10 steps to build and manage a remote sales team

Managing a remote sales team from home

The way we work is changing, and it's changing fast. Is your sales team ready for remote work?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to remote work and helped many organizations realize it can work for them, the trend towards a more flexible way of working has been prominent for several years.

Remote work has increased by 159% since 2005, and today around 16% of global companies hire nothing but full-time remote workers.

There are numerous benefits of remote work, both for employers and employees, including higher productivity, improved performance, better employee retention and increased profitability - not to mention access to top talent from all over the world without geographic restrictions.

With studies indicating that working from home half the week can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 54 million tons every year, it's also the sustainable choice. And just imagine the time your team can save, opting for video instead of in-person sales meetings...

It's safe to say that the future of work is remote, as much for sales teams as any other part of an organization.

All of the technology to help a sales team transition to remote work is out there, but making the jump from office life isn't without its challenges.

Let's take a look at how you can help your sales team transition smoothly to remote work and keep improving your results at the same time.

 

10 best practices for managing a remote sales team

Creating a smooth transition for your sales team to remote work doesn't just happen. It requires a conscious effort as well as a strong combination of:

  • Cloud-based apps and workspaces. A tech stack that powers your sales operations from anywhere is a crucial component for any remote team. No part of your sales team should be dependent on being in any one location.

  • Remote-first processes. The remote sales teams that thrive are the ones with processes that are designed for remote work, not adapted to fit it in a hurry. Take a good look at your sales operations strategy and optimize the details for remote working.

  • A remote-friendly company culture. For your sales team to succeed, remote work needs to be a key part of your company DNA. This means valuing flexibility and trusting your team to get their work done anywhere. Without it, any team will run into challenges.

To help you with the ins-and-outs of building and managing your remote sales team, read on for our in-depth look at these ten best practices:

  1. Support your team in creating home offices
  2. Set clear expectations
  3. Don't micromanage
  4. More communication, better communication
  5. Make time for social interactions
  6. Go cloud-based
  7. Sync your apps and contacts
  8. Adopt video meetings
  9. Agree on a sales process and stick to it
  10. Measure and follow up on goals and metrics

 

1. Support your team in creating home offices

Without a central HQ to work from, your organization needs to make sure that every remote employee has a functional and pleasant work environment at home. Check that everyone is set up with high-speed internet connections, powerful computers with fast processors and any other tools necessary for an efficient workday.

Encourage your team to create comfortable and ergonomically correct workplaces, and avoid blurring the lines between work and private life. Boundaries are essential to get right at the start: communicating about work outside of office hours isn't fun for anyone.

 

2. Set clear expectations

Clarity is crucial when working remotely. If you need your team to be available during a certain timeframe, be clear on what hours your team is expected to be working and what rules apply when working from home.

If your company has been operating with fixed hours in the office, re-evaluate this to make sure that it's really necessary: a lot of organizations are realizing that they don't really need a fixed working schedule for everyone and can instead invest in flexible working.

Start by answering these questions:

  • When does the working day begin and end?
  • How flexible can your team's schedules be?
  • How quickly are you expected to respond to messages?

Remember: the more clarity, the less friction and frustration. Document and share expectations so it's clear for everyone from the get-go.

 

3. Don't micromanage

Many of the benefits of remote work for employers and employees relate to the increase in freedom and flexibility.

52% of employees who work for companies that do not offer flexible working and remote work say they wish that their employer would allow them to work from home to enjoy more freedom and less stress.

Don't lose sight of this! If you micromanage, you ruin the freedom and flexibility that makes remote work a perk for employees.

 

4. More communication, better communication

Communication from afar makes the risk of misunderstandings much greater, especially when you're communicating in writing.

Not surprisingly, communication and collaboration are considered some of the biggest challenges by remote workers. When you can't rely on cues from voice, facial expression and body language, it becomes difficult to read subtleties. Clarity is vital.

Make it a habit to send follow up emails after meetings to sum up what was decided and to generally repeat things more than you think is necessary. Too little communication creates stress, while communicating more frequently helps to develop a feeling of safety.

Remember to book regular team meetings and one-on-ones with your team members and use video whenever possible so you get to see each other's faces.

 

5. Make time for social interactions

When your sales team works from home, teambuilding will be different from what you're used to.

When you're all in an office setting together, it's natural to have a chat by the water cooler or while making a coffee. Those informal meetings are essential for bonding and strengthening your team.

Since that doesn't happen spontaneously when your team is working from home, you need to make space for those social interactions in other ways.

According to a study by Buffer, loneliness is one of the biggest struggles remote workers face. Virtual coffee breaks or after work get-togethers can work wonders for team spirit and morale.

 

6. Go cloud-based

Cloud-based platforms for collaboration and communication, such as Slack or MS Teams, allow your team members to work and stay connected, wherever they are and whatever device they're on.

Meanwhile, a cloud-based CRM that is synced with your other apps will help your sales team work efficiently from home with all the data they need.

By making sure all your marketing and sales material is stored in the cloud, you know it's accessible to your team at all times.

 

7. Sync your apps and contacts

Integrating your apps is a key part of making remote work a success. This doesn't just apply to your sales apps: for the best results, also sync your marketing and service apps for a 360-degree view of the customer journey.

Data integration not only keeps all team members on the same page, but also enables your team to deliver the best customer experience with consistent interactions.

 

8. Adopt video meetings

Video meetings are as close to face-to-face interactions as you can get without being in the same room. They make it easier to build rapport with prospects and enable you to show slides or enablement materials as part of the sales call.

Useful tools for setting up virtual sales meetings include Zoom, Google Meet and GoToMeeting. Consider providing your team members with branded backdrops to create a professional impression in video meetings.

If your team is using Zoom, reps can also use virtual backgrounds to create a professional environment. High-quality webcams and noise-canceling headphones are also a good investment.

Tip: Regularly have your team members record their meetings, and look at them together. Discussing actual sales calls, whether successful or not, is an excellent way for the whole team to learn and improve their sales technique.

 

9. Agree on a sales process and stick to it

For any sales team, it's worth creating a standard process that everyone adheres to in order to keep quality high and prevent customers from having a disconnected experience. It's even more valuable when your sales reps are remote and can't observe how their colleagues get results.

If needed, this enables sales agents to quickly transfer calls and meetings to a colleague who will immediately know where to pick up and provide a seamless transition.

To facilitate this, keep all communication organized in a single tool, such as your CRM. This will help you stay on top of follow-ups, next steps and overall team performance.

 

10. Measure and follow up on goals and metrics

"What gets measured, gets managed." This quote is from Peter Drucker's book "The Practice of Management" from 1954, and it remains equally true today. For your team to improve, they need to know how they're doing.

Keep it simple when you decide what to measure. Deal sizes, sales cycle times and close rates are usually the most important goals for a sales team, and they're easy to track with most CRMs.

As a remote sales team leader, it's also important to create regular reports, share them with your team and discuss how to reach your goals together.

Don't go too heavy on the number of reports, but rather opt for a few engaging and clear representations that convey the bigger picture.

Tools like Visme make it easy to create infographics for your sales presentations, and it's also easier than ever to automate reporting workflows.

 

Now’s the time to optimize your transition to remote work

Happier employees, a more sustainable work-life balance and lower costs to run a business. There are numerous benefits to running a remote operation, and sales teams have a lot to gain from embracing remote work.

To empower your remote sales team to access up-to-date and accurate data everywhere, use PieSync to effortlessly connect all of your apps and benefit from high-quality data in your sales, marketing and support platforms.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.