We’ve talked before about how important motivation is for anyone to be successful at whatever they choose to do in life. That undoubtedly includes the sales industry – no matter what product you’re peddling, you have to have the right motivation (and a lot of it!) to keep going when things get tough, to choose to improve rather than be stagnant, and to help your team or company be successful. When working in a traditional office setting – think multiple offices together or cubicles – it’s much easier, as a manager, to assess the climate of your team. You can easily sense (or see) when the level of morale is low, and you can make changes accordingly or give your team a pep talk. If conflict occurs, you can handle it right away with a closed door meeting in your office. It’s easier to provide your team with the motivation they need.
However, some see the traditional office setting as a barrier, something that keeps them from being as productive as they want to be, or they see it as an unnecessary distraction. These individuals are drawn to a different kind of sales team – a remote one. They want to be able to do their job without the possibility of micromanagement, they can prevent some personal conflict with coworkers who work differently than they prefer, and they can literally work anywhere – their home, a co-working space…pretty much any place with a wifi connection. But working remotely has its disadvantages as well. Communication is hard, and misunderstandings are more common when you’re communicating solely via email or a virtual work space platform. It’s easier to feel disconnected or isolated. For a manager, managing a remote sales team is a more complicated animal. You have to be on top of your staff without being around them very often, you have to oversee their progress from afar, and injecting helpful motivation is difficult. And yet, there are companies out there delivering amazing results with remote sales teams. How do they do it?
1. Trust Has to Be Built
Trust is one of the most important components to any job, but trust is not something that can happen overnight – it needs to be built over time and with experience. When working with a remote sales team, it’s naturally going to take longer to build trust with your people when you’re not spending eight hours a day together. You need to take active steps to promote quality teamwork, including giving recognition, taking regular feedback or clarifying roles in your sales process, etc. You also have to combat the most common barrier to building trust – lack of communication. How? By over-communicating with your team – send regular updates, be available when your team needs you, and respond quickly to messages sent. Encourage your team to actually talk to you and each other – set up a Skype call or plan an informal time to hang out with your people. Your team will look to you to see how you choose to communicate, and they will follow suit, whether good or bad.
2. Foster Team Engagement
Engaged employees are much more productive than unengaged ones, but with a remote sales team, where personal interaction and human contact happen less often, it’s easy for a salesperson to disengage. You need to remove some of the more pressing frustrations that your team may be experiencing, and foster a team atmosphere whenever possible. If individual team members feel supported on their own, they will find it easier to help others feel that way, thus creating or improving team connection. Talk about stuff other than work – be committed to focusing some time on each team member and find common interests. The more informal interactions you have, the better your employees will engage during work conversations or team meetings. Plan times for regular meetings to promote brainstorming about different strategies or tactics, but also plan for monthly, quarterly or yearly meet-ups so your team can get to know each other on a more personal level.
3. Implement Solid Processes
While connecting with your team personally helps to engage your team, good processes provide the necessary structure to get things done, especially if your team is spread out or in different time zones. Your team may balk at processes, but if you define them as tasks, it’s more like a checklist – checking things off of a list, as simple as it may seem, keeps people motivated and challenged. If you’re using a project management tool, you can set up task templates for specific things, like sending a cold email, making a cold call, creating a proposal, presenting a demo and so on. Having these templates will help your team be more successful, but it also helps you to know that the work is getting done well. It’s also a good idea to foster accountability with an established routine – getting together regularly to share what each team member has accomplished during the week, and talking about what leads they’re going to follow up on or what targets they’re shooting for the next week. This keeps everyone on the same page and accountable to each other.
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4. Set Clear Expectations
When a standard is set, it can help foster a team spirit – a common goal to be achieved. With your remote sales team, this is of the utmost importance, since team building doesn’t happen very often. Along with the processes you put in place, give your team certain benchmarks to be reached – sales objectives and targets. But also make sure each of your team members fully understands their role on your team. If you can, focus on the strengths of each person, and provide feedback and encouragement for their daily duties. While having the freedom to work as they need or want to, your remote sales team can’t wander around out there without specific goals. Structure is still needed, just in a different way than it would be in a traditional office setting.
5. Give the Best, Get the Best
One way you can assist your team is by giving them the best – the best training, the best tools, the best goals and the best recognition for each person on your team. No matter how much time each of your team has been in the sales industry, everyone can use some refresher training. With the proper goals in place, your staff can fully embrace their remote position, trust each other, hold each other accountable and in return, help you meet your goals as their manager. One tool you can give your team is a cloud-based predictive dialer phone system. They can use it to make all of their calls, from anywhere they find themselves working. They can customize their caller ID, emails, scripts and voicemails, and you can keep track of their progress via different dashboards, and you can even provide some whisper coaching for new employees who may need some help making calls.
Managing a remote sales team? Give your sales team the best tools, let us show you why Call Logic is your best choice. We can give you a free demo and provide you with an affordable software to help your team be the best they can be. Give us a call today!