Amidst the ongoing pandemic, some business leaders still struggle with managing a remote sales team. Here’s how to keep your remote teams engaged.
One of the most significant cultural changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is the virtual workspace, which will likely last far beyond the disruption caused by the virus. For many, managing a remote sales team was an abrupt and unexpected change, and it requires an adjusted approach.
Even if you’ve developed a sound system for managing a remote sales team, there’s also the question of motivation and overall engagement. With no more morning commutes, in-person team meetings and customer interactions, or office environments to keep people focused, employees may find themselves distracted working from home. And the longer the virus persists, the harder it’s becoming for many employees to stay inspired and energetic.
But people are nothing if not adaptable. A year ago, those who hadn’t given remote work a second thought have since found ways to make the virtual environment successful—and much of that success starts with management.
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7 Steps to managing a remote sales team towards success
It’s important to note first, that managing a remote sales team and finding ways to motivate them are not the same thing. Management may encompass motivation, but the former has more to do with delegation, giving guidance and directives, and helping employees cultivate and nurture their career paths. Motivating is about building and maintaining each employee’s drive, enthusiasm, and eagerness to do their jobs.
1. Communication is key
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of managing a remote sales team is ensuring that you communicate regularly with them. Apart from standing team meetings, remote workers tend to be more successful when their managers meet with them individually once a week for regular check-ins. This not only gives you insight into project statuses and individual performance, but it’s also an opportunity to build relationships and better understand each employee’s way of working and whether there might be anything in their personal lives that impacts their professional day-to-day.
2. Enhance relationships
Speaking of relationships, building trust with your employees is just as important as building trust with clients, especially when managing a remote sales team. When you have your check-ins, leave some room to talk on a personal level as well as professional. Doing so will strengthen the bonds you have with your teams, which is helpful for several reasons, but specifically, regarding remote work, it helps to establish the accountability that each person needs to be successful as long as this work-from-home environment continues.
3. Promote healthy competition
Most salespeople are at least somewhat competitive by nature. They tend to feel more motivated when there are constant short-term goals to reach. Use this to your advantage to motivate team members working remotely. Turn run-of-the-mill tasks into weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly contests that will encourage employees to push themselves harder. Such contests don’t need to have a financial incentive. For many salespeople, seeing their name publicly displayed as #1 for something can be enough to incentivize them. Challenging employees has always been important, but perhaps never more so than now when people are exhausted from the monotony that the pandemic has created in everyday life.
4. Set expectations
Managing a remote sales team effectively means setting clear expectations regularly. Many people, especially if they’re not used to working from home, can become overwhelmed sitting at home thinking of all there is to do or wondering if they should be doing more. Spell out what you expect from your employees and track against those expectations, adjusting as needed along the way. If your employees don’t fully understand what you want from them, they’ll likely fall short of what you’re looking for. If you set expectations in a sales meeting, follow up with an email, so everyone has the same thing in writing to refer back to.
5. Provide resources
A common frustration for remote teams is feeling like they don’t have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. Using current technology, like Call Logic, and ensuring that each employee has an adequate work-from-home setup will ensure that there’s nothing material standing in the way of your employees and success. We also recommend asking employees what they need rather than assuming. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to accommodate every request, but at least you’ll know what their pain points are, and you’ll be able to adjust accordingly.
6. Create a collaborative environment
Collaboration is an excellent tool for both motivating and managing a remote sales team. Be intentional about boosting collaboration across your direct reports. Even an hour or two a week can be helpful. Create group exercises and try to make everyone’s day-to-day as interactive as possible. This will not only help your teams become more creative themselves, but it will also help them learn from each other, not to mention the mental health benefits of collaboration during a time when people have significantly less human interaction regularly.
7. Constant coaching
Coaching falls under the umbrella of communication, but it’s worth singling out here because coaching is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside if you’re not accustomed to managing a remote sales team. Regular guidance, feedback, and encouragement will go a long way in making sure your employees continue to succeed in the virtual world we all find ourselves living in.
Manage, motivate, and win
While managing and motivating don’t operate in silos apart from each other, it’s an important distinction if you’re struggling with the remote environment. You may have employees who don’t need much management at all, but might need a little push from time to time to keep them engaged. Or, you may have employees who are always eager and energized, but who don’t thrive as much with remote work for any number of reasons. Either way, there are ways that you as a manager can recalibrate your teams and help them succeed even while everyone is still working in the safety of their homes.
Whisper coaching is one of the many outstanding features of Call Logic, allowing you to provide guidance and feedback in real-time without interrupting the sales process. Check out a free demo to find out more!