Managing remote sales teams can be easy or it can be a headache. Here’s what you can do to make it easy.
Even if it feels like many of us have worked remotely forever, the fact is that we’ve only been managing remote sales teams for a relatively short time. Of course, that’s not to say remote teams haven’t been around for years. In fact, you might argue that the door-to-door sales strategy of the past was remote work.
Even then, however, that was different. Salespeople would have specific regions or routes, but would still be in the office now and then. Today, sales teams might be spread across countries. They might rarely if ever, be in the same location. Due to time zones, it’s possible that some sales teams may only interact with each other for minimal amounts of time.
So, because of the relative newness and the potentially spread-out nature, managing remote sales teams is a bit of a mystery for many managers. But it doesn’t have to be such a mystery. In fact, there are numerous benefits. And there are also some best practices, as well as some things to avoid.
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Managing remote sales teams: 7 Do’s and don’ts for success
1. Do: Get organized. Because you don’t have those in-office opportunities to spontaneously catch up or ask questions, it’s vital to be highly organized. Whether you use software to manage your workflow or a spreadsheet of some kind, an organized system helps everyone stay together and understand what’s happening.
2. Don’t: Assume everyone is as organized as you. Would it be nice if that were the case? Of course. But if you’re managing remote sales teams, you may need to put in a little extra work to ensure that everyone stays on top of updates.
3. Do: Stay in touch with your team. Whether it’s a weekly check-in, a full team meeting once per month, or something in between, it’s vital to touch base with everyone on your team on a regular basis.
4. Don’t: Micromanage. It’s one thing to stay in touch. It’s another thing altogether to get involved in the minute details of how your salespeople are doing their jobs. Be warned, however, that this is particularly difficult when you’re managing remote sales teams. That distance can create uncertainty, and you may find yourself stepping in too often to find out what your team is working on. Give them a chance to work without interference. You might find that they do better than you could have expected.
5. Do: Accommodate different schedules. Yes, it might not be ideal to have a Zoom meeting at 9 p.m. on a Thursday night. But imagine that one person on your team who always finds themselves scheduled for meetings right in the middle of dinner. Obviously, this is more of a problem if you’re working in very different time zones, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
6. Don’t: Deter people from socializing. One thing that can easily get lost in remote work is the chance to socialize with our colleagues. At the same time, managers may assume that people socializing aren’t working. However, with in-person work, there are numerous chances to build those inter-office relationships. We chat for a few minutes in the elevator. We catch up in the break room. We grab a coffee together. In remote work, these relationship-building moments happen online. And though it may look like your team is distracted or not working, these are vitally important moments.
7. Do: Give your team the tools they need to succeed. What those tools are may depend on the specifics of your sales team, but a few suggestions might be communication tools like Slack. If your sales team uses the phone for sales calls, power dialer software like Call Logic can help them get organized and work efficiently.
If you step back and look at things from a distance, managing remote sales teams isn’t a completely new idea. In many ways, it’s only marginally different than managing an in-person team. It does require more trust and clear communication, but those are characteristic of some of the best management styles in any space.
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