There’s no doubt that the internet has significantly changed how we do communicate. Moving from the age of landlines to the mobile devices of today, we have more tools than ever to help us stay connected across the globe.
So, it’s no wonder that businesses are using the power of the internet to keep their remote sales force connected, even across towns, states, countries, and continents. Cutting down on the often high costs of having a physical office, businesses are maximizing profitability and productivity by managing a remote sales force.
In this guide, we’re sharing some tips for B2B businesses looking to successfully manage a remote sales force, helping reps collaborate effectively.
The Rise of Remote Sales Forces
In a recent study by Buffer, a whopping 99% of respondents said that they would like to work remotely. So, while some might label remote work as a “trend”, data indicates that remote work is here to stay. In fact, the amount of people who work remotely has grown by 400% since 2010.
Remote work offers a range of benefits for both workers. Of the benefits listed by respondents, the top ones were:
- Having a flexible schedule (40%)
- The ability to work from any location (30%)
- Time with family (14%)
- Working from home (13%)
Going remote presents benefits for business owners as well. For companies, the benefits of building a remote sales force can include lower costs, increased productivity, better team collaboration, higher team satisfaction, and lower turnover.
Sp, whether you’re a new company or have been in business for quite some time, it’s worth considering having a remote workforce as a smart business strategy.
10 Tips for How to Manage a Remote Sales Force
Once you’ve made the decision to run a remote sales force, you’ll need to get educated on how to do so effectively while maximizing productivity. Going remote will be a transition for you and your sales reps, so having a plan of action can help alleviate stress and prevent costly mistakes.
Here are our tips for how to manage a remote sales force from anywhere in the world.
1. Build the Right Remote Sales Force
If you have an existing sales team, you’ll need to decide how to propose remote work and what that structure might look like. Many of your reps may be excited about working remotely, but some might not be. Ultimately, you’ll need to build a remote sales force that is going to thrive.
First, ask your reps how they feel about remote work. For the ones that are interested in working remotely, ask them what their ideal schedule might look like. You might find that your reps would like to be 100% remote or only working remotely a certain percentage of the time. With this information, you can establish a schedule that works for the majority.
If you’re building a sales team from scratch, ask potential hires if they are interested in remote work, whether they have worked remotely before, and, again, what their ideal schedule might look like. Also, get a sense of their communication skills – particularly online – to envision how they might handle communicating and collaborating with a team.
The best remote sales reps will have strong communication skills, great organizational skills, self-discipline, and the ability to use common remote communication tools. They must be able to self-motivate to stay on deadline and hit milestones, even in the absence of in-person accountability.
2. Create Sales Team SOPs
To help prepare your sales team for working remotely, you can create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that detail how to use company sales tools, collaborate with other sales reps, stay on top of deadlines, etc.
For example, many remote teams use the communication tool Slack to collaborate on projects, share documents, and more. You can create an SOP that details how to sign up with Slack, use the tool effectively, share project details, or accomplish any other task you might assign to a sales rep.
With SOPs, you have step by step procedures for every person on your team. That way, everyone is on the same page and you can minimize confusion.
Need help training your sales team? Check out these 6 Online Sales Training Courses.
3. Manage Expectations
Just like with in-person work, you’ll want to create realistic expectations so your team knows what’s expected of them. However, these expectations might differ from those you’ve created for in-office employees.
For example, you might expect remote workers to clock their time as billable or non-billable hours using a time tracking tool. Or, you might expect them to check in on a regular basis to confirm the status of projects you aren’t able to oversee in person.
Note that managing expectations applies to you, the manager, as well. Your team might expect a certain level of communication, explanation of project details, or even flexibility when it comes to their work hours.
The goal here is to set yourself and your team up for success by explaining both the tasks and the reasons behind them, as well as how you plan to measure success. This includes defining the scope of each project, setting clear deadlines, and specifying which deliverables you expect to see.
4. Set Realistic Yet Ambitious Sales Goals
Part of managing expectations is clearly defining the milestones (or sales goals) you expect your remote team to hit. If you’re clear from the get-go, it will make it easier for your reps to manage their work and easier for you to measure success.
You should be realistics with your sales goals, especially at the start of transitioning to remote work. Wait a few weeks or even a few months for your team to get into a flow before setting super ambitious goals.
Be clear in how you plan to measure success and by what metrics. Should reps be closing a certain number of deals per month? Conducting a minimum number of calls? Make sure everyone on your sales team knows what these numbers are and how they will be measured.
5. Utilize Project Management Tools
Project management tools are your friend. They will help your remote sales force stay organized, on task, and on deadline.
One popular project management tool is Asana, which allows you to assign tasks to team members, set deadlines, and track progress. It has a super simple interface, making it easy to use to even the least tech-savvy of sales reps.
It’s also recommended that you have a centralized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It’s here that your sales reps will be able to enter lead contact information, update the status of prospects in your sales funnel, access important customer data, share proposals and files, and collaborate with other sales reps.
6. Schedule Regular Check Ins
Whenever possible, try to schedule one-on-one meetings with your sales reps to check in on their progress and well as support them in their remote work. You should also schedule regular check ins with your entire sales team, at least on a monthly basis, to ensure everyone is feeling supported and is hitting their goals.
Services like Zoom and Google Hangouts make scheduling these calls relatively easy. You can schedule a slot that works for everyone’s schedule and conduct a video call with ease. The purpose is to set an agenda and provide the feedback and resources your sales team needs.
7. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Obviously, your success in managing a remote team will be heavily reliant on you having the right technology at your disposal. Since all work and collaboration will be conducted online, you’ll need at least a handful of tools in order to make remote work a breeze for you and your reps.
We’ve already referenced having a project management tool like Asana, but there are countless other tools you can use to increase productivity and collaboration. These include:
- Salesforce CRM – Organize lead and customer details, update lead status, send proposals, and more.
- Slack – Team collaboration tool where reps can chat in real-time and share documents with other team members.
- Zapier – Automate manual sales tasks, send reminders, and simplify a wide range of business tasks with point-and-click simplicity.
- Sales prospecting tools – To help your marketing team generate B2B leads and send them to your remote sales reps.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amazing tools you can use to run your remote sales force efficiently. That’s why we’ve published our list of 20 Tools Every Sales Rep Should Be Using.
8. Trust Your Team
Many business owners have this fear that going remote will lead to lower productivity or essentially reps “slacking off” since they don’t have in-person accountability. But, in reality, the data fails to support this fear and instead shows greater productivity and collaboration.
What that means is that there is some degree of trust involved in allowing your team to work remotely. It is a learning process for them as much as it is for you. As long as you equip them with the right tools and offer the support they need, you should trust that they will hit their sales goals.
If any rep is failing to hit their goals, address this as you would any other in-office rep. Identify which areas require improvement, whether they need added support or tools, or if another layer of accountability is required. Ultimately, some of your reps will be cut out for remote work and others may not be. Address this on a case by case basis.
9. Focus on Output, Not Activity
One of the major perks of remote work is that sales reps can manage their own time without the watching eye of an in-office manager. The result is then less time spent on “busy work” and a greater focus on work that actually drives results.
We encourage you to focus on output rather than activity, or else you risk “babysitting” your team and driving them to do busy work. Ultimately, you want reps that generate results, not just run out the clock.
Depending on your business structure, you might need to track billable hours, but you should prioritize output over time spent on tasks. Again, set measurable goals, be clear about how output will be measured, and send the message that you’re simply looking for reps to deliver on their responsibilities.
10. Take Time to Celebrate Wins
Working remotely can feel isolating and even intimidating at first. Your team will need motivation in order to stay focused and stay connected.
Celebrate wins when you can, ideally with your entire team and via face-to-face communication. You might offer incentives or bonuses to reps who hit new milestones. Show your team that you appreciate the work that they do, even if you’re not able to see their faces during the day.
It’s up to you to make your team feel supported. Take the time to have some fun, celebrate wins, and encourage team camaraderie. Your entire business will benefit because of it.
Grow Your Business from Anywhere, Online with a Remote Sales Force
Building a remote sales force can be a smart move for businesses looking to maximize profitability and productivity. While managing a remote team isn’t always easy, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
In this post, you learned 10 tips for how to manage your remote team plus were recommended some amazing tools to increase collaboration. In fact, Visitor Queue can help you grow your business from anywhere with a 100% remote lead generation strategy. Ready to generate more B2B leads online? Get started with your free trial of Visitor Queue.