Watercooler banter and hallway high-fives are being replaced with Slack standups and applauding hands emojis.
Remote working has skyrocketed in recent years due to the pandemic and it has now become the norm among many organizations. But even though it is now widespread, companies had some challenges to overcome when transitioning from an in-person to remote workplace, especially if it was a new concept. It was a bumpy road at first, but companies eventually became more comfortable as it made them more flexible and helped them reimagine how the future of work might look.
But the challenges aren't over. As a sales team lead, it can feel daunting to think about managing your entire team and sales process remotely while maintaining a high level of productivity and momentum.
Less contact with team members and reps is just one reason you might feel frustrated working remotely. Couple that with the inability to control your sales team's workflow and activities, and it compounds the challenges.
Remote working comes with its barriers, but we're here to tell you that it's highly doable! With a few tweaks and adjustments, your remote sales team can become a well-oiled machine that is just as productive and cohesive as an in-house team — if not more. After all, 68% of enterprises believe employee productivity has improved since shifting to a remote working environment.
What does a remote sales team look like? Are there any advantages?
Is your entire team remote? If so, then you manage a remote sales team.
If half of your sales people work in-office and the other half work part- or full-time remotely, this is a hybrid team. A fully remote team typically employs reps from different states and there is no physical office. The team is only connected digitally.
Why go remote? Sure, there are challenges, but there are a few reasons why sales managers transition to remote work.
Here are some advantages of remote selling:
- Save money: It's an obvious benefit but worth a mention. You'll still incur costs working remotely but you'll also save money on flights, meals, and renting an office space with equipment.
- Expand your audience: Remote sales give you access to a broader pool of prospects because you aren't limited to your geographical location.
- Boost productivity and efficiency: Working from home reduces commute time attending client meetings away from your desk. Re-invest this time into boosting sales. Plus, remote workers feel more productive outside of a traditional office environment.
- Boost morale: Today's employees love working in a flexible environment. In fact, 64% of employees at top-tier companies said they would rather work from home permanently than get a $30,000-a-year raise.
How to manage a remote sales team: 4 tips to tackling the challenges
Managing remote sales teams also comes with its challenges. But hopefully, they don't deter you from your remote working goals! Since the pandemic, this setup has become commonplace, and according to Salesforce, just under half (46%) of sales reps state that they want to sell virtually moving forward.
Let's discuss the top challenges sales leaders and managers face when transitioning to remote working and how to tackle each one.
1. Tighten up workflows and processes
If you have workflow challenges with your team, they likely won't go away when working remotely — and they might even become more problematic if not addressed.
Keeping remote workflows smooth and efficient means becoming more reliant on digital apps and online automation. They will increase efficiency, boost productivity, and streamline processes so your team can maintain flow and eliminate bottlenecks.
Below are a few items to consider when tightening up your workflows:
- Maintain 360-degree visibility into your sales team activity: Use a CRM that employs a full sales dashboard so every team member has visibility into the team's activities and performance.
- Use digital communication and organization tools:
1. CRM (Ex: Salesforce, Hubspot): Your customer relationship management platform.
2. Slack: Internal team communication
3. Asana, Trello: Work and project management
4. Zoom, Google Meet: Video conferencing (internal and external)
5. Superhuman (hey, that's us!) Keep email management fast and efficient for teams.
- Eliminate silos and consolidate your tools: Ensure all team members use the same sales tools to promote visibility and cohesion. Ideally, your tools should communicate with each other. For example, if you use Slack, ensure it integrates with your CRM (of choice) to provide a seamless experience for team members. The goal is to prevent silos, or people working individually without 100% visibility.
2. Establish clear and effective communication channels
Effective communication is a challenge when managing remote teams. Your colleague can no longer stop by your office to get your opinion or grab a quick word with you over coffee. It's easy for your team members to miss out on important details due to reduced accessibility.
How can you overcome this challenge and keep communication open and accessible? Here are some ways to enhance communication for remote teams:
Increase communication cadence and directness
Covering your bases and ensuring team members fully understand your intentions is necessary when working with remote team members because, as hard as we try, digital communication does lack some personal connection. This means not making any assumptions or leaving anything up to chance and keeping the lines of communication open to understand each interaction fully.
When a team member contacts you and you can't reply right away, send them a quick note that you'll get to them when you're available. Then send yourself a reminder with an app like Superhuman to remind you to action the email when you're ready. Stay in constant contact with the recipient until you're fully aware of the situation.
Keep communication open and ongoing
Establish daily or weekly standups or check-ins to keep team members accountable and in the loop on the team's activities. A daily standup thread in a tool like Slack allows you to set clear expectations and let team members provide updates on any new information or challenges they face.
How do you mimic the energy of a bustling sales floor when your workers are scattered across the globe?
Whether weekly or bi-monthly, use video conferencing for sales meetings to discuss ongoing company operations and tackle team challenges and improvements. Also, consider holding open forum meetings to allow team members the ability to speak their minds and feel heard, something that is often lost with remote teams.
Here are some other ways to keep communication open:
- Team meetings and one-on-ones (video calls)
- Deal reviews
- Virtual coffee breaks
- Ongoing sales training
- Team-building activities
- Continual feedback check-ins to assess how your team member feels about their job role and how/if you can improve anything.
- Celebrate the wins: What has worked recently? Did a team member have a stellar sales call and want to share what succeeded? Did they meet their monthly quota?
- Buyer reactions: What are the prospect's objections? What is working and what isn't in a team member's communication with prospects?
Ensure all of your team members know how to get a hold of each other and can easily access updated information. Create a repository that includes each team member's contact information, working hours, location, and timezone.
3. Keep reps accountable without micro-management
Some remote sales managers tighten their grip on their employees when working remotely because they feel they can't trust them to do the job without day-to-day oversight. This is an easy trap to fall into, but it could lead to low morale and distrust within the organization.
How do you keep your sales reps accountable without micromanaging your team? Here are some tips for building trust and accountability within your team:
- Encourage team members to post weekly updates on their leads and targets to keep themselves accountable to the team.
- Get reps involved. Allow your team the autonomy to bring their creative ideas to fruition and prove them. They will feel more accountable to the team and inspired to do a good job.
- Open up communication in your chat channels for reps to be open about their challenges. Your team should feel it is safe to bring their issues to the team and get advice and help. When you create a safe space for remote employees, they will feel accountable to the entire team to do their best work. Trust and transparency are essential.
- Allow reps to track their goals and initiatives and take accountability for reaching KPIs.
- Be transparent with data. Give reps the ability to see all of your company data and how you're meeting KPIs. Encourage your team members to review each other's performance to dispel competition among team members and foster an environment where reps can feel comfortable enough to come forward with their struggles.
4. Celebrate goals, milestones, and wins
You never want your team members to feel invisible. But this often happens in remote environments because you're not interacting with them face-to-face.
Without the ability to high-five in the halls or congratulate a team member in the cafeteria, remote sales teams have to get creative with goal-setting and achievements and be deliberate about communicating wins to the team.
One way to combat team loneliness is to celebrate their wins.
Heard of a winning sales call? Saw a team member perform well and close deals? Communicate your appreciation to your employees for a job well done. Offer meal vouchers, gift cards, or upload a celebratory GIF in your Slack channel to announce your gratitude.
Even a "job well done" to the whole team on occasion will boost employee morale and make your team feel appreciated, seen, and heard in a more invisible remote environment.
You can also use gamification to encourage friendly competition and involve all team members in morale-boosting sales activities. Consider rewarding employees for being the first to close some deals or coming up with a winning name for your new project.
Boost sales team productivity and streamline workflows with Superhuman
Maintaining productivity in a remote working environment is key to being successful. But managing email can become a bottleneck without the right tools and automation.
Superhuman helps sales teams manage their email blazingly fast, boost productivity, and build relationships with potential clients. AI and social insights, meeting scheduling, Split Inbox, Snippets, and email scheduling are just a few of the productivity-boosting features Superhuman offers.
Sign up for Superhuman today and learn how to improve your remote sales team's working environment with increased productivity, streamlined processes, and the fastest email experience in the world.