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Sales | Dec 1
Jessica Malnik on October 21, 2020 (last modified on November 2, 2020) • 27 minute read
Is your sales team spending 50% or more of each day on internal team Zoom calls instead of actually selling to prospects?
Or, are deals being dropped because no one knows who is supposed to follow up?
And, are people on the team lacking motivation and feeling burnt out?
These are just a handful of issues that can happen when you try to manage a remote sales team like an in-person team.
With COVID-19, many sales teams were thrown into the remote workforce for the first time. In the beginning, they adapted their in-person management strategies as best they could and largely ran on adrenaline and the novelty factor.
However, you can’t run a successful remote sales team on adrenaline alone.
In this post, we’re going to share effective strategies you can use to manage a remote sales team, including:
Remote selling is the practice of identifying opportunities and closing sales without having to meet up in person. Most remote sales professionals are closing deals by phone, email, Zoom, and other virtual conferencing software.
Having a remote sales team can be a major competitive advantage. Here are some of the top benefits.
This is no one-size-fits-approach to motivating your remote sales team. What works for one team might not work for you.
However, you greatly increase your chances of keeping your team motivated and hitting their quotas each month if you do the following:
Editor’s Note: Looking for more tips? Check out our guide to managing remote teams.
Many remote work tools – like Slack, Zoom, and Google Sheets – that you are using to collaborate and communicate across your company can also work well for remote sales teams.
However, you may want to invest in a handful of sales-specific remote tools that support your existing systems and processes, such as a CRM, Wiki, project management software, and lead routing and generation tools.
For example, some popular tools include HubSpot, Zoho, Notion, Confluence, Zapier, and Salesforce.
Editor’s Note: In addition to investing in sales-specific tools, it can be helpful to build out sales dashboards to monitor your sales pipeline, deal status, and individual reps’ performance. If you use HubSpot, here is a sales manager’s dashboard template you can use.
While there are certain best practices that all remote sales teams should follow around goal-setting, organization, and communication, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing a sales team remotely. So, we asked nearly 50 sales managers to share their top tips.
“Transparency really is the key to success with your sales team,” says Loren Howard of Hard Money Lenders Arizona. “You have to lead your team by being open and honest. It helps make sure nothing falls through the cracks.”
Spencer Smith of IRC Sales Solutions says, “The best advice I can give for managing a remote sales team is building transparency into your sales team. This means using technology that allows you to monitor every rep’s effort equally while strictly enforcing requirements that sales reps use this tech in a way that logs 100% of their efforts. This isn’t about being the big brother and micromanaging reps. This is about being able to evaluate reps’ goals and quotas.
If you don’t have insights into how many phone calls your reps are making (because they use their cell phones) or how many times they’re reaching out to customers (because they don’t log everything into the CRM), then how can you determine the reason one rep met his goals while another rep didn’t?
Ashwin Sokke of WOW Skin Science adds, “I think staying connected and putting extra emphasis on communication is vital in the current climate of working remotely.
As a leader, I’ve been more present and available to my team members. I do daily check-ins with employees to keep them on track and listen to any concerns or feedback they might have to offer. It is extremely important to me to keep my team happy, comfortable, and optimistic. A happier employee is a more productive and engaged employee.
In my company, I focus on inclusivity and transparency. It is vital to set up a stream of communication in which employees feel comfortable to express their thoughts as well as making sure those thoughts are fully heard.”
“You must continue to foster the competitive and team participation nature that most salespeople crave,” says Jackie Pfriender of Impulse Creative. “That can be done in weekly recognition meetings where top sales efforts are celebrated, as well as make that a time for sharing best practices!
Allowing reps to share best practices or tips on how they are closing deals and even where they are struggling is going to ensure they share ownership of this meeting, while remote, and increase participation- rather than having it run by leadership.”
“Recognize great work,” says Tiffany Lewis of More Meaningful Marketing. “Even when you do not see your team in-person, incentivizing them makes them feel important and included, which can be a frequent disconnect with remote teams.”
Michael Alexis of TeamBuilding adds, “At times, sales can feel like a thankless task. Commission helps, and I recommend supplementing these monetary rewards with moments of recognition.
For example, we use a Slack channel called #you-are-awesome to praise team members for day-to-day contributions. The shout-out might be as simple as recognizing a first sale, a particularly large deal, or great feedback from a client. Other team members then pile on with emojis. This simple exercise helps boost morale and keep your sales team motivated and selling.”
“In-office sales teams are known to be busy, bustling, and noisy,” says Brennan McEachran of Soapbox. “In fact, a lot of the sales execs I meet want their sales floors to be noisy.
However, with remote sales orgs, things can get quiet, and that can feel concerning. Are people working? Are calls going well?
My tip is to create a Slack channel dedicated to discussing sales progress. Give everyone a place where they can share all the micro wins that occur on the way to a big sale.
Booked a call? Brag in #sales-progress.
Ensure that your sales leaders are joining in to celebrate with every post to hype the team up. On top of each rep getting hyped up during the day, execs will be more abreast of progress without any worry!”
“The biggest tip we have for managing a remote sales team is to ensure that your project manager has the relationship with them to support their efforts,” says Sir Sanju Ganglani of Gang & Lani Media. “If the sales team feels unsupportive, it’s very quick for their efforts to diminish and affect pipelines.”
“Don’t try to micromanage them,” says Brian Minick of ZeroBounce. “Keep it focused on goals and achieving them. Sales team members are motivated by their own success with sales or customer interactions. Once they are motivated, get out of their way, and just keep them going. Let results speak for themselves.”
Lynell Ross of Education Advocates says, “Managers of remote employees tend to want to micromanage and control their employees even more so than in a traditional office setting, as you often feel powerless not being able to interact directly. Resist this urge and let your sales team do their job. They know their responsibilities and expectations and understand the pressure to perform. Someone constantly looking over their shoulder won’t help. Step aside and let them excel.”
Laura Hall adds, “Show that you trust your team and try to limit check-ins to scheduled and agreed times. Ensure you communicate goals and strategy clearly and effectively at every team meeting and coaching session and seek clarification that your instructions are understood by all. Give the team an opportunity to voice any concerns or stumbling blocks that may affect their output or caliber of work, and then put your trust in them to deliver on the goals. That way, everyone knows what is expected and can be held accountable if performance and output is poor.”
For example, Dave Phillipson of EntrepreneursBestFriend.com says, “Salespeople, much like entrepreneurs, don’t want to be managed. Allow them to manage themselves, but DO check in with them and offer support.
In addition, let them run the meetings. Have a rotation, allowing each person to run the sales meeting. They are in charge of contacting their counterparts and asking what subjects/topics are to be addressed. If someone doesn’t turn anything in, the items do not make the agenda for discussion or questions. This creates a tremendous amount of cohesion.”
Catriona Jasica of Top Vouchers Code says, “One great tip to effectively manage a remote sales team is to continuously provide them with proper guidance and coaching to increase their sales skills. The staff should be given enough directions to help them generate more leads and, thus, increase sales.”
For example, William Schumacher of Uprising Food recommends using Nytro AI for coaching reps.
“This is a great tool for any sales team out there,” says Schumacher. “Nytro helps you coach and evaluate your team’s success by using AI and helping them refine their selling skills. It lets you see which people are ready to go out there and sell and which ones still need more practice. With this app, your salespeople can practice their pitch and get feedback with the help of AI. The experience is enhanced with the addition of leaderboards, peer reviews, and teammates who can give valuable feedback to colleagues to ensure that they provide prospects with the ideal pitch.”
“Listen to their ideas and prepare to change yours,” says Darren Cottingham of DT Driver Training. “They are the ones talking to customers every day. They know what’s working and what isn’t. Informal chats are often the best way to get these, not group sessions where people might feel embarrassed about contributing or may not want to give away their secrets if you’re running a sales team leaderboard.”
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Digital says, “Communication is essential for managing a remote sales team efficiently. You don’t want to just ask for metrics, KPIs, and numbers. You actually want to talk to your team and, most importantly, listen to them.
As a sales manager, you’re here to help them succeed. Ask them what they need. Do they need software? Do they miss a certain type of information or content? Do they need help with productivity? Once you know what they want and need, you’ll be able to provide your help and make sure they reach their sales targets.”
Edwin Rubio of Vapor Empire adds, “Making it known to everyone that their ideas and thoughts will always be heard is critical for a motivated and productive team. Weekly team meetings will encourage collaboration and discussions amongst the group, which will help find solutions and stimulate new ideas. As a leader, it is also very important to hold recurring 1 on 1 meeting with each team member as this provides the option to speak privately on any topics that they may not want to share with the group. This opportunity also gives them a chance for a more personal conversation. Communication is the key to any relationship and building trust for a successful team.”
“Ensure every team member has clear expectations – then it’s all about communication and follow up,” says Chris Mason of HealthMarkets. “I also advise increasing the frequency of communication; unlike traditional office settings, you don’t just bump into team members; you have to have intentional interactions.”
Robert Stam of SEO Mandarin adds, “Set clear, realistic targets with incentives. Salespeople are goal-oriented in nature. If managers set concrete, achievable goals for their remote sales team, and offer bonuses for exceeding these expectations, then they will have a motivated, engaged, and focused sales force.”
“Keep your meetings productive,” says Dani Buckley of LeadG2. “Don’t have meetings just to have them. I am not a fan of a daily check in or check out – unless you find a way to ensure these are very valuable to everyone involved. All meetings should have a set agenda and be able to really support and coach your salespeople.”
Martin Seeley of MattressNextDay adds, “Avoid having meetings for meetings’ sake. If you want to be as efficient as you can, your meetings need to have a purpose.
What’s crucial in a remote environment is for you to see your crew often and maintain certain discipline around keeping meetings, as you need to compensate for “on the floor” energy. Be sure to keep things balanced by curating a schedule that works well and maximizes productivity.
Try to translate your office environment meeting rhythm into your remote surroundings, and try to keep the number of meetings corresponding to the amount of in-person ones.”
Luke Fitzgerald of Ding says, “With a sales team spread across 9 offices on 4 continents, serving customers in over 140 countries, we’ve gotta stay coordinated. We use a combination of Pipedrive, Salesforce, Google Sheets, and Asana to help us achieve our gargantuan global coordination efforts.
But these are all just vehicles for effective project management; they’re only as good as the governance and efforts invested in them, so the ONE single tip I have is to use effective language and communication to help keep your sales crew informed, educated, and motivated.
All cross-region communication efforts should always be formed in a simple, non-technical language, using ‘Flesch Reading Scores’ of 80+ as a general guide. Ideas and concepts should be clear, concise, and be devoid of any ambiguity to the end message recipient.”
Jonathan Bass of Whom Home adds, “I have had to learn how to be an effective leader whilst managing my team remotely. I’ve learned how to be more on top of my team. Ensuring constant communication and thought analysis. It has surprised us all how we have transitioned from a workplace environment to the home workplace.
Technology has been a huge help with combating the inability to collaborate while working remotely. I have focused on building systems to enhance virtual collaboration through already existing tools available to us, such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, Slack, and Telegram.
I think it’s important to have video conferencing for internal communication purposes. It allows your team to see each other visually, react on FaceTime. It keeps everybody together and feels like a team.”
“Establish a regular communication cadence,” says Mike Hal of Lookout Lofts. As a sales leader, you should be connected with each individual on your sales team consistently. These should ideally be 1:1 meetings that are scheduled at least every other week, if not weekly.
These meetings allow managers and sales reps time for reflection and goal setting and a chance to raise any issues.
You mustn’t use these meetings as simply a time to go over sales numbers, but these times should be set aside to help develop the individual and a chance for you to be aware of any roadblocks they may be facing that you can help with.
These meetings are an ideal place to help with coaching and skill development. You can gain further insight into the individuals on your team and learn what motivates them to be successful.”
AJ Alonzo of demandDrive adds, “Whether it’s checking in with your team on a daily basis, making yourself available with regular office hours, or getting your team together for a workout or happy hour after work, making sure everyone is heard early and often is crucial.
The biggest problem with remote workforces is trust – are my reps doing the right work? If not, how do I get them on the right track without micromanaging or overreacting? Communicating with them regularly helps build that trust over time. It’s one less thing for you to worry about as a manager, and you can focus on coaching instead of managing.”
“Not being able to speak and interact with your team face-to-face throughout the day changes things significantly,” says Muhammad Mateen Khan of PureVPN. “You can’t just walk over to a rep’s desk to talk about a call. Your team member can’t just drop by your office to ask a question. Communication is one of the most important challenges of having a remote workforce.
How and when you communicate is different. It’s vital to make communication as easy as possible. Use all means available – chat, email, phone, and video – to speak with individual team members and your team collectively.”
“While we believe that salespeople need accountability, we don’t see that as the biggest hurdle to working remotely,” says Paul Seegert of PCS Insurance Services. “As salespeople, we like being part of a team and the positive feedback we get when we perform. How do you keep that going remotely? We have added in a WhatsApp group for our sales teams and taken the chatter virtual. No good deed goes unnoticed, and the team is on track for a banner year.”
Ethan Taub of Billry and Cashry says, “Keeping our team engaged while working remotely is all about continuing to create a general office atmosphere where our team can catch up, talk casually and share news. This form of communication is vital to remind a team that they are working together and to create a positive atmosphere where people help each other.
Video meetings can feel pressured, and you just end up rattling through problems because it is time-consuming and distracts from emails, etc. Try to organize a team-building exercise weekly – it could be something as simple as a short quiz that allows people to relax a bit and talk to each other on a less official level.”
For example, Sam Cohen of Goldtreeway Consulting says, “Intertwine all personal goals with the general sales goals. By making everybody’s goals codependent, we encourage collaboration, teamwork, and motivation. No one on the team wants to be the one whose slack is causing the team to lag behind.
For example, a team member in charge of lead conversion has to work with his lead generation counterpart. All team members are directly or indirectly linked to increasing sales, customer satisfaction, and CRM.”
“My suggestion for managing the remote sales team is to provide the right tools,” says Shawn Lockery of Invivo Bio Systems. “If you want to take your remote sales team to the next level, you need to ensure that the team is provided with the essential tools and accessible on all the reps devices. Familiarize your sales team with the tools to become more productive and achieve sales targets on time. From remote chat to project management, video conferencing to cloud storage, you can use the right tools to manage your remote sales team.”
“I would recommend implementing a sales CRM,” says Irene Lopez of Online Optimism. “Sales CRMs allow you to be much more organized with your sales team and eases communication. With a sales CRM, all members of your team can see any kind of correspondence with your leads so you can be sure that they don’t see the same message twice from two different salespeople.”
For example, Caleb Riutta of Dusk Digital says, “Utilize HubSpot to manage remote sales teams. It is the ultimate platform to keep your CRM and team in sync with each other!”
Editor’s Note: Looking for an easy way to monitor your sales pipeline and high-level deal performance from each rep? Use this HubSpot CRM Dashboard template.
“If you want to manage a remote sales team successfully, you’ve got to have regular meetings,” says Jack Choros of Iron Monk. “Every week, every two weeks, every month, or every quarter. It’s really up to you, but the point is you need to have a way to regularly keep in touch and go over sales tactics, metrics, results, questions, and concerns.”
Grant Hensel of Nonprofit Megaphone says, “Consistent, organized mandatory meetings are a must! I suggest at least once a week. Since you aren’t sharing ideas at the watercooler, make sure you have time for everyone to brainstorm, share opinions, frustrations, and have a place to document tasks that need to get done. Make sure no one blows in the wind without encouragement and support.”
Samantha Avneri of Regpacks adds, “We’ve always had team meetings, but we’ve expanded on those. We now have ‘a connect with the sales reps’ call. They are required to meet amongst themselves at least 2x per week to go over high prospect sales they are currently working on and give feedback to each other (no managers). This is something that was easy to do in-person when you could take a break from a call and chat for 5 minutes while making some coffee. Not as easy when you’re remote, so we’ve made time for this.
We’ve also begun doing sales training and courses. This has given some concrete professional growth opportunities, which in general is great in a company to support your teams, but it has also been another way to connect with the team on what we’re learning and giving advice/motivation to put those new skills into practice.
We’ve also done monthly team Zoom lunches and happy hours – and this little bit of social time and space to connect on a more personal level, both for our team and our greater company – has been really good!”
“Ask about things outside of work,” says Katrina Dalao of Referral Rock. “A big change when managing a remote team is not having the usual “watercooler” chats. Most meetings or calls have a purpose revolving around work. This leads to not knowing much about your team members outside of their role in the company.
Without derailing the meetings too much, it’s good to have some warm-up conversation – ask about their weekend, how they’ve been doing, etc. Even just taking a few minutes to chat helps learn more about them and their environment, no matter where they are.”
“A great tip for managing sales teams would be to hold frequent one-on-one meetings,” says Osiris Parikh of Lilius. “This is a great way to review metrics and KPIs, provide feedback, check-in with staff, and have some fun water-cooler moments without a physical space.”
For example, Brandon Monaghan of Miracle Brand says, “My number one tip for managing a remote sales team is to take the time to communicate more on an individual level. I suggest focusing on listening to team members as they express any issues or concerns as well as remaining proactive and anticipating team members’ needs.
Encouraging feedback by providing them with communication channels through which they feel safe expressing their thoughts and concerns. Within my business, we use different tools to improve communication and promote collaboration while working remotely.
Some of the tools are Slack, Telegram, email, Zoom chats, conference calls. Slack has been the most beneficial for staying productive because it ties together communication, software, and a handful of other moving pieces into one platform. It helps to create a communication flow between employees where they can share their work and pass information smoothly and efficiently.”
“Stay video-oriented for communication with your team,” says Nathan Bliss of Kinsta. “One 5-minute Zoom call could be worth 30 minutes of back and forth on Slack. Moreover, you gain the benefit of being able to see your employees and listen and learn not only to their words but their body language.”
Henning Schwinum of Vendux adds, “Set the example and always turn your camera on. The visual tells you so much more about the person’s state of mind, way beyond the words. This creates the closeness that is otherwise missing when WFH.”
“Same rules apply as managing a sales team in the office, except you have to be even better,” says Josh Jordan of Prehired. “So you must over-communicate, be more intentional about relationships, and measure more sales activities more often. It’s more difficult to do, but the payoff in overall employee happiness and quality of life is better for everyone — leading to less turnover and money saved from expensive offices.
Jonathan Zacharias of The Search Guy adds, “The number one tip to managing an engaged, collaborative, and connected remote workplace is continuously working on communication. When employees are comfortable with communicating openly and know they will be heard, they are willing to come to their colleagues or me as soon as an issue arises. This allows for a quicker solution instead of building tension and resentment, which might not be reversible later when the issue gets out of hand.
Secondly, providing regular feedback to each of my employees as well as encouraging a collaborative and feedback-driven environment is extremely important for our company culture. Always making sure expectations are clear, and everyone is communicating clearly and directly. If an employee is struggling, making sure they have all the tools to succeed. Offering regular training when necessary or assigning employees to help each other while building on their skills.”
“We do daily virtual standup meetings at 10 AM PST,” says Kevin Miller of The Word Counter. “During these meetings, we discuss what we did yesterday, what we are working on today, and talk through any issues we are experiencing. We do all of our meetings via Zoom to keep each other accountable. Also, we have every task set up in Basecamp to keep things tracked and organized. It’s important to ensure that deadlines have been discussed, so there is no guesswork, and you don’t have to micromanage anyone.”
Jason Akatiff of Boundery agrees, “When it comes to scheduling, every team member has a daily 15-minute meeting with their assigned team leader to go over what was accomplished the previous day and what they plan to accomplish today. If we encounter a problem or an employee is stuck on a task, we schedule an additional meeting to provide necessary solutions or appropriate tools.
Each team also meets once a week for an hour, usually at the beginning of the week, to go over the goals for that week and make sure everyone is on the same page. Also, all of our team leaders meet once a week to ensure all teams are on track and collaborating across all levels. Lastly, I host a meeting twice a month strictly for executives.”
“Even though you may feel that you have assembled a self-motivated powerhouse team, there still needs to be a process for accountability,” says Rob Carrillo of Century 21 Haggerty. “The team members need to know that they are being held responsible for the impact that their performance has on the team as a whole.”
“Take care of yourself, first,” says Melanie Musson of QuoteCarInsurance.com. “Set your hours and stick to them. Don’t make yourself available 24 hours a day. If a team member has a question at midnight, you can answer it in the morning. You’ll wear yourself out if you’re always available.”
“Make a daily video call in the morning for 10-15 minutes maximum where you can talk with your sales team about the tasks everyone in the team will do on that day,” says Adrian Domocos of Hot in Social Media. “In these daily meetings, you can also discuss issues, new ideas, and positive/negative feedback from clients and how to react to it.”
However, following any of the remote sales management best practices above won’t help you if you have the wrong people on the team.
Nate Nead of SEO.co says, “Managing remote sales teams first requires a great team that is accountable and responsible for their own book of business. Once you have the right team in place, you need to have the right tools to allow them to maximize their effectiveness.
We use Salesforce combined with Outreach.io to maximize our initial touch and follow-ups to current and potential client leads. Once the client is onboarded, the sales team passes the baton to the project management team via a new, detailed Asana task. It’s a system we have used for years which continues to deliver for us.”
As Nead mentions, managing a remote sales team is all about ensuring you have the right salespeople on the team and then building systems and processes to help them be successful in their roles.
With today’s technology, any type of business shouldn’t have trouble setting a fully-functioning remote sales team. And with the right strategy in mind, managing shouldn’t be hard too. For managing a remote team successfully, invest in effective communication, customizable sales automation tools, and set the right environment. Your competitors are already doing it, so what are you waiting for? Take advantage of remote selling for your business.
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