You’ve surely heard the phrase, “it’s a small world”. For years, that’s been uttered whenever someone finds out they have a mutual friend or acquaintance in common. If it’s a small world generally, the business world must now be considered miniscule! With so many digital communication channels available and the use of cloud based software, business is conducted and managed more remotely than ever before. And where we work from, isn’t as restricted as it once was.
Remote working opens a world of opportunity – quite literally. In sales alone, you can have sales staff building relationships on the ground, acting as the local branch of your company, unearthing new opportunities and monitoring local market trends first hand, even if you are geographically miles apart.
But with such opportunity comes the challenge of keeping control. It’s not like you can walk over to their desk or have a daily stand up to find out what’s happening with their latest projects, or if they are confident against targets. So how do you go about managing remote teams effectively?
Here is a quick guide to effectively managing remote sales teams. By ensuring you do these five things, you will build, and be able to manage, a successful team wherever they operate.
How to manage remote employees in 5 steps
- You need the right people
As with most guides to improving business performance, it starts with the right people. If you are allowing them to work remotely and will manage them from afar, remote employees need to be:
- Self-motivated – target driven and determined, without the need for a high five or an arm around their shoulder to get things done.
- Independent – the social side of work is incredibly important to some, but a remote role needs someone comfortable in being a lone wolf for large parts of their day.
- Resourceful – you won’t be able to answer their questions at any time of day like if they were on the pod next door, so they need to be resourceful enough to work things out for themselves (giving them access to relevant sales analytics software will help them with this. See more below).
Managing remote sales teams is made easier by employing the right team members. Find out more about building successful sales teams in our blog, whether remote based or in house.
- Clear and simple to follow processes
No matter the size of the remote sales team, giving them clear and simple processes to follow will make them easier to manage. We’re not just talking instructions, more so process documents with guidelines to ensure that your team, wherever they are, work in a familiar way. After all, the actions of a single sales rep are all that a prospect or customer may have to judge your company on, so it’s important a certain standard is always maintained.
With processes documented for pipeline management, prospecting, making first contact, when to follow up, creating proposals and sign off for example, they can conduct their sales process in a structured way, and will know how to react to certain situations without the need to ask for support.
It’s important to remember, however, that any documents you create should be accessible from all types of device and available on a drive that can be accessed remotely.
- Clear expectations and KPIs
They may not have someone breathing down their neck to hear about results, but a remote team, like any sales team, needs clear goals and KPIs. Read about the importance of setting effective sales KPIs.
It’s no good hiring self-motivated, results driven people like those referenced above, without giving them a target to reach. Like the process docs, this will highlight their priorities and ensure the whole team works to an expected standard. To encourage interaction between your remote sales team, as we come on to next, set whole team and individual KPIs.
- The importance of team interaction and building a team culture
There’s no “I” in team, and though they may be operating independently, you’ll note that this piece is about how to manage a sales TEAM. So, let them talk, collaborate and build camaraderie. How do you do that when they don’t have watercooler moments or after work drinks? Here are some ways:
- Schedule a twice a week meeting over Skype with all team members. Let them talk about how things are going, share advice and concerns.
- Adjust the agenda of the meeting to include open discussion about non work-related things, such as sporting events, what they did at the weekend, etc. when you are in the office, you don’t only talk about work to your colleagues.
- Offer an online messaging system for sales teams to keep in contact and share information when necessary.
- Set joint research tasks or ask teams to work together on a project.
- Make sure you celebrate new members joining the team, birthdays, work anniversaries or performance of the month with regular whole team communications and bring these points up in your team Skype calls.
- Try and arrange a whole team face-to-face gathering at least 2-4 times a year. For a big team it can be expensive, but it’s valuable long term to get them all together for team building exercises, attending a conference or just a social night out.
Regular communication builds trust between you as their manager and the team, and between team members who don’t get to see each other every day.
- Give them the right software to work remotely
Cloud based software and file sharing makes remote collaboration possible. With the right sales and CRM software to hand, your remote sales team will have access to all the data they need, whenever and wherever they need it. This can be especially useful during prospect meetings to back up any pitch with data.
It also means they can update their results and give you, as their manager, a snapshot of how they are performing, without a regular catch up.
The right software however must:
- Be easy to navigate and understand
- Be easy to demonstrate to remote staff
- Offer online support – after all, remote worker’s days may not follow the standard 9-5
- Be compatible with a range of devices
- Enable remote staff to track their performance
- Have suitable storage space and offer secure log in from anywhere without a VPN
Managing remote sales teams is made easier with sales-i
Though you don’t see them every day, managing remote teams isn’t as difficult as it may seem. By choosing the right employees, encouraging them to interact, follow process and providing the right tools for them to do their job effectively, you can build that team culture and maintain standards from afar. Find out how sales-i sales performance software can help you manage a winning remote sales team.