More businesses than ever before are now finding themselves working remote. For some sales managers and business owners, this is a terrifying thought. Used to the comfort of morning meetings, a quick check over a team member’s shoulder, listening in to a call and being able to “see who is working”, many managers begin to feel concerned about leading their team when they’re all working from home.
The reality is that there are challenges to running a remote team, perhaps even more so for a sales team than many operational teams. But these challenges can be overcome, and when done right, a remote environment can help take your sales team from surviving to thriving. At Exposure Ninja, we have been running our business 100% remotely for over eight years, and with a team of over 100 Ninjas, we have learned more than a few lessons along the way. In this post, we give you our top six tips on how to manage a remote sales team.
1. Set Expectations
Common remote working fears for managers include, “What if my team spends all their time watching Netflix?”, “How will they know what they should be focusing on?”, and “How will I know they’re doing what they should be?” These only need to be concerns if you don’t have a set of processes set up to protect your team, clients and business. We’ll cover this more below, but the first step you can take right now is to set clear expectations.
This isn’t only about outlining what you expect of your team but also what they can expect of you. This should cover the basics, such as start and finish times and when your meetings will be, including what time they should arrive and how they should present themselves when they do. Your team should also know when to expect you to be online, when and how they should contact you and what support you will offer them.
Creating a checklist of expectations to set can be useful to make sure you have your bases covered as you transition to remote working.
Expectations to Set for You and Your Team
- Working hours
- What tools should be used
- Response times (to clients and each other)
- When team calls will be and on what platform
- Which calls will be video calls, along with any presentation requirements or etiquette
- Sales targets for each day/week
- Required activities for each day/week (e.g. number of outbound calls made)
- Where sales activities should be recorded
- Where new sales should be announced and recorded
- Where the team should go if they have questions or need support
- How they should contact you and when
2. Build Processes
You likely already have some great processes in place that work well and can be adapted for remote working, but there are also probably a few examples that were not well-received by your team — now is a good opportunity to improve them.
The best processes will protect you, your team, your clients and your business by having a clear structure and leaving little room for miscommunication or lost information. When reviewing your existing processes and creating new ones, there are four particular areas to focus on:
- How to track and process your leads
- How to replace face-to-face sales meetings
- How to replace “in-office” sales feedback
- How to declare and record sales
How to Track and Process Leads
In most offices, sales teams will use a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) to update their leads and pipelines in a disciplined way. When moving to remote work, this is one process that often won’t need updating or changing — except for perhaps conducting the morning meeting online!
If you haven’t used a CRM before, now could be a good time to start using one. You’ll be able to store and organise your leads in one place and clearly see what your team is working on.
How to Replace Face-to-Face Sales Meetings
In-person meetings can often be replaced with video calls, while some presentations can be conducted online alongside a walkthrough video. Many screen-capture tools* are available that you can use to deliver a strong presentation without relying on long video conferences. You can also record these for future reference, to use when training new team members and for sharing with prospects. At Exposure Ninja, this comes in the form of a Free Digital Marketing and Website Review, which is followed up with the offer of a consultation call.
How to Replace ‘In-Office’ Sales Feedback
More than just reviewing the metrics, you’ll probably want to review a rep’s work to be able to offer feedback and coaching. The CRM you use can help you do this, as can other tools such as call software, which we’ll talk about in the tools section.
But even with these to help you, your team will likely listen to fewer calls made by their colleagues, since they’re not all sitting in the same office! Overhearing a great phrase or some slick objection-handling can be a source of inspiration and training reinforcement for many reps, so how can you make sure this doesn’t become a sticking point for your remote sales team?
To ensure your team gets regular feedback and access to inspirational calls, consider introducing a “feedback loop”. Each week, your team members review someone else’s call, email, presentation or proposal. This powerful method allows all team members to get regular feedback, share what they know and listen to the way someone else does it. With a good rotation plan, each team member should receive regular feedback from top performers while also being able to offer feedback to poorer performers.
How to Declare and Record Sales
Declaring a sale is not only important as a business function and for keeping you, as a manager, informed, but it’s also an important mental process for your team to complete. Some members of your team will be motivated purely by commission, but many more will be motivated by earning the respect of their team or beating the competition. As you build your new remote process, get your team into the routine of declaring a sale in a public place — such as in a group chat — and be the first to call attention to, and congratulate, your team members on their performance.
If your CRM is working as it should, recording your sales should be simple and can probably mimic a process that you were using in the office. To take this one step further, consider whether the recording process exists because it’s the closest thing to mimicking your office setup or because it’s the most useful and effective method. If it’s mimicry only, don’t be afraid to change it.
3. Use The Right Tools
The tools you use to manage your remote team will depend on what you sell and the size of your team. The bigger your team, the more important your communication tools will be. Investing in facilitating communication, whether internal or external, is an absolute no-brainer. The amount of money and time that you can save from preventing miscommunication and back and forth will far outweigh the price of most solutions.
At Exposure Ninja, we use Slack internally. We trialled other tools in the past, but as our teams grew, we soon outgrew the older solutions. They didn’t allow for separate conversations about different projects or between different teams. We also found that old messages couldn’t be filed or organised, and so a lot of useful, and sometimes vital, information would quickly get buried or lost altogether.
For contacting clients, we use several tools depending on the call type. Ensuring that you choose a reliable tool that requires very little effort for your clients and prospects to use (not requiring downloads, for example) is essential. Many solutions also offer recording facilities, which will allow you to review your team’s calls (or put them in your shiny new feedback loop!).
Other useful tools include:
- A time-tracking software, such as Hubstaff*
- A task manager
- A reliable CRM
- A reliable screen-capture software
- A password storage facility
If you’re looking for help with getting your team set up remotely, our Remote Work Revolution Training and Consultancy can help you identify and set up the right tools and processes to help your business thrive.
4. Protect Wellbeing
For some team members, remote working will come quite naturally, but for others, it can be a challenging adjustment. Working from home allows employees to work according to their natural rhythms, eat better, exercise more and free up time usually spent commuting. But teams have to be well-supported to ensure they feel the benefits of the move, as reduced social contact can lead employees to feel isolated.
There aren’t the same casual opportunities for interaction like there are in the office kitchen while picking up a sandwich at lunchtime or around the proverbial water cooler, so as the manager, you will need to orchestrate opportunities for interaction. This won’t only keep your team motivated, but it’ll also strengthen your team members’ relationships with each other and create a strong support system.
Things like hosting a Friday quiz session or creating interest channels that all teams in the company can access are simple yet effective methods to boost morale and cultivate a sense of togetherness, even when colleagues may be miles apart from one another physically.
More generally, giving your team regular opportunities for team-building during internal meetings can have a positive impact. Popular items for the agenda include “show and tell” or general chatter before the meeting starts. Aside from the types of interaction that you plan in advance, you should always open up communication with your team to talk about their wellbeing and how they are feeling. While you’ll often address this in one-to-ones, you may want to increase the frequency of these check-ins, as it can be harder to pick up on the signs that they are struggling in private while they appear okay in team meetings.
5. Attract Leads — Digitally
Whether you’re in the office, at home or working from a cafe, attracting and successfully converting leads will be the core focus of your mission. You may be lucky enough to employ an agency or have in-house marketing professionals supporting your team in finding the leads you need.
If you have previously relied heavily on shows, clients visiting your office or store, or physical marketing, then you may now need to revisit your strategy to secure additional streams of leads. If you have already created an effective digital marketing strategy that delivers leads, now is the time to apply a diverse approach. For example, if your website is currently generating leads through paid traffic only, you will want to invest in your SEO strategy to secure organic growth and leads.
If the website is generating no leads at all, it’s time to take a serious look at where your opportunities are to improve your process for lead generation. If you’d like help identifying where the biggest opportunities are for your business, we can help by conducting a Free Digital Marketing and Website Review. Claim yours at https://exposureninja.com/review/.
6. Know When to Get Help
Managing a remote working team can take some trial and error. Over our eight years of operating remotely, we’ve learnt a lot of lessons — some the hard way! Going from stagnant to fully operational in the shortest time is vital for maintaining sales figures and achieving stability in your business.
To help business owners and managers with the transition, we’re offering a free remote work webinar and consultation call. Our Remote Working Revolution Training and Consultancy is designed to get you where you need to be as quickly as possible — while helping you avoid the pitfalls you might fall into by going it alone.
Get started today by booking your free consultation with a Ninja.
*Some links within this article are affiliate links which Exposure Ninja receives a fee for promoting (these links are not sponsored). Exposure Ninja only promotes services we already use within our marketing stack