How to manage a sales team remotely ?
Your work as a sales manager truly begins when your company has completed its hiring and onboarding process. Now you have the right sales reps on the ground to help achieve your company objectives with you. However, whether your representatives can perform their work effectively or not is all about how you manage them.
While leading a sales team remotely could be a herculean task for sales leaders and managers. It is good to know that the right strategy will lead to success and effectiveness if you follow it. And when your remote workers are well-managed, they can turn out as productive and successful as just as in-house teams (if not more).
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of remote selling and how you can manage your sales team effectively remotely.
What are the benefits of remote selling ?
Simply put, remote selling is a process where sales reps can sell to buyers without making physical contact. This sales approach is the same as virtual selling and requires the use of technology and communication tools to execute company sales processes. Remote selling is beneficial to sales organizations in the following ways:
1. It helps save on costs
To start selling remotely, you don’t need a physical office space. Remote selling lets sales organizations save money on fixed costs associated with renting and running a physical office space. With this sales approach, you can host a virtual meeting with clients to initiate and close deals, saving you from unnecessary traveling expenses and the stress and risks associated with meeting long-distant clients.
However, selling remotely requires little investment. It would help if you had a ‘virtual office’ and the right tools and technologies to conduct sales effectively – which could cost you a small amount of money. But this is nothing compared to how much setting up a physical workplace and conducting in-person customer meetings can cost.
2. It increases the efficiency of your remote sales workers
With remote selling, your sales reps would have time to focus more on selling activities. They can now concentrate more on generating and capturing hot leads and perfecting sales pitches instead of spending time on non-selling activities like traveling to meet customers in person. The more time sales reps have at hand to reach out to more prospects, pitch to them, and hone their sales skills, the higher their chances to capture more hot leads, engage with prospects, and shorten the entire sales cycle length.
3. It removes global restrictions on selling
Remote selling provides sellers an avenue to reach out to buyers from across the globe. If you can guarantee your internet network stability, you can sell as much as you want to buyers globally through this selling approach. This way, your business operations, and activities are not affected by lockdown, curfew, social distancing, and other restrictions that could limit your business success.
There are many sales enablement tools (including video conferencing platforms) and technologies that remote sellers can leverage to pitch to clients (both local and foreign) and scale their business. Using these tools, you can set up virtual meetings with prospects and customers to convince them to buy from you.
4. It boosts employee morale
According to Omdia’s 2020 Future of Work Survey, 68% of companies reported a boost in productivity after going remote. When sales reps can decide their work hours and work environment (which is what remote selling allows for), they tend to be happier, and thus they focus more energy on sales opportunities. Employee happiness could mean better employee engagement, which will translate to increased productivity.
What should a sales manager do to manage a sales team remotely effectively ?
Here are five ways you can manage a sales team remotely to ensure engagement and productivity:
1. Set performance targets for individual sales rep
Effectively managing a sales team from a distance requires you (as a sales manager) to regularly establish a benchmark for the performance assessment of your sales reps. This is beneficial for both you and your sales team. For your sales team, they would get to know how many sales deals they must close to reach their sales quotas. For sales managers, setting performance targets for your reps would let you keep track of the team’s sales activities and watch as they’re getting closer to meeting sales quotas.
To set realistic performance targets for your team, you must first review your sales process for critical sales activities. These include average deal size, the total number of days to close a deal, the number of cold sales calls (or video calls) that turn into a meeting, the percentage of discussions leading to closed deals, and more. Once you look into these sales metrics, you could set a target for each sales rep daily or weekly. Then set up a sales leaderboard where you can track these activities. These data can be helpful for sales leaders in optimizing sales team activities to improve their overall performance and productivity.
2. Be clear about your virtual sales process
It would help if you defined every stage of your sales process and critical sales activities according to your company objectives and target customers. Ensure your remote sales team has a better understanding of your sales process and see to its consistent application by the whole team.
As a sales manager, you must guide and provide sales training to your reps about every stage involved in your sales process and see to its optimization together to achieve better results. This way, you can ensure that your remote sellers understand what is expected of them at every stage of the sales process, and they won’t have any difficulty executing what is expected of them. Thus, your remote workers will get to stay on top of their sales activities at all times, and you will find it easier to track their progress.
3. Adopt asynchronous and collaborative communication
Effective communication is key to the proper management of a sales team. It helps ensure you and your team remain on the same page. However, in a digital environment, it’s always a big challenge for sales managers with remote workers from all walks of life to maintain team communication. For sales leaders and managers, adopting asynchronous communication can help you deal with remote reps in different time zones.
Simply put, asynchronous communication is the concept of communication that doesn’t require an immediate response from the recipients (that is, communication between two or more parties is not occurring in real time). Communicating by email or collaboration tools like Slack and Asana is an example of asynchronous communication. That way, you’re offering your team members the flexibility to respond when they can, which could help minimize communication lags that often occur due to the physical unavailability of your team to respond to your message in real time.
Sales managers should adopt asynchronous video communication to update their team members about buyer activities and responses, send motivational messages, or inform them about BIG wins. Generally, asynchronous communication is a better way to maintain communication with remote sales reps dispersed in different time zones.
4. Hold your salespeople responsible for their results
You can ensure your remote sales team remains productive by instilling a sense of accountability in each rep. When sales representatives feel personally accountable for their results, they tend to work harder because they know they’ll have to own their performance goals (good or bad) at the end of selling activities. That way, you’ve created an atmosphere where sales reps have to take responsibility for planning their sales activities and tracking their performance to reach sales quotas.
5. Use the right sales KPIs to track your sales team’s performance
As a sales manager, you must know the sales KPIs that matter and also learn how to track them. Tracking the right conversion metrics would let you find out about the overall health status of your sales process and how well each sales rep is performing. The key sales metrics to track include (but are not limited) to the following:
- Sales activities per rep
- Pipeline conversion rates
- Sales by contact method
- Average conversion time
- Sales by lead source
Monitoring your virtual sales process and sales reps requires focusing on the sales metrics that matter to their success.
A sales manager must understand that managing a sales team off-site can be more challenging than an in-house scenario, especially when your remote workers are spread across the globe. In this case, face-to-face sales meetings are no longer feasible, and you’ll have time-zone differences to worry about each time you want to hold a virtual sales meeting with your team. In addition, you’ll have limited control over your remote team activities and workflows. However, by keeping the five ways highlighted in this article in mind, each time you have a sales team to manage remotely, you’ll excell in your managerial duty.
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