How To Manage A Remote Sales Team
Most salespeople work on field and do not have the luxury of a desk job. Large companies with global presence have sales teams spread across time zones. The standard structure of a sales team today includes a sales manager, who typically handles inside sales teams, account managers and executives across locations. The inside sales teams work from a single location and generate leads for their companies. However, the sales managers and the higher hierarchy may be located across different continents, like US, Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia etc.
But how do these sales teams collaborate and communicate ? And if you are a manager how do you manage your sales team? You need to have an international sales management plan to evaluate your business needs and set goals accordingly. When your teams works from different locations, you not only have to manage sales performance strategies but also deal with different time zones, break communication barriers, and motivate your team.
One of the major benefits of having remote employees is choosing the best performers across geographies. A study from a Chinese travel website, Ctrip reveals that employees who work remotely showed a 13% increase in their performance. Another report from the United Nations International Labour Organization found that while employees are more productive when they work outside of the conventional office, work for long hours.
But sometimes measuring employee engagement can be a challenge with remote employees and it is necessary to keep a keen eye on your remote sales executives. This is due to lack of face-to-face interaction, which is a major factor while assessing employee commitment and performance. Below are few points which shed some light on managing remote sales teams that could help you.
Fill The Gaps With Technology
Technology is basically built on the lines of eliminating communication barriers and improving collaboration at your business . Most SaaS based applications are built on cloud, so that your remote sales team can leverage online applications rather than desktop applications.
There are many benefits of online applications, such as Google drive, out of which few are mentioned below:
• They are easily accessible to various team members
• Communication is real-time and available anywhere and everywhere. Time invested in emailing documents can be eliminated.
• Flow of conversations becomes efficient as sharing files is more easy and controlled
• Online documents help you to work together simultaneously on single documents
• Sharing files and documents is easy. Just give access to whomsoever you intend to, and that’s it.
• You don’t have to email the updated documents over and over again as in the case of desktop applications, because feedback and changes are saved instantly.
You can eliminate the lack of face-to-face interactions by building internal communication channels through video calling software, like Skype or RingCentral. The more you see your team, the more they connect with you and take responsibility. There are many all-in-one cloud solutions available that can be used for video-conferencing, team messaging, team collaboration, group video calls, screen sharing, and more.
It’s hard to manage your time and work when working remotely. There are constant temptations that can result in procrastination and delays. In such instances, you get to the end of day and have nothing to show for work.
Remote workers need to be self-motivated experts at time management, because they don't have superiors constantly overlooking their work or managing their time. Putting in the work is an investment that pays huge dividends ! While every worker might find it difficult to stick to a schedule and manage their to-dos, it i's especially challenging for remote workers who have more flexible, free- form days as well as managers in a different parts of the world.
Set your goals and compare your performance with your colleagues. Gamification software, such as Agile CRM , ramps up competition amongst sales executives with side-by-side comparisons of individuals’ performance, deals won, deals lost, deals in pipeline, number of calls made in a day-week-month, revenue generated and a lot more. This develops a healthy competition driving you to prioritize work without any supervision. Plus, research shows that employees who have autonomy over their schedules work harder .
In an article for the Guardian, Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School asserted that the distaste for remote working comes down to suspicion from senior teams with regard to performance. The trust factor in the hierarchy is thus, very important.
Give them your trust and allow them to reinforce it. But trusting a sales representative, who did not generate any revenue for a while, could be quite challenging and frustrating. Ironically, that’s when you trust someone. You support and encourage open communication, understand challenges and provide solutions.
Sometimes, a sales rep can utterly fail in one region, but the same could do wonders in a different location. Or the same could be with products or services. Sit with them one-on-one, be available for their texts, calls or emails. Show them how to utilize business blogging for lead generation and conversions. You can even join them on their sales meetings which could be very encouraging to them.
While trusting is good and positive, you also need to have systems in place to ensure accountability. Share these standards with new sales representatives. It’s certainly not about micro management, but to have facts to refer, just in case. As long as they achieve their numbers, give your team the choice of freedom - freedom to follow their heart.
Encourage Social Interactions
Promote and mandate positive interaction among your team members. Take the opportunity of that monthly ‘sales and marketing meeting’, where you can ask your team to share the latest closures, deals in their pipeline and the pending ones. It’s a great way for team members to learn and educate themselves on different approaches, market variations, selling process etc.
For instance, a sales rep from US market might have closed more deals in healthcare and life sciences industry, and he can educate others on what products are more received in that industry, what are the challenges, and discuss the differences in the audience market of US vs Australia or Europe etc.
Moreover, meetings with the team streamlines the processes of addressing major challenges and brainstorming complex sales strategies. Everyone benefits from such participation. At the same time, create lighter moments by discussing outside your job responsibilities, and stimulate discussions on everyday topics, like the trending ones, sports, events in your city etc.
Right Tools To Monitor
Invest in the right tool to track the sales team. Deals are the heart and soul of your sales team. CRM tools like Agile help you to make success out of every deal. You can create multiple deal tracks with custom milestones, trigger automatic follow-ups, get real time deal metrics and predict future revenue. It provides a customizable sales platform for clearer insights, repeatable results, and smarter sales force automation.
With Zoho, the KPIs that you feed into your system to track the performance of your team can be customized or put into pre-built templates for better management. This tool will also report on team capabilities by showcasing exactly where your team excels and where they need more training.
Sales Cloud by Salesforce gives you a long list of features ranging from contact management to sales forecasting and email integration. Sales Cloud handles your sales team issues about how to sell smarter with Salesforce .
“Managing a remote sales team is tough” should be a phrase of the past. You have all that you need to do better by effectively communicating and motivating your team.
I hope you enjoyed this article about how to successfully manage a remote sales team.
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