Modern internet-based communications and effective management techniques enable remote teams to be more productive than ever before. Remote sales teams have their own unique challenges in addition to the problems that any remote team must manage.
Sales is a business function that lends itself to independent work and attracts self-motivated personalities, which makes it well-suited to remote team work. Below are the top 10 tips we’ve found to be helpful when managing remote sales teams.
1. Set clear and practical objectives
Any team needs objectives to operate well as a group, but it becomes more important with remote teams to communicate objectives clearly, more often, and on a more practical level. Because remote team members interact less frequently outside of formal meetings, it isn’t wise to rely on your team to disseminate objectives and policies informally in one-on-one interactions. You’ll also need to reiterate objectives more often to maintain team work.
2. Create a process-based culture
Formal processes are needed by remote teams because it’s more difficult for them to learn the team’s day-to-day tasks on their own. By creating processes and documenting them well, you’ll greatly reduce the time and effort required to bring new team members on board. Those process documents will form the basis for training sessions and give new sales reps exercises to follow as they learn.
3. Develop a process for selecting the right tools
When forming remote sales teams, it’s important to decide how you’ll go about choosing the tools and technologies that you’ll ask your team members to leverage in their day-to-day activities. Your organization may have common tools that your team will need to adopt, but it’s important to select tools internal to your team in a way that ensures buy-in. If tools aren’t helpful for a team member, it’s less likely they will use them than it is for employees in an office setting. They may find tools of their own that make collaboration difficult down the road.
4. Leverage remote communication technologies
Communications tools and services designed to enable remote work and team management has proliferated in recent years as the internet and cloud technology continues to transform the way we do business. In addition to communication tools such as VoIP and video conferencing that are available from companies like Epik Networks, remote sales teams should take a look at Unified Communications. These platforms bring voice, chat, texting, and social media channels together into a single application to improve the effectiveness of sales, marketing, and customer service.
5. Organize remote teams with project management tools
If your team is large or juggles multiple projects that are complex, it’s a good idea to adopt project management tools to stay organized and on-time. They can help team members stay on the same page when they need to cooperate on a single account, and individual team members can use them to make the most of their own time. Sales teams can adopt cloud-based project management tools for their needs that provide a simple and inexpensive way to stay in sync across time zones.
6. Don’t shy away from over communication
Remote teams don’t spend as much time together, so it’s important to balance that independence with more communication. It’s less likely that a remote team member will pick up the phone or initiate a chat about minor questions than it is for coworkers who sit in the same office. This means well-functioning remote teams needs more communication that would be normal that anticipates simple questions and answers them up front. It also helps to find chat tools that are not obtrusive, so team members will be more comfortable using them outside of meetings.
7. Hire self-starters for remote teams
Remote team members need to be motivated to handle their tasks and goals since their managers aren’t able to constantly supervise them. When you pick team members or decide it’s time to expand a sales team with new hires, you’ll want to select self-starters people who won’t require much day-to-day supervision once they are up to speed with your process.
8. Don’t be afraid to delegate decisions
The nature of remote teams means that each sales rep will need to make their own decisions during their day. Managers who aren’t comfortable delegating decisions and then trusting their team members will find remote teams difficult. Micro-managing isn’t effective when working with remote colleagues, and it will frustrate your team members.
9. Get to know each other in person
Collaborative teams integrate socially and become effective when team members get to know each other on a personal level. This is difficult to do when they only interact through virtual technologies and voice calls, or when all their interaction consists of business meetings. If a remote sales team needs help integrating more closely, it’s a good idea to bring them together for in-person meetings, so they can get to know each better. Extended retreats are a great way to boost collaboration when remote teams are too far apart geographically for regular get-togethers.