The need to work remotely has never been more pressing than it is now. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is spreading around the world, and as a result, many companies are asking their employees to work from the safety of their homes. Supporting remote employees is nothing new, but when it comes to managing inside sales teams that almost entirely work on the phones and are used to being together, it can be a new challenge. It’s important to maintain a lively sales culture even as your team transitions into working remotely. To help, here are some useful tips to manage remote sales teams and build a stronger team culture than ever before!
Challenges inside sales team face when working remotely
Inside sales teams usually work together in the same office, providing plenty of opportunities for communicating and celebrating new sales. Inside sales teams thrive on camaraderie and healthy competition, and teams that now find themselves mostly working remotely can struggle to keep motivation high.
Any inside sales rep who has recently switched to working from home will face unique challenges such as dealing with distractions that don’t exist in an office environment, difficulty maintaining fluid communication, and even a sense of isolation from the rest of their team. These challenges can lead to loss of motivation and even dips in performance levels.
Recognizing and identifying these challenges for your employees is the first step your organization can take towards addressing them and successfully managing a newly remote inside sales team.
Tips for managing a successful remote sales team
Here are a few steps managers can put into place to help make the transition as smooth as possible:
Encourage social interaction
Isolation can be a real problem for employees who typically don’t work remotely, and often has a negative impact on employee engagement. For this reason, creating a space for social interactions among team members is very important. Designate a group chat for your whole team to use as a general communications channel. Make it a space that’s friendly to work-related messages as well as interpersonal socializing. This will help keep up camaraderie.
In addition, be aware that you may need to check in more frequently with your reps on a one-on-one basis. Your sales reps may be struggling with elements of work from home and they might not bring it up. As a manager, it may be helpful to recognize the challenges of the current situation and ask your team to be open about how it is affecting them. If anything it is important to help your team feel heard and supported. Now more than ever, we all must take care of our mental health and well-being.
Maintaining communication and collaboration within your sales team is vital. It is also important to consider how collaboration with other departments may be affected as everyone is working from their homes. You will need to develop a strategy to keep up communication and continued follow through on projects with other departments such as marketing, customer support, collections, etc. Designating a point person in each department to spearhead communication about a project or ongoing issue can be very helpful. Try to also keep up regular meetings via video chat so everyone stays on the same page.
Establish clear processes and document everything
Having clear daily procedures for teams and individuals to follow provides a framework for each day. This helps reduce ambiguity around what reps need to be doing throughout each day. More structure is often helpful for reps who are not used to working from home. Here are some processes you may want to consider for your inside sales team:
- Ask your reps to write in the all-team group chat when they start their day and when they end so everybody knows when they are logged on and available.
- Designate a point of contact for any issues with computers, vpns, logins, etc. so reps don’t waste time trying to find help with technical glitches.
- Set clear daily expectations, define priorities and the roles each person has within their team and the tasks they are responsible for. Since they all know what’s the standard and what they should strive to achieve, you can increase productivity and motivation.
Empower your remote sales team with the right tools
One of the common issues for any company moving to remote work in a short amount of time is making sure employees have access to the technology they need to complete their day-to-day tasks. This means having the right equipment, good internet connection, and a range of other tools to share, collaborate, and communicate every day.
You will find that some processes can stay the same, (maybe your CRM needs to be used the same as ever) while others will get a lot more use than before as your team needs to rely more on technology to connect. Here are some functions to make sure are well covered for your sales team.
- Internal Communication: It’s important to have a way to message each other on a daily basis, either to check-in, to discuss progress or to just say “Good morning, team!”. Some of the most popular messaging tools today are Slack, HipChat, Stride, and Twist.
- Store data: Having a safe and secure space where sales teams can upload important information like reports, find procedure documents, share files, etc., is key to any sales operation. Some CRM tools already provide storage, but for other files having another central location like Google Drive, PandaDoc or Dropbox can really help simplify processes and keep everything organized.
- Conferencing/Video Calling: Participating in daily meetings can be a good way to keep up engagement, motivation and lower the stress of isolation. Whether you prefer to use Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc., the important thing is that you keep up consistent communication.
- Performance management: Knowing which areas of your operation are falling behind or doing well is key to keeping your sales team on target. There are several tools out there for sales teams, including Altify, Betts Recruiting, and Hurrah!
Gamify your remote team
Making your team’s key performance indicators front and center is especially helpful to keep remote employees connected to their goals. Hurrah! Leaderboards is a performance broadcasting solution that helps sales teams stay motivated with live leaderboards, real-time achievement recognition, custom media sharing and communication features, and much more. Employees can stay always up-to-date on team goals, sales strategies, company news, and what their colleagues are accomplishing all in one place. Learn more about our product plans.
Virtually all jobs can be done from home, and sales is no exception. This does not mean that things will run efficiently from the beginning. Successfully managing a remote sales team takes time and effort, but by following our recommendations you will have a solid and efficient team in no time!