Given the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses worldwide are pivoting to a remote working environment. However, this can prove to be quite the challenge for salespeople, who are not used to selling in a remote capacity, but also those that feed off the buzz of meeting prospects in person.
That said, though, remote selling, when done correctly, can positively impact the sales process, improve team productivity, and create a pipeline full of warm leads.
In this piece, we’ll be exploring just how the right remote selling processes can help you to effectively manage your sales team from the other side of a computer screen.
The Benefits of Selling Remotely
Remote selling refers to the method of making sales where neither the buyer nor the selling party ever come into physical contact with each other.
A few benefits to this approach include:
1. Cost Reduction
The most apparent benefit of managing a remote sellers team is the amount of money your business will save. Your sales personnel may be spending on car fuel, flights, hotels, and other expenses in normal times.
2. Redeployment of Productivity
When you take the hours and hours involved in traveling to and from meetings, you’ll find that you have plenty of hours spare to funnel into other productive activities.
Instead, this time can be spent on qualifying leads, reaching out to more prospects, and improving your entire sales process. The more you can refine these processes, the easier it will be for your business to generate more leads, nurture prospects and close more deals in a shorter time frame.
How to Manage Your Remote Sales Team?
Although there are certainly upsides to remote sales, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an easy task.
Sales management principles will still apply, but when things don’t go according to plan, it’s no longer a case of simply getting up from your desk and seeking face-to-face clarification of the issue at hand.
This section contains three processes that must be adopted if you’re looking to make a success of remote sales.
1. Define Clear Expectations
When you set your expectations for the team, it’s essential to reach the same performance levels that you would in normal circumstances.
According to a recent poll by Gallup, 38% of respondents felt far more engaged and motivated in their work once they were given clearly defined priorities and expectations by those in charge.
By establishing a clear expectation of what you need from the remote team, you’re ensuring that standards won’t drop. Within this, you must clearly benchmark objectives, procedures for lead management, and offer ideas of how to help them manage their time more effectively.
You must also be willing to get on a video call to discuss these expectations personally and tailor each to suit that specific team member.
2. Invest in Technology
Most businesses these days work on the cloud as a matter of course. Storage providers, such as Google and Microsoft, give your team the flexibility to share data, which can be viewed and managed securely.
Adopting cloud-based storage enables your team to access relevant information from their devices at home or through their smartphone. This means that everyone in the team has the most up-to-date information to hand at all times.
3. Building Trust
When managing a remote team, building mutual trust is vital to your success, particularly in sales. After all, you’re not experiencing that face-to-face interaction as you would in the office.
Communication is key when looking to build trust, but this can be a challenging prospect when working remotely.
As a manager, you need to take time to ensure that your working schedule overlaps with the majority of your team. That way, if something crops up that needs your attention, you’re always available to them.
When you can pay your team the attention they deserve, you begin to build trust. However, this can be tough because it’s so much harder to track progress remotely. This is why, as we mentioned previously, it’s essential to set expectations, so you can track end results and leave the team to manage their time as they see fit, without micromanaging.
Asynchronous & Collaborative Communication
Even though selling remotely has its perks, many sales managers who are not used to managing things from afar may struggle to establish operational efficiency.
According to a recent study by Buffer, collaboration, and communication are two of the biggest struggles that remote teams will have to manage:
When you communicate with someone in person, you benefit from body language to help shape your interpretation of what is being said to you. When working from home, this, plus delayed responses and a lack of emotional nuance, can lead to frustration, anxiety, and misleading conclusions.
As a leader, adopting asynchronous communication can help you overcome this hurdle.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication is the idea of sending a message without the expectation of an instant reply. Examples of this communication in action include email and collaboration tools such as Slack or Asana.
This is the opposite of synchronous communication, which happens in real-time. Some examples of which include face-to-face interaction, telephone calls, and video conferences.
Asynchronous environments promote the idea that work isn’t happening for everyone at the same time. In other words, some members may set out time in their day to respond to these kinds of communications, whereas others are more reactive.
By encouraging this approach, you give your employees more flexibility over how their time is managed. This relieves any anxiety that may be experienced when one member of the team is waiting on a reply to a query or deadline.
Remote Training & Development
Even in a remote environment, it’s still just as crucial to guide and develop your team to ensure processes are optimized and results are achieved as you need them to be.
Bear in mind that a key component of training your team is establishing a clear and effective strategy for the way you go about selling. By installing step-by-step processes, your team will know what is required of them at every juncture of the sale journey. This makes it easier for everyone to see where a prospect is along the sales pipeline and provides a yardstick on which to be measured.
Consider some of the following ways to further hone the team’s ability to push for better results:
1. Virtual Shadowing
In the same way, you would for a new recruit or junior member of staff, take your team into virtual client meetings to give them a flavor of what it’s like to communicate with a prospect via video conferencing.
You could do this by having them participate in the meeting themselves, or by asking them to watch back a recording of the meeting once it’s been completed.
Some of your team members will take to virtual selling far more quickly than others, so you must set the tone and lead by example, showing each team precisely what processes to follow when conducting their meetings.
2. Learn How to Host a Virtual Sales Meeting with Your Team
A crucial facet of your role is conducting regular meetings with your team. These sales meetings are essential when looking to share information, update strategies, and ensuring everyone is getting that face time with each other.
As the team leader, you must be ensuring these meetings are efficient, productive, and transparent. It’s okay for everyone to catch up and enjoy socializing with each other. But if the end result is that there’s no clear plan of action, you’re just having a meeting for a meeting’s sake.
Before each meeting, set out a clearly defined agenda. Ensure that any issues or concerns the team has been added to it. Also, make sure that everyone is leaving the meeting focused and on the same page.
3. Dashboards & Leaderboards
Any salesperson worth their salt has at least some semblance of a competitive streak about them, and by creating sales leaderboards and analytical dashboards, you can publicly display sales information team-wide.
A ranking system like this has the potential to push the sales process along with a good dash of healthy competition between the team. If you have the right sort of personality, this could well result in more sales as each team member tries to outsell each other.
However, this is a case of personal taste, since some team members may not have personalities that lend themselves to this kind of competition. If this is the case, ensure that you create multiple dashboards to keep an eye on your best and worst-performing team members so you can distribute your resources where necessary.
4. Pinpoint Unhealthy Pipeline Activity
If your sales pipeline has been impacted in recent months, you really need to ensure that you’re quantifying every part of the sales process to understand whether it is necessary or not.
If you want to set realistic expectations for the team, you must first understand what quantifies your business’s success.
For example, if you need to make X amount of sales to quantify success, then the team must be delivering Y number of proposals to ensure you’re converting at a certain rate.
To make the most of this data, you’ll first need to understand what percentage of your generated revenue directly results from each salesperson, how long the average prospect remains in the sales pipeline, and why some will make more sales than others.
For example, are they less experienced in sales? Are they following the correct sales process? Were they given the training and development they needed to prosper?
5. Set a Realistic Vision of Success
Once you’ve analyzed your team’s results and activities from the previous point, you’ll have a far more precise picture of what essential metrics you have and how you can prioritize these within the business.
It’s important to note here that you need to be realistic though. Depending on your industry, it may be unrealistic to expect that your numbers will be as strong as they were pre-pandemic. So you must bear this in mind when you’re delivering each set of KPIs to the team.
Fostering a Professional Selling Environment
Selling from home is an entirely different prospect than selling in the office. As the leader of this remote sales team, it’s essential that you set the tone to help your team create a professional environment conducive to selling and productivity. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Setting Up a Home Office
Creating a dedicated area in your home for working can help you remain focused and motivated. To create a more productive space, you should consider:
- Creating a clean desk free of clutter.
- Investing in ergonomic chairs for yourself and everyone in the team.
- Ensure that the working space has enough light.
- Invest in stationery such as pens, notepads, and diaries and make sure your entire team has them.
Creating a clean, comfortable space away from everyday life distractions can ensure that you and your team remain on task and productive.
This study highlights that those in a neat environment were 1.5 times persistent in their tasks than those working in cluttered surroundings.
2. Make Sure Everyone Has the Right Tools
You shouldn’t hesitate to ensure that your remote sales team has access to the same tools they’d have in an office environment. Ensure that they can do their job to the same standards as you are doing.
For example, it could be a good idea to invest in high-quality webcams, noise-canceling headphones, and any software necessary for working from home. If your company has the budget available, these seemingly small things can ensure that not only are the team has the right gear, but they can also see that you care too.
Your business needs to be ready to take up remote selling whenever necessary in this day and age. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us that life as we know it can be transformed in an instant. It’s those companies that can pivot to a new way of working that will succeed.