Let’s flashback to your sales team in the year 2019...
- The sales floor is bustling with colleagues walking by each other’s cubicles, talking about their plans for this weekend, and discussing the big wins they had today on their sales calls.
- One rep had a question come up during his last call that he couldn’t answer fully, so he swings by your office to get some advice for the next time that issue pops up.
- Team meetings are taking place in the conference room and your favorite local caterer is supplying lunch.
And now, here is your team in 2020:
- Your office is closed and your team is 100% remote.
- All of the casual social interaction is gone.
- There’s no chance to bounce ideas off people you run into at the water cooler.
- Quick meetings in your office and team meetings in the conference room are no longer an option.
- Your team is solely relying on your CRM system for their data and answers.
- And it is likely that this is your company’s new normal...indefinitely.
While all these changes may seem overwhelming, there are several ways you can equip your remote sales team for success. In this post, I’m going to share three specific areas to focus your attention.
2020 Remote Sales at a Glance
Many companies have been selling remotely for years (or even decades). However, most companies have a corporate office for all their sales reps and managers to work from. That all changed this year when many offices were closed due to the pandemic.
According to Gartner Research Inc., 88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home this year. Furthermore, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post-COVID.
This seismic change presents several challenges for sales managers in three key areas: coaching, accountability, and lead intelligence.
How Sales Managers Successfully Coach Remote Teams
Sales managers/VPs have unique challenges when it comes to managing a newly remote team. Communication and feedback that was once collected and shared organically during daily interactions is no longer possible. Therefore, coaching and communication has to be a lot more intentional and purposeful.
Salespeople tend to be social by nature and remote work may present them with initial psychological challenges. A regular meeting cadence can keep these issues at bay. Since in-person meetings are not an option, focus on scheduling a few virtual meetings with sales reps each week. These should be short conversations where you can troubleshoot issues quickly and acknowledge progress and positive growth immediately.
Here are the types of meetings that sales managers should start scheduling (either weekly or monthly) with their remote team members:
- Group Coaching
- Individual Coaching
- Office Hours
- Sales Meeting
- Upper Management Updates
In HubSpot’s 2019 Remote Work Report, feelings of loneliness and lack of communication with co-workers were two of the main challenges faced by remote workers daily. Joining forces with your sales reps to combat these challenges should be a top priority for you as a sales manager.
Soon enough, you’ll start to feel a shift with your team as they become comfortable with their new surroundings and meeting cadence. Especially now that your sales team is working in several different zip codes (and perhaps in different time zones), connection and coaching will play a very important role in your company’s success.
How to Maintain Accountability Within Remote Sales Teams
The stigma that exists with remote work is that no one is actually working. After all, there’s no more popping into your rep’s office, seeing them take sales calls on their phone, or observing them work off their computer. So how can you be sure they’re doing their job from home?
First of all, forget the stigma. Gartner Research Inc. reported in 2020 that remote workers are 35-40% more productive than people who work in corporate offices. That means not only are remote workers doing their jobs, but they’re doing them more efficiently than their counterparts.
The key to harnessing this sales productivity is accountability.
The recipe for highly accountable sales teams includes several ingredients, including your culture, clear processes, and your sales data. In remote sales especially, your CRM plays a big role in each of these areas. Setting up your lead management framework correctly (with a balance of simplicity and structure) makes it easy for your salespeople to log their activity and allows you to track their performance consistently.
Specifically, here are some key remote sales metrics to track:
- Call volume measures the number of calls each rep handled during a specific timeframe.
- Closed-won deals per rep will help you understand how well your reps are performing to their quotas. When you compare the closed-won deals to call volume, it will show you how effectively their phone activity is bringing in sales.
- Revenue generated per rep is important because closing 10 small deals can sometimes bring in the same amount of revenue as closing one large deal. Focusing on the bottom line is the quickest and easiest way to measure performance and efficiency.
- Sales tools used per rep can measure which tools are used and most effective for your remote sales team. Access to the right tools and at the right points in the sales process will benefit your revenue greatly.
- Percentage of time spent on sales activities is key because you need to know if administrative tasks are taking up too much of your reps’ time. By highlighting inefficiencies and streamlining processes, you’ll free up time for reps to focus on selling.
In addition to tracking these metrics in your CRM, you should also plan regular meetings to discuss each metric in the following types of meetings:
- Team Performance Analysis
- Individual Performance Analysis
- Process Analysis
- Call Review
Tracking these metrics and discussing them in regular meetings will help keep your reps accountable and supply you with the information you need as a manager to make decisions.
How Lead Intelligence Helps Remote Sales Teams Sell More
Corporate sales teams can chat about leads to their fellow reps across the hall. Questions come up all the time, such as:
- “Did you work a similar lead last month?”
- “Do you know anyone that works for this company?”
- “Do you know why this lead was reassigned to me?”
Now that your team is remote, you need to have a sharper focus on lead intelligence. Sales reps are going to be relying on your CRM’s data 100 percent of the time. This data includes which web pages they've looked at, what forms they filled out, what offers they downloaded, and past interactions with representatives from your company (e.g. sales, support, trade shows, etc.). These data points compile the story that used to be shared over a cubicle wall or during a team meeting.
Stocking your CRM with all the necessary collaboration tools and lead intel data will empower your sales reps to be more independent and allow them to solve their problems faster than ever before.
Remote Sales Management Lessons Takeaway
Going from a bustling office to managing a remote sales team doesn’t have to upend your work or personal life. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, most people report an increase in job satisfaction while working remotely.
With the right coaching, heightened accountability, and a focus on lead intelligence, remote sales managers can optimize their time, increase revenue per sales rep, and enjoy high morale during this critical period and beyond.