Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote work has grown tremendously. Today, millions of employees work remotely, and experts predict that the number of remote workers will continue to grow and reach 36 million by 2025 in the U.S. alone.
Some professions are more likely to embrace remote work than others, and sales is one of them. Sales professionals can complete all their work from home or anywhere in the world—as long as their managers know how to manage remote teams effectively.
In this guide, we’ll cover some strategies for effectively managing your remote sales team, including tools and techniques you should use.
The challenges of managing a remote sales team
While operating a remote sales team can be very rewarding, it also comes with certain challenges, including:
- Communication barriers
- Trouble building and maintaining a strong team culture
- Ensuring accountability and performance tracking
- Developing remote selling skills (which are different from in-person selling skills)
To keep your remote sales team performing optimally, you’ll have to address these and other challenges that may arise.
Setting up your remote sales team for success
The best way to get ahead of these challenges is to set your remote sales team up for success from the start. Getting hiring and onboarding right will help ensure your remote team is in the best possible position to succeed.
Hiring the right talent
The ideal traits to look for in a remote salesperson may be slightly different from the traits you’d want an in-person salesperson to have. You’ll still need these candidates to be highly organized, effective problem-solvers, and great communicators, of course, but keep an eye out for these traits of strong remote workers:
- Technologically savvy
- Honest and accountable
You can determine whether candidates have these essential traits during your interview. For instance, you might ask: How do you stay up to date with technological changes in the industry? How would you change direction in the middle of a project if necessary? Both questions will help you identify these traits.
Onboarding and training
Though often overlooked, onboarding and training are two of the most essential processes in any business. Better onboarding improves employee retention, performance, and engagement.
You’ll need to adapt your traditional onboarding and training process for your remote sales team members to get them off to a fast start. Technology plays a key role in remote employee onboarding, so take advantage of the available tools and software. Oyster’s global employment platform, for example, helps make the digital hiring and onboarding process as smooth as possible.
Tools and technology for remote sales team management
When operating any remote team, especially a virtual sales team, you’ll have to rely on a variety of tools and technology to get the job done. Here are some of the tools you may need:
- Communication tools: Instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management platforms
- Sales enablement tools: CRM, sales automation, and content management solutions
- Performance tracking and analytics tools: Dashboards, reporting, and data visualization software
In addition to these tools, consider using global payroll software to ensure that your teams get paid compliantly and on time within their country. Make sure the global payroll solution you use also enables you to make ad hoc payments, like performance bonuses, to your sales team members.
Establishing effective communication practices
Communication is key to keeping any remote team organized, especially a remote sales team. If you don’t establish effective communication practices with your team members, their performance is sure to falter. Try these methods for keeping the lines of communication open among your team:
- Schedule regular check-ins and team meetings: Don’t wait for someone to schedule a meeting on a particular topic. Build regular check-ins and team meetings into your schedule so team members have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns.
- Encourage open communication and feedback channels: It’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure that all team members feel comfortable contributing to conversations. Encourage your remote sales team members to communicate openly and take advantage of the available feedback channels.
- Balance synchronous and asynchronous communication: With remote work, you need to strike a balance between synchronous communication (like video and phone calls) and asynchronous communication (like messaging and email). Don’t choose one or the other—find ways to incorporate both. Asynchronous communication methods are especially important when you have remote team members across multiple time zones.
Building and maintaining a strong team culture
Company or team culture can often be an afterthought, especially with remote teams, but it’s something you shouldn’t overlook. A strong team culture will make your team members more productive, content, and confident in their work.
Build and maintain a strong culture with your remote sales team by defining and communicating your company values and vision. Let your team members know what your company stands for and what it means to be a part of the team.
Then work on fostering collaboration and teamwork with all your remote workers. Without spending time together in person, it’s difficult to build those bonds between team members. Go out of your way to organize opportunities for them to collaborate and build strong working relationships.
One way to do that is by organizing virtual team-building activities and social events. Beyond your work activities, make time for more fun bonding opportunities for your team. Digital happy hours are popular, for example, but any activity can work as long as you get your team involved together.
Monitoring performance and ensuring accountability
When your team members are all in different places, it’s more difficult to make sure they’re completing their work consistently and effectively. Managers of remote sales teams need to take additional steps to monitor performance and ensure accountability.
Part of this is setting clear expectations and KPIs. Let your team know in concrete terms what you expect from them. Then, during regular performance reviews and feedback sessions, check in with each virtual sales representative to discuss how well they’re meeting those expectations.
Some team members will inevitably perform better than others. Recognize and reward top performers to motivate everyone to improve their own performance.
Tips for motivating and engaging your remote sales team
Managers may struggle to keep their remote sales teams motivated and engaged in their work. Some actions you can take to remedy this include:
- Providing ongoing learning and development opportunities: There’s always something new to learn, and your whole team will benefit if you offer them ongoing learning and development opportunities so they can grow.
- Offering flexible work arrangements and supporting work-life balance: The majority of employees say that work-life balance is very important to them. Remote team leaders should support this balance and offer flexible work arrangements whenever possible to keep team members happy and engaged.
- Celebrating team wins and acknowledging individual achievements: Leaders don’t have to choose between celebrating the team as a whole and acknowledging the accomplishments of individual team members. Do both so that everyone knows you value their efforts.
Building a world-class sales team
Embrace the future of remote work in sales, and continuously adapt and improve your remote sales team management strategies. If you use the right techniques and tools, like a global employment platform, your remote sales team will be on the path to success.
Try Oyster’s global employment platform today to start building a world-class remote sales team.