How to successfully manage a remote sales team

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.

Encourage collaboration

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.

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