In 2020, many companies were forced to make the transition to remote selling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This can prove to be difficult for virtual sales teams that aren’t used to facilitating communications within purely digital environments. Jim Padilla, a sales expert and founder of Gain The Edge, put it best: “All of a sudden, the whole world has gone online.”
This is the point when companies really need to ask themselves how they are going to present their products or services to their prospects without having to meet them in person. As this transition selling remotely has occurred, many companies are beginning to realize that remote sale functions don’t only hold benefits for the salespeople but they also provide major advantages for those buying the service.
In this complete guide to managing a remote sales team, we’ll be sharing some best practices to help you manage, train, and equip your remote sales team to succeed. We will also offer some recommendations on how you can improve your end-to-end sales process and virtual sales team productivity within the virtual framework.
Benefits Of A Remote Sales Team
You might be wondering: how can you properly convey the value of a product/service virtually? And is it possible to provide sufficient information about the given product without hands-on support? Though there are definitely many gains from in-person communication, here are some of the main advantages of having a remote sales team:
1. Better experience for your buyer
What we’ve found to be the case among many potential buyers is that their primary focus is often solely on the final product. Therefore, your virtual sales team should initiate the sales process by providing plenty of information about the product. You can do this through a compelling report, relevant marketing materials, and appropriate case studies, all of which can be forwarded remotely.
On the implementation side, you can help your buyers understand and use the service by submitting a detailed instruction manual and even put them in touch with an online course or guide.
2. Reduce travel expenses
A remote sales system can reduce the sales operating expenses by as much as 50%. You don’t have to worry about your salespeople wasting both time and resources by traveling from place to place in pursuit of leads.
3. Book more meetings
By saving on travel costs, your virtual sales team would be available to take more meetings on any given day. Virtual sales teams have often been able to double or even triple their number of what we call Cloud consultations. Additionally, buyers are able to schedule these consultations on their own time without feeling like they’ve been backed into the corner by the salesperson. As a result, they’re more likely to book meetings with your company.
4. Track buyer behavior and engagement
Virtual meetings have the added benefit of tracking capabilities in that you can measure buyer behavior to an incredibly precise level through a variety of tools. By uploading documents on a landing page or by holding presentations over ClearSlide, you will be able to monitor their engagement and see whether the document is being shared with others.
Tools like gong.io help you listen to recorded conversations both in real-time and afterward. You can also develop word clouds to detect the FAQs and concerns posited by the buyer. Remote communications allow you to collect scientific evidence on the buyer’s engagement level, in turn creating a feedback loop for the marketing team.
5. Access to a global talent pool
It’s highly cost-effective to have remote sales team members located at various cities across the world. When you’re working remotely, you don’t have to worry about paying upwards of $60,000 to one employee just because they live in an expensive metropolitan like Silicon Valley or New York.
You have access to a wide range of global talent with each of the representatives bringing their own diverse perspectives into the mix. Previously, most employees would move to the bigger, more expensive cities for career opportunities, but recently we’ve observed that some of the best salespeople prefer to live in remote locations in any case. As a result, it’s a safe choice to offer virtual services to them.
Tips For Managing Remote Sales Teams
A reliable virtual sales team can significantly drive sales, provide customer support, and close leads. But you also have to follow a number of practices to ensure that your virtual sales team is equipped with the infrastructure and flexibility they need to carry out their responsibilities. These are some of the best practices when it comes to managing remote sales teams:
1. Set up a productive office environment at home
Marcus Chan of Venli Consulting recently imparted some advice about working remotely. He said, “every single day, make sure you’re preparing yourself to work — you’re not just rolling out of bed.”
It’s crucial that virtual sales team members are able to set up a professional and productive environment at home. Having access to solid audio equipment, a steady internet connection, good lighting, a disturbance-free workspace, would enable your salespeople to demonstrate their professionalism at all times. In terms of the WiFi, you can even choose to connect directly to the router for optimal speed. Standing desks are another way you can retain some sort of a productive atmosphere at home. Any measure or form of infrastructure that you know boosts productivity among your remote sales team is worth replicating at home.
2. Schedule frequent meetings for the virtual sales team
One of the biggest disadvantages of working remotely is not being able to have face-to-face interactions. Face-to-face interactions help you ascertain body language and the level of interest being shown by team members and prospects. That’s why it’s recommended that you increase the frequency of your team meetings or “huddles” when working remotely. You need to give yourself more time to check in on your team members. Our team, for example, has two huddles every day: 9:45 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. These virtual huddles allow us to share the work we’ve done throughout the day and discuss key metrics.
Make sure the conversations are data-backed and that your team is on the same page when it comes to your sales objectives. Make room for a weekly sales pipeline meeting for the entire remote sales team. We also advise that you have your sales manager set up a one-on-one meeting with a representative every 2 weeks, if not weekly.
3. Provide them with abundant data
Sales representatives require tons of support and data from their manager in order to properly excel in their duties. You want to make sure that your sales team has access to a steady stream of vetted, pre-qualified leads and their contact information. Be sure to have a capable data sourcing team in place that catches the qualified leads your sales reps can follow up with. Our lead management system has allowed us to have 3-4 times the industry average in terms of meetings booked per month.
4. Introduce funnel-based virtual tools
There is a wealth of resourceful tools available for remote sales processes. But before we touch upon those, it’s worth specifying the various resources you can introduce at each and every level of the sales funnel. Your remote sales team should be able to identify all the strategies involved in the pipeline as well as the materials needed to execute them. For example, you want to disseminate information through webinars and similar workshops at the top of the funnel. The middle of the funnel can feature training sessions, cloud consultations, and even individual education sessions. The bottom of the funnel can be reserved for customer reference calls, case studies, and more opportunities for training and pilot programs.
5. Give feedback on calls
It’s incredibly important to keep an eye on your remote sales team’s outreach performance. That’s why it’s advised that you keep track of cover views and listen to calls with your representatives. Your feedback is instrumental in their success. Moreover, you should categorize your feedback based on a call rubric that would outline subjective metrics like their opening, their value proposition, their way of requesting meetings, their handling of objections, amongst others. There’s a clear-cut process in which you can measurably evaluate their performance. You should also set up employee development meetings periodically; this is where you can have detailed conversations with them about their objectives, their growth plan, and whether or not they are getting support from you.
Onboarding Remote Sales Reps
Oftentimes, it can prove to be more challenging to welcome new employees into the remote sale model rather than transition existing employees into the virtual system. A structured and effective onboarding process sets the tone for a solid, reliable long-term relationship. On the contrary, if your new representatives have a choppy onboarding experience, then the long-term relationship can mirror that as well. Therefore, it’s essential that you take note of a few tips on developing your onboarding program.
1. Begin early
You want to have employment agreements and other formal procedures done and taken care of prior to the onboarding process, so there are no surprises or interruptions during onboarding. Your employees should get a warm reception when they begin. They should also be provided with a clear schedule that lists learning activities, quizzes, assignments, and even the mentor that’s going to be guiding them.
2. Set up an automated system
While onboarding in a digital set-up is vastly different than that in a traditional office environment, your employees should still be able to experience the most imperative facets of the onboarding process. You want to build an automated process where your employees can view learning objectives and tasks. You should also arrange a schedule outlining all the various meetings that are to be attended by your new reps as well as their respective speaking points.
A well-documented system is instrumental in forging positive relationships among both existing and new team members. Pick a mentor who can answer questions and address concerns comfortable. Consider organizing onboarding in pairs — this helps establish an inclusive atmosphere in which both participants can learn from and challenge each other.
Tools & Software For Selling Remotely
If you want to master the digital sales structure, you have to learn how you can leverage the various tools available in the market. Identifying software that is most suitable for your team’s style of communication and collaboration is a tall order; therefore, you should select programs that facilitate a range of tasks within one single platform.
Due to the lack of physical interaction, your team is in greater danger of demotivation and miscommunication. Employee engagement may also take a hit as a result of remote communications.
That’s why you have to find technology that actively promotes cooperation, commitment, and transparency amongst your remote sales team members, and enables them to optimize their productivity in accordance to each funnel of the sales process. The right tools will also allow you to collect data analytics in terms of team performance, sales strategy, and goal-building.
Here are some helpful tools you should introduce to your team from the get-go:
This all-in-one platform is a popular platform for sales and marketing departments as it encompasses a broad range of functions and resources. From generating comprehensive reporting and data analytics to providing an excellent CRM software, Hubspot delivers some fundamental sales management tools. It’s also a superb one-on-one solution as it lets you view proposal activity, measure online activity based on context, craft email sequences, and conduct lead to revenue tracking.
After you’ve settled on a central software, you can begin sorting through other programs that offer specific implementations. Gong.io’s proprietary program ClearSlide has meeting recording functions that can be used for both planned and impromptu calls. It monitors engagement levels over time, so you can attune your strategy based on the visual and conversational data.
This software’s integrated workspace is the perfect channel for effective communication and file-sharing among remote sales team members. It is also a tremendous tool for team collaboration, project management, and for automating and standardizing tasks that are otherwise time-consuming.
XANT is a readymade, AI-oriented solution for companies looking to upgrade their customer outreach operations. Their extensive “playbooks” offer the optimal sequencing of calls and emails, and even prepare insights into how best to communicate with your prospects. It’s also a convenient way to keep track of your remote team’s progress as they speak with potential customers and buyers.
This top-of-the-line CRM software is a solid alternative to Hubspot. From compiling data insights to retrieving valuable information about customers, this consolidated program will foster team communication, generate accountability, and improve time management. They also have a Mobile app that lets you monitor your team’s progress while on the go.
Productivity Tips For Remote Sales Reps
Many sales leaders are apprehensive about remote work due to their concerns over team productivity. It’s undeniably difficult to evaluate your team’s rate of productivity when they’re working from afar. Thus, the onus falls on you as a manager to enforce a number of measures that not only retain productivity amidst these difficult times but empower your team to set higher standards for productivity and goal-setting. These are some ways in which you can motivate your team to improve their productivity:
1. Equip them with necessary infrastructure
Seeing that your sales representatives will be working remotely, you want them to be focused on the tasks at hand and not be bothered by technical difficulties or domestic interruptions. You should hire employees based on whether they are capable of carrying out their responsibilities in a professional manner. Ensure that they have a closed door in their room. Equip them with high-quality computers or laptops, and even throw in noise-cancelling headphones to help them immerse themselves in the work.
2. Schedule physical meetings if possible
If it’s safe and physically distanced, you might want to consider asking your team members to come into the office a few days a week. These face-to-face meetings keep your company culture intact and ensure your team members feel like they’re being supported by management. These get-togethers also function as structural resets for your employees — they can go back home and dive back into work with a renewed sense of productivity.
3. Organize coaching sessions
As a sales manager, it’s paramount that you arrange multiple coaching sessions for your team members. Whether it’s geared towards sales initiatives, work-life balance, or general mental wellbeing, these sessions will go a long way in assisting your employees with various blockers. For example, think about inviting a meditation coach to come in and guide your team members through soothing breathing exercises. Design an extensive health and benefits program that encourages your employees to seek out personal development services. This can include any activity that can help them succeed in their current role.
4. Make room for virtual meet-ups
This piece of advice cannot be understated. The lack of physical interactions can weigh down your team’s ability to communicate effectively. Therefore, make space for plenty of virtual meetings throughout the day. These meetings don’t just have to focus on work-related issues, either. It’s a good idea to have your employees bond via non-work-related topics, like current events, sports, and more. Sometimes you might consider “having lunch” together where all your team members get their lunch, hop on a Zoom session, and just chat with each other like any other lunch hour. Learning more about your sales representatives’ personal goals is necessary if you want to motivate them further.
5. Get their feedback
One of the best ways in which you can maintain and increase your team’s productivity is by simply asking them. Applications like Office By aid in those efforts by sending out prescreened behavioural messages to employees where they can respond with feedback. You want to give them opportunities to speak up and make their voices heard. You want to receive input on what you can be doing better in terms of managing their projects and promoting company culture.
Next, you can design an organization chart that outlines each member’s duties and who they report to; this builds a sense of accountability for the whole team. You should also make certain that your HR department is competent enough to listen to and address employee concerns. We also like to use an application called Bonusly, which is a way for management to reward your team members with bonus points. They can redeem those bonus points for gift cards, cash, or time off.
Sales Pipeline Metrics To Focus On
A well-built sales force constantly examines emerging trends and adjusts its plan of attack accordingly. If you want to fill your sales pipeline with active leads, it’s necessary to look at data analytics and determine your next steps. There are some key metrics that you need to discuss during your weekly meeting:
1. Deals Needing Attention (DNA)
This is a primary metric you should be following closely on a weekly basis. The DNA report refers to deals that have gone a week or two without any changes or activity. This report will allow you to customize your approach to the deal in question and focus on nurturing it through the funnel.
2. Weighted Sales Forecast (WSF)
This refers to the overall shape of your pipeline. You want to be aware of the ongoing leads and strategies, the revenue projected for each and every lead in the funnel, the general health of the pipeline, what is progressing quickly, what is not progressing at all, and so on and so forth. You also want to develop approximately closing dates for certain deals.
4. Funnel Conversion Rates & KPIs
These KPIs may be familiar but they still need to be reviewed frequently. You want extensive data on how quickly items in your sales funnel are moving forward. You want numbers on connect calls, conversion rates, meaningful interactions, and booked meetings based on meaningful interactions.
From an account executive standpoint, you want to look at win rate percentages, sales cycle timelines, lead sources, common objections, average deal sizes, and quarterly metrics. It’s essential that you follow not only the activities that take place within any given week but also the number of activities required to close deals.
Building A Highly Profitable Remote Sales Team
It’s no surprise that a handful of companies are having a difficult time in adopting the digital model for their sales development. If sales representatives are only used to conducting their operations face-to-face, then it’s undoubtedly going to be a rocky transition. In all likelihood, however, remote selling is here to stay, so you are going to have to begin embracing its assets sooner rather than later.
Given the remarkable array of technologies available for the purpose of remote sales development, you might be at a distinct disadvantage if you choose not to leverage these tools. These virtual resources take care of nearly every element in the end-to-end sales structure, from the sequencing of outreach methods to fostering team collaboration to measuring specific and general insights about buyer behaviour.
If you want your company to develop long-term customer relationships and increase revenue, it’s best to jump onboard and take advantage of the remote sale environment. While face-to-face communications go a long way in building a rapport between buyers and sellers, it’s worth taking inventory of the numerous perks of the virtual business and incorporating its innovations into your model.