Sales is a personal job. Sales representatives typically know their clients’ names, pets’ names, and where their kids go to college, as well as the last five years of their order specifics. So when a sales team goes remote, it can be frustrating to watch those dynamics change. Not only do sales reps have to adjust the way they communicate with their customers, but they must also navigate a change in their own work environment.
During a shift to a remote workplace, sales leaders must adapt to accommodate their team’s changing needs to keep everyone on track, ensure team engagement, and overall employee well-being.
Tips to Train Remote Sales Teams
We want to make the following tips easy to adopt into your current leadership process. So we're going to break them down into three manageable challenges that will help guide you as you transition to a remote environment.
Challenge: Maintaining Communication
When face-to-face meetings are no longer an option, communication becomes even more essential to keeping every member of the sales team on the same page. Sales leaders should plan ahead and frequently communicate with their sales teams, just as they would in person. Here are some actionable tips to help your communication strategy.
1. Set clear expectations
Your team should know what is expected of them at all times. A Gallup survey found that when employers set priorities they increase employee engagement by 38%.
This can be a challenge when you cannot physically show benchmarks or goals, but services and tools such as Hubspot can help. Make it an effort to routinely go over sales objectives and progress on leads or deals. Detailed reports to employees on specific tasks and desired performance goals are also helpful.
Need help transitioning your sales team to Hubspot? Learn How to Get Your Sales Team to Use the Hubspot CRM
2. Host regular virtual meetings
As a sales leader, it’s crucial to conduct regular meetings with your team to keep everyone on the same page. These meetings are also an important opportunity for your sales reps to collaborate with new strategies and share updates with each other.
Luckily, technology makes this easy, even in the remote world. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting are all designed with businesses in mind. Most of these platforms let you schedule recurring meetings making it easy to establish a routine.
3. Focus beyond the results
While it’s important to keep everyone on track, regular check-ins are necessary beyond simply ensuring targets are met. Sales leaders should make sure to touch base with all team members—including those with high results who appear self-sufficient.
Communication also shouldn’t be limited to formal meetings. Casual communication is essential in combating feelings of isolation and building rapport at a distance.
Challenge: Building Rapport
This brings us to our next challenge as a sales leader, finding a way to build that rapport and keep your team personally connected even while apart. These tips will point you in the right direction.
4. Schedule time for team building
Because sales reps are inherently social individuals, remote work can feel incredibly isolating. By making team building a priority, you’ll help keep everyone’s energy high and foster a positive work environment that everyone wants to be apart of.
Team building might look a bit different in the remote world, but it’s still possible to keep everyone engaged and having fun. Consider some of these virtual team building games or activities. Or you could keep it simple, by doing a virtual Zoom happy hour, “coffee break," or “Friday Breakfast” - something our team at DMG does. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s focused on the team and their needs and not the company’s objectives.
5. Encourage team collaboration
By nature, sales professionals are very competitive people. But too much internal competition can create a toxic environment, and this can sometimes be accelerated when teams go remote, and collaboration becomes more difficult.
As a manager, you should make it a point to encourage team collaboration as a crucial strategy for success. Start by creating a culture of sharing best practices. Each member of your team has different strengths and methods of doing things. Make it known who is the expert on what and who team members can turn to if they need help in a specific area.
In team meetings, have reps share what’s working and what’s not working for them. Everyone on your team can learn something from someone, so open up the conversation and create the need to collaborate.
6. Celebrate and reward success
Encouragement as a whole will help team members feel closer to each other, and also inspire them to work harder. When sales leaders vocalize individuals’ contributions and successes within the organization, they provide everyone with the opportunity to be seen and celebrated. In fact, a study done by Gallup revealed that teams with strength-based management practices had 12.5% greater productivity.
There are so many different ways to reward success, but here are a few ideas to get started.
- Give teamwide shoutouts when deals are closed
- Highlight successes in sales meetings
- Give gift cards as a reward for a big accomplishment
- Come up with unique awards for each team member, and hold a “virtual” awards ceremony
Challenge: Supporting Employee Wellbeing
When managing a remote team, it’s important not to get too caught up in the group as a whole, and remember each employee’s needs as an individual. The experience of isolation and the blurring of lines between the work-life balance are both big risks when employees go remote. By being mindful of these struggles, and frequently checking in on your team members individually, you can avoid this type of burnout. Here are some actionable ways to help support your employees and their wellbeing.
7. Establish boundaries between work and personal time
When your office is your home, it can be tempting to continue working after hours, and let that work/personal life divide become a bit fuzzy. The feeling of “always being on the clock” can lead to higher stress levels for your team, and ultimately employee burnout.
By being a leader and encouraging your staff to set those clear boundaries, you’ll help your employees take the time they need to refresh and recharge.
8. Encourage breaks
When you’re working alone at your home, without colleagues to chat with or other office interruptions, it can be easy to sit and work for 8 hours straight without a break. Just as employees need a break each night, they also need small breaks throughout the day to keep productivity high.
One way to encourage team breaks is to set up a system that lets teammates know when everyone is taking a break. Have reps mark off their lunch break on their calendar or have them change their status on chat. This will keep everyone in the know, and also mental and physical wellbeing high.
9. Monitor mental wellbeing of employees
Finally, being mindful of the signs of employee burnout and knowing what to look out for can help maintain employee happiness.
Keep in mind that not everyone on your team will be comfortable talking about issues or struggles they might be having. Think about implementing anonymous employee surveys with targeted questions towards stress levels and anxiety. This can help you keep tabs on your team and give you an idea of when you might need to intervene.
Next Step: Manage These Challenges
A remote workplace should not mean a disconnected workplace. As naturally social individuals, sales leaders and their teams can apply familiar skills to new circumstances. Finding innovative ways to stay in touch can go a long way in maintaining strong relationships and staying engaged and productive.
By tracking metrics, communicating clearly and frequently, and finding new ways to build rapport within their team, sales leaders can support a cohesive and productive work environment, no matter how distant. A smooth transition into a fully remote B2B sales team won’t happen all at once, but through patience, perseverance, and communication, new routines will fall into place, and everyone can continue to grow and develop within the team.