How to Increase your Remote Sales Team’s Productivity
In the United States, 4.7 million employees (3.4% of the workforce) work from home (WFH) at least half the week. Over the past month, that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Luckily, 99% of people who are in a remote job would choose to continue doing so for the rest of their careers if given the opportunity. According to a study, remote employees are more likely to feel happy and satisfied with their job.
Not only does remote work encourage a healthy work-life balance for employees and eliminate commute time, but it can also reduce overhead costs for the business and help to attract global talent.
Most full-time remote workers are contractors or freelancers, and stereo-typically, introverted. How would an extroverted sales professional with little to no experience working from their home office fare making dials and taking client meetings in their pajamas? Utilizing a remote workforce requires careful planning and investment, putting their team members and the business in a prime position to succeed.
For sales teams specifically, remote work often presents a unique set of challenges. These teams are often built on camaraderie and competition, which is difficult to manufacture remotely – but not impossible. The quick shift in workspace might find some newly remote sales teams at a disadvantage without their regular access to office supplies such as printers or scanners. Luckily, there is a growing list of companies offering free or heavily discounted resources for this new remote workforce.
PandaDoc has recently launched a Free eSign plan that offers remote sales teams the ability to e-sign and close deals without added expenses. To ensure that your sales reps work at peak capacity while practicing social distancing, focus on actionable ways to boost productivity no matter where they call home. We’ve got seven ways to make this happen.
Lead your team to empowerment
Given the uncertainty around how much longer companies will advise their employees to work from home, sales managers should aim to cultivate trusting relationships with their direct reports and lead them in such a way that promotes success within a remote environment.
This is the perfect opportunity for your team to evaluate their current time management, communication, and organizational skills and determine which areas need improvement. Though your team will continue to look to you for guidance, it is critical during this time that you encourage your reps to be self-directed, motivate themselves, and make sure they reach their goals each day, week, and month — without micromanagement.
Encourage collaboration via apps
It’s easier than ever to facilitate collaboration, remote or otherwise. With thousands of project management apps and platforms with multiple functions to choose from, it isn’t too difficult to provide your team with the right tools they’ll need to work together effectively from home.
Platforms like Cyfe.com (an all-in-one business platform with customizable widgets for sales, CRM, social media, marketing, and everything else), Trello.com (a project management platform where you can track the progress of any individual idea), and even simple tools like IDoneThis.com (where you list your daily to-dos and check off when you’ve done them) help everyone stay on the same page.
Communicate purpose to your team
The key to unlocking the power of collaboration isn’t just letting your sales reps loose in the same digital playgrounds. To reap the benefits of flexible work, you’ll need to explain the underlying purpose behind their regular goals and set clear expectations.
What reasons do your sales reps have to perform well? If it’s just money, that’s going to hurt you in the long run — workers will increasingly need larger and larger bonuses and/or salaries to incentivize them to work. But if you can get your sales team to buy into a larger mission, or make a game out of their collaboration, you’ll find more success.
Purpose is the key to productive collaboration — not money, micromanagement, or threats to job security. It will be a difficult time for many businesses to stay afloat, make it abundantly clear to your sales team the importance and value of their work to your organization.
Use chat tools consistently
You’ll find that the frequent interruptions and in-office, side-conversations that used to annoy you and your team are a welcome interaction while working from home. Using chat tools like Slack.com allows your team to keep in touch throughout the day. Not only can they upload files, share documents, and facilitate deals, but they can also use it to communicate about how they’re adjusting to the new normal.
Chat tools like these keep people connected, help them feel as though they’re still part of the team and most importantly, that they’re not going through this time of uncertainty alone. You may not have a shared water cooler to gather around, but you can still gather in a designated channel to make each other laugh, share memes, and updates on how you’re doing.
Video conference regularly
As fun and effective as chat tools can be, so much of our communication is non-verbal, based on body language and facial expressions. Speaking face-to-face, via Zoom, for example, results in clearer communication, closer connection, and fewer misunderstandings. Schedule regular (weekly is best) video call check-ins with your team in both groups and 1:1 settings.
For your direct reports who live alone or are currently in self-quarantine, these video chats may be the only face-to-face communication they get all day. Prioritizing these “dates” and blocking enough time to accommodate friendly conversation in addition to covering business items will mean a lot to both you and your employees.
Maintain your commitment to training and improvement
Training doesn’t end when your sales reps finish their virtual-onboarding or feel comfortable using all their tools. You should continue to provide sales training in the newest tools, applications, practices, and techniques to employees even while working from home.
Take things one step further by offering free training and resources on best remote work practices, mindfulness, and other subjects that will help your sales team to cope with long periods of isolation and limited interaction.
Employees who feel that their company is invested in them and their growth as professionals will similarly invest themselves in the business. The time and resources you invest in your remote employees will repay in dividends.
As much as a sales team needs to work together, it’s true that an important tenet of the position is to compete. Those who make the most sales typically make the most money, which is both a monetary incentive and an incentive in the form of bragging rights.
Use a performance or gamification dashboard that remote workers can check anytime to promote healthy, informed competition among sales reps. They can take it upon themselves to further the stakes and increase the competition with low-stakes bets from home, like “loser records themselves doing 20 push-ups and posts to #breakroom Slack channel.” Give your sales team the right tools they need to compete and let them run with it and have fun.
The final word
Despite what you might think, out of all the teams to build as remote entities, sales is perhaps one of the easiest. So much of what they do — from calls to deals — is recorded in their sales management and customer relationship management tools.
Make sure you’re providing your remote team the tools and skills they need to be successful, as well as an empathetic ear during this high-stress, low-interaction time. After that, it’s up to you to trust the people you hired and let them continue to crush their sales goals.