How to Manage a Suddenly Remote Sales Team
By Maddy Osman on Mar 18, 2020
A lot of managers worry about productivity when making the transition from in-office teams to remote work situations. There is a nagging concern employees are going to be goofing around rather than focusing on work.
As more employees are working from home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, sales managers have been forced to rapidly adjust to operating remote sales teams. Though the challenges are myriad (especially if your company was totally unprepared to make the change), the Coronavirus is opening many managers’ eyes to the possibilities that a remote team offers.
To make the shift, managers may need to adopt different systems and tools to keep their teams running smoothly. By having the right communication systems in place and the right tools for engaging your employees, you can set up your newly remote sales team for success.
Creating Channels of Remote Work Communication
Communication is vital and fundamental to managing your remote team. Without clear paths of communication, you run the risk of projects falling through the cracks and significantly decreasing productivity.
The first step is creating dedicated channels of communication. Using a tool like Slack, set up channels for different purposes, such as regular office chatter, collaboration on assignments, and virtual meetings. Additional considerations for your remote work tool stack should include options like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Gong.
Having a separate channel for socializing and connecting with teammates is essential, especially as your team members adjust to a remote working environment due to Coronavirus. You want this virtual watercooler to help your company culture retain some semblance of normalcy.
Establishing various channels of communication is only half the battle. You need to simultaneously establish clear guidelines about how to communicate with them and what your expectations are regarding response times and so on.
In the process of rapidly rolling out reliable remote communication systems, don’t lose sight of the purpose behind it all: to save time and boost productivity.
These goals can be quickly undermined if employees feel like they are always “on” now, or required to be available for whatever chats are coming at them. It’s important to remind your team members that they shouldn’t allow communication channels to become so disruptive that they prevent team members from meeting core company goals or destroy their work-life balance.
How to Communicate with Your Remote Team
When managing remote workers, it’s vital to remember to be regularly communicating with active team members.
A study by Gallup discovered that employees were most engaged when their managers returned their messages or calls within 24 hours. Additionally, those employees who were most engaged communicated with their managers daily in one way or another.
This level of communication happens very naturally in an office space. However, when adjusting to working with a remote sales team, it’s essential to go the extra mile to ensure that you’re spending time briefly checking in on each employee to see how they are doing.
This can be everything from following up on projects with regular, scheduled meetings to simply seeing how they’re adjusting to working remotely due to the Coronavirus.
Ensuring Productivity While Your Team is at Home
Productivity and accountability are the two core tenets of a successful sales team — whether they’re working in the office or remote. The amount of hours your employees put in is less important than what they accomplish during those hours. Providing clear goals, effective tools and frequent communication will help ensure your team is operating efficiently wherever they are working.
The best way forward is to manage based on medium to larger objectives. Micromanaging is not effective in an office — and it’s impossible to do when it comes to remote teams. You’re best off assigning medium to large tasks to members of your sales team, then giving them the tools to take care of the details.
Giving your sales team the right tools to boost their productivity where they spend the most time will get you the results you are looking for. By utilizing the suite of productivity tools offered by Cirrus Insight, you provide them with the best chance of staying on top of everything while working remotely.
Cirrus Insight helps your sales team track when customers open emails, schedule email follow ups, and even efficiently include availability for in-person meetings in emails. Additionally, you can set follow-up reminders to ensure that sales representatives aren’t missing any opportunities to nurture leads or secure a sale.
Measuring Progress With Your Remote Team
It’s important to be able to measure progress without interrupting the work being done by your sales team. For skilled managers, this is very natural during the workday. However, when switching to a remote team, it can require more of your attention.
Failing to check-in with your team members (especially those working remotely) can leave them feeling unimportant and isolated. This can lead to them lagging behind on deadlines and ultimately failing to meet company goals.
The first step to measuring your sales team’s progress is to establish clear goals for the entire team, as well as individuals. If it starts to look like team members are slipping too far behind, it can make a huge difference to reach out before this becomes a habit.
You can keep track of your sales team’s goals via online Salesforce dashboards and Cirrus Insight’s analytics and email side panel. By analyzing key productivity metrics, as well as specific sales goals, you can stay on top of how your team is doing without making anyone feel micromanaged.
Incentivizing Creativity in Dealing with a Crisis
Sudden changes in the workplace are hard. It can be difficult to get your team to switch workflow management tools, let alone flee the office to work remotely. It takes a lot more effort to recognize and incentivize your workforce when they are working remotely.
But, recognition and rewards not only make your team members feel appreciated — they are also known to increase productivity and company loyalty. This can be as simple (and cheap) as a big “thank you”.
A little can go a very long way when you’re dealing with remote teams.
Other Notable Benefits of a Remote Sales Team
Though Coronavirus might have forced your hand toward creating remote teams, there are a number of significant benefits
to working remotely that are unrelated to avoiding the disease.
First and foremost, remote teams are cheaper to run. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll start to notice savings in office-related expenses. It’s also cheaper for your employees who now don’t have to spend money on gas commuting to work or buying lunch out.
Many studies point toward increased productivity and creativity when workers are allowed more flexibility with their hours while working from home.
According to a study done by Connect Solutions, 77% of remote workers said they were more productive than when they were working in the office. Additionally, 30% said that they were able to get more done in less time.
Final Thoughts: Coronavirus Forces Companies to Manage Remote Teams
Without a doubt, the Coronavirus is putting new pressure on sales teams as they scramble to work remotely. However, savvy managers are seizing this potential crisis as an opportunity to roll out new, more productive systems.
By establishing channels of communication and guidelines for their use, you can decrease the likelihood of team members feeling isolated (or quarantined) while working from home. You can also facilitate increased productivity and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
With those systems in place, all you have to do is track and monitor progress with a powerful tool such as Cirrus Insight.
Cirrus Insight automatically syncs all relevant sales data — email exchanges and appointment setting via calendar with leads, even opportunities and cases — into Salesforce. From there, everyone on the team is able to measure progress and jump in to move deals forward where necessary. The insights gained through analyzing key metrics will allow you to manage and guide your sales team as they navigate the new challenges of working remotely.
Start a free trial for Cirrus Insight today, and keep your sales team productive — and healthy!