For many, adjusting to working remotely has been a huge challenge. Not being around your colleagues, attempting to stay productive, and finding a schedule that works for you are just a few of the challenges many people face. How has it already been months since most of us have seen our offices or returned to any other normal day-to-day activities?
77% of remote employees say they're more productive when working from home. However, according a recent study by the Revenue Enablement Institute, sales team productivity has dropped by 20% since the beginning of the pandemic.
98% of sales executives are still adapting to their new reality. Managing a remote sales team is a new challenge for sales managers, as if managing a team wasn’t challenging enough before.
There is no rulebook for managing a remote sales team, but here are 4 tips that will help increase your team's productivity and motivation:
- Setting Boundaries
- Prioritizing Communication
- Setting and Tracking Goals
- Celebrating Success
Your work life and your personal life used to be completely separate things. In today's world, this line is often blurred. With smartphones and the continuous improvements in technology, your work and personal life are most likely very intertwined, especially if you work in sales. In fact, ⅓ of salespeople say they have no work-life balance at all.
More and more salespeople are becoming burned out since the pandemic hit, and many are just trying to adjust to working remotely. They are becoming restless because they don't have boundaries to separate their time between work and home life. 22% of remote employees report that unplugging after work is their biggest challenge (Buffer). You need to set boundaries to have the right balance for you.
Everyone's boundaries look different. You can help your reps set boundaries to separate their workday vs. personal time by setting times of the day for "work time" and "me time." Start clearly scheduling your workday and offering to help your reps do the same. Make tasks to complete, put blocks on your calendar, set reminders, whatever you need to do to stay focused on work, and not get distracted.
For example, if your work schedule is set to 9-5, avoid doing non-work activities during this time. Avoid things like checking personal social media, taking personal calls, or running errands. Follow your work agenda. On the flip side, start turning your laptop off after your work period is complete. Turn off notifications for your work email on your smartphone when it's time to unwind. This is when you can run errands, surf social media, or whatever you do during your personal time.
You should be in contact with your team every single day. Whether you shoot them a text or an email or communicate through other apps/tools, you need to be on the same page as your team to be successful with working remotely. For example, at LeadIQ, we use Slack for staying in continuous day to day communication with our teammates. We use Zoom for more interactive meetings or brainstorming sessions with our team, as well as for external meetings.
As a sales manager, you should be in daily/weekly communication about your reps productivity. Things you should be staying up to date with your team about include asking about new opportunities in the pipeline, closing opportunities, other progress/concerns, and asking how you can support them. These questions will provide insight into your rep's progress and also helps get the rep thinking about future tasks. You will be able to get intel on your team’s performance improvements - or lack thereof. This keeps you on top of your team's pipeline and allows you to identify your top and bottom performers, as well as giving you some insight into why that may be.
It is imperative to be supportive of your team. Be direct when asking what your sales reps need and deliver. Working remotely isn’t easy; it takes the team working together to be successful.
Make Time for One-on-Ones
One-on-ones can be a manager's most powerful tool when they are executed effectively. Every one-on-one you hold with each member of your sales team will be different. The most effective way to boost team morale is by providing the appropriate training and support for each individual. Ensure you are catering to your rep's needs rather than your own or what you believe their needs may be.
It can be helpful to come up with an agenda before your one-on-one to make sure you stay on track and get answers to all the important questions. Your one-on-ones are all about communication. Be supportive. Discover what they’re struggling with and be there to offer support.
Set and Track Goals
Sales activity metrics are essential as they showcase the team's performance and behavior. Setting weekly and monthly expectations for these numbers is crucial for your bottom line and locating areas where your reps lack and could use improvements.
William Oleksienko, Head of Sales Development at Reply.io, recommends focusing on just 1-2 of the most relevant goals when running a remote sales team. For example, only report on the number of calls and demos booked every week. This still provides managers enough visibility into the progress without overwhelming the team.
"You can complete sales activities without getting any results, but you can't get results without doing activities."
You have to make sure that your sales team is properly tackling the right tasks every day. Here's a recent blog post written by Darryl Praill, CEO of VanillaSoft, if you want to learn more about what exactly you should be tracking.
When working remotely, managers often forget the value of recognition. A simple "good job" can go a long way. Start praising your team when they hit their goals, and sharing/celebrating wins. At LeadIQ, we have a “wins” channel in slack where we’re constantly celebrating deals closed by our reps, as well as other channels to celebrate other accomplishments. We also celebrate success through one-on-ones or stand-ups, as well as our monthly all-hands meetings.
Celebrating success not only improves company morale, but it also affects your employee’s confidence on an individual level. Sales reps need to have confidence in themselves, which translates to confidence in their prospecting. Managers often don't realize they've left remote workers hanging. Positive feedback builds amazing team spirit and confidence.
There is no set rulebook for managing a remote sales team. The world is a crazy place right now and a huge adjustment for everyone. Your sales reps need support, guidance, and motivation now more than ever.
Hopefully, these four tips will help you manage your remote sales team. Get personal, stay on schedule, track your activities, and, most importantly, be there for one another. The most successful sales teams rely on each other.