Numerous research studies provide evidence that employees are more productive when working remotely. Sales teams are target-driven, so they’re going to find the motivation they need to be productive! However, managing a remote team isn’t easy. Here's advice from our experts, some who have managed remote teams since 1983!
While they may share different points-of-view, they also agree in a lot of ways to successfully manage a remote team. In fact, many of them share similar pieces of advice:
- Schedule Regular Team Meetings—It’s critical that you make time to create personal interactions among the team
- Use Video as Often as Possible—There are so many benefits to videos, even just a weekly check-in video. It’s interesting that all of our experts pointed out a different advantage of using video to connect
- Set Clear Expectations—Clear expectations sets standards for salespeople to maintain
- Invest in Resources—If you want to manage a remote sales team effectively, you need to invest in tools that match their work environment and provide them with resources that set them up for success
In his interview with Inside Radio, CSS Managing Partner, Matt Sunshine stated the importance of having the right mindset and tools to work from home. "Working off a laptop also won’t cut it in the long-term. A keyboard, monitor, printer, and office supplies are essential." But there was another piece of key advice—"So is buy-in from management. You have to have a management team that supports this, embraces it and builds a culture around it.”
Expert Tips for Managing a Remote Team
John Henley, Managing Partner
Continue to hold group meetings, with everyone joining via Teams, Skype, or some other shared screen service. Use the following Remote Facilitation Guidelines:
- Cameras on!
- Run a timer on screen to keep each segment on track.
- Have agenda on screen.
- Give them an assignment: Share a note-taking outline for each segment of the meeting if you want them to take notes or close each segment with a question and give people a moment to think and write an answer to that question.
- Assign a note-taker and have notes appearing on screen during the meeting to keep them focused. For example, if the agenda item is how to approach current clients at this time, you add the main points on screen as the presentation is happening. Main notes could be, ask them how things are going, how you can help, and set an action plan at the end.
- Tell the group in advance that after each segment, you will be randomly calling on someone to ask them what stood out to them, what they noted.
Stephanie Downs, VP/Senior ConsultantThe team wants to still feel connected, so keep employee engagement at a high level.
- Keep regularly scheduled sales meetings—and use video conferencing so everyone can see each other! A client I was talking to today told their team to wear silly hats to the sales meeting this week.
- Do one-on-one meetings via video. You can even be Facetime!
Trey Morris, Senior Consultant
When managing a sales team remotely, communication is key and so is continuity. Don't adjust your schedule just because everyone is in a different place. If you do sales meetings at 9 a.m. on Monday, then do a sales meeting on Monday at 9 a.m.
- Get everyone connected through either Microsoft Teams App or Google Hangouts.
- Set your laptop to capture the video and hold your sales meeting.
You should also be sure to hold your Individual Focus Meetings (IFM's) with your salespeople. These meetings can be done on the phone or using one of the video conferencing software, like Teams, Google Hangouts, or Zoom.
Beth Sunshine, VP/Talent Services
A crisis like the Coronavirus can feel extremely distracting and disruptive to employees and force them to juggle new and competing tasks.
We encourage sales managers to be empathetic to this and in turn, work to increase confidence by continually discussing and clarifying their goals and identifying their priorities. Possibly even more important than focusing on the work that needs to be done, however, it will be critical that you make time to create personal interactions among the team.
- You can do this by scheduling regular team meetings that allow your people to connect virtually, and always start out those meetings with some “watercooler time” where people can just chat and share.
- Also, consider using a platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack where your group can interact in a more informal and conversational way. Encourage people to share how their remote work day “looks” by posting photos of their four-legged coworkers or a selfie that shows business attire on top and pajamas on bottom.
- Finally, create a market-wide way for people to give each other high-fives for the good work that is being done. Our company uses a closed (private) Facebook group and we look forward to High-Five Fridays so we can point out the terrific support we are getting from our remote coworkers, thank people for a job well done, or congratulate others for a success that week.
Dani Buckley, General Manager at LeadG2
- Make sure they have what they need to be successful at home—the right equipment, tools, etc.
- Be clear on your expectations but treat remote work differently. For instance, if you expect them to be available and online during certain hours, tell them that. If you are more focused on them getting done what they have to get done then don’t worry about when they work but have a system for accountability around what is getting done each day or week.
- Be communicative and patience. If your team isn’t used to working remotely—have conversations to talk about what they’re learning, what challenges are, what’s working well, etc.
Craig Jones, Senior Consultant
- Set expectations: number of quality calls per week—shared screen appointments will be key.
- Train the sellers how to use your shared screen service. Do not take for granted that they can.
- Talk to your team every morning. Share successes, trends, anything of importance that engages them. Don't let them feel isolated.
- Make your CRM a priority and document everything.
- Sales managers will need to set the tone with their activity online and on the phone.
- Never has there been a better time for the "Don't Give Up Process." Document seven attempts in ten business days.
- Online shopping will rise. Ideas on how to take advantage of that will be great valid business reasons (VBRs.)
Deborah Fulghum, Sr. Talent Analyst
- Keep your weekly sales meetings and one-on-one meetings in place. Virtual meetings are easy! Send an agenda to each person prior to your calls so that you can stay on task to time. Always build in 10 minutes at the beginning of your call for small talk and time to catch up. For group calls, ask open your meetings with a fun activity. Most salespeople crave interaction so talking to them about daily life is a smart way to begin these calls.
- We use a shared calendar system so we can see when another person is available to work on projects or strategize on plans. It helps to feel like you know what others are doing, especially since you can’t see them.
- At CSS, we “talk” to each other all day using a Teams chat room. Saying good morning or sharing a funny story allows us to feel connected. Consider finding a way to connect your team daily.
Kurt Sima, VP/Senior ConsultantHave a reason to meet virtually. Pick a topic and have something planned. It's best if you:
- Pick a topic and let them know ahead of time.
- Give sellers an assignment that they have to complete and email in.
- Teach on the topic.
- Try to make a game out of it—use something like Kahoot!
- Review assignments.
- Always use the webcam—everyone, not just you.
- Keep it to 30 minutes or less.
Alysa Hinshaw, Senior Coach
At CSS, we all work 100% remotely. Matt Sunshine, a managing partner, sends out a company wide video every Monday discussing what’s happening and what’s important to focus in in the week ahead. It’s a great way to feel connected and stay in the know about everything happening with the team, department or company overall.
- Create an internal online forum for employees where people can feel connected and share information. It could be a private Facebook page or Teams Chat for the company, department or team.
Set Your Remote Team Up For Success
The tips listed above will help you develop a work setting that will improve your sales pipeline and the overall productivity and culture of your team. For more advice on working remotely, reach out to one of our experts!