Modern sales reps are spoiled by the concept of doing all their work from the comfort of their homes.
They've gotten used to waking up right before the start of the workday, not having to waste hours commuting. They like to run demo calls in their PJs, and they don't have to leave their pets. Working from home is just so much better.
But here's the catch.
Many managers hoped things would go back to normal soon, and still haven't figured out how to manage a distributed team successfully.
If you're one of those leaders, we have bad news — remote work is here to stay.
According to a survey by Owl Labs, 32% of respondents said they would quit their job if they could not continue working remotely.
So, unless you want to lose talent, you must offer your sales team an opportunity to work remotely.
To ensure your business benefits from it, you need to work on increasing the efficiency of your distributed teams.
Read this article to find 7 practical tips on how to do that quickly.
A distributed sales team, also called a virtual or remote sales team, reflects the shift towards digitalisation caused by the pandemic. This sales team generates leads, performs outreach campaigns and closes deals, all from a remote and unspecific location, such as their homes. Thanks to an abundance of virtual communication channels such as social media, email and video conferencing, the job of a sales representative can now be performed from home.
“Up to 80% of sales interactions will be done through digital channels by as early as 2025”
From a human resources perspective, working from home also provides tremendous motivation. Being at home provides a less stressful atmosphere. Commuting becomes a thing of the past, leaving your employees with more time to take care of day-to-day life. Prepping for the next workday also becomes hassle-free as you don’t have to do things like meal-prepping.
This allows your sales representatives to focus on doing their job to the best of their abilities, in a space where they feel the most comfortable.
Of course, some old-style managers could say this would lead to them slacking off. If your sales hires aren’t self-disciplined enough to work without oversight, are they really the right people for the job?
The challenges of a fully-remote team
Working from home comes with a complete set of entirely new challenges that many companies weren’t familiar with before. The experience of going remote is, after all, something new for most employees and employers alike.
Prospects getting distracted
According to a study from Zippa, as many as 67% of employees working remotely have admitted to being distracted during work calls.
Of course, this doesn’t refer to the sales representatives themselves. At the end of the day, their performance is directly linked to the paycheck they take back home. This statistic refers to the people they’re selling to.
Often, prospects are not as invested in the sales process as sales representatives.
After all, how could they be wholly engaged when their phone is buzzing with a new notification saying Elon Musk ruined something new about Twitter, new emails popping up on their screen as they’re trying to have a conversation, and all their other work processes happening in the background of it all?
It’s important to double-check that your prospect has caught all of the crucial information and vital talking points from your pitch. Never speak for too long because a drift-off becomes inevitable.
Moving interactions with prospects to the digital frontier also comes with new issues that are entirely out of the sales representatives or the prospect's control - technical issues.
Power outages due to weather conditions, connectivity issues, and poor condition of the hardware used during meetings, such as bad microphones or laptops that lag when sharing the screen during a demo. Of course, some of these are minor issues, but not all are.
Demonstrating product features becomes harder
If your company provides SaaS products, you can skip over this as this product is very well suited to remote selling. If your company specialises in physical goods, this might be a challenge you’re going to face.
Showing off your physical product over a video conferencing call will require your sales team to develop a new script for the demo to ensure that the points you need to get across are still understood by prospects over digital communication.
Note: These are only minor setbacks that require a small number of adjustments. Like a digital form of jetlag.
There are also plenty of ways to boost your virtual sales team's efficiency. Stay tuned to find the most effective in our article!
7 tips for increased efficiency in fully remote teams
You can help your sales team reach higher levels of success, while working virtually, if you follow these tips…
Set clear expectations
An essential part of ensuring that your team performs equally while distributed as they did when they were all together in one place is ensuring that every team member is on the same page about the standards expected of them.
Set clear goals for your sales representatives, a simple “make me more money” won’t cut it.
It’s also important to encourage your team to communicate with each other and share experiences regularly. Organise regular meetings through video conferencing to ensure your sales unit stays connected and informed of the expectations and objectives.
Some ways to put this to practise include…
- Set specific KPIs for each member of your sales team and the sales team in general.
- Establish specific working hours. No need to stick to the traditional 9-to-5, but settle on a timeframe when you expect all your employees to be online.
- Conduct regular (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) all-hands meetings, where the whole team discusses the progress they've made, challenges, and plans.
- Conduct regular performance reviews and 1-to-1s with members of your distributed sales team to assess their performance, outline areas of improvement, and put together a development plan.
Revisit your onboarding process
A well-executed onboarding process significantly motivates your sales team, increasing productivity. However, when the company changes how the sales process is conducted, it is crucial to revisit the onboarding process.
Have new strategies been implemented? Have new tools been put to use? If yes, it may be time to revisit your onboarding process with the addition of the due adjustments.
Some good remote onboarding practices are…
- Give out login credentials to all the tools you use for remote sales
- Create a single repository for sales enablements
- Create a contact sheet with all the key figures and their areas of responsibility
- Dedicate a section of your onboarding to remote selling practices
Use the right tools
Sure, managing all of your sales contacts through spreadsheets, copy-pasting your prospects’ phone numbers into your dialer every time you call someone is a working strategy. However, leveraging technology in the sales process can help your virtual sales team infinitely.
An efficient CRM system is a necessity for the streamlining of your remote sales team. Implementing a CRM system provides an overview of your ongoing sales activities and helps visualise the pipeline.
CRM systems also help sales teams better organise their data. Customisable fields that are set as required ensure the sales representative doesn’t forget a piece of data, and custom views help you see the statistics you want to see.
With more advanced systems such as NetHunt CRM, you also get features such as…
- Automatic task creation
- Automatic email campaign creation
- Integrations with LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, Intercom and Ringostat and more
- Sales and marketing automations
- Automatically-generated reports
There are other specialised tools that businesses use in their remote work processes.
One such tool is Slack. It is used to establish better communications within a company and connect remote employees to each other and the data they need. Another tool that companies often use is Google Workspace, an environment that links employees of a company to each other and to any G Suite apps or integrated products.
Streamline data exchange
This point isn’t only helpful to remote teams but to any team in general.
Being able to exchange data between teams quickly is crucial to the smooth running of sales, marketing, and accounting processes.
Implementing a CRM system tackles this issue incredibly. Every interaction between a sales rep and the lead or customer gets automatically recorded in the CRM. It can then be accessed from the customer record under the Timeline tab.
That way, even if the sales rep assigned to the customer changes, all the information about the deal remains complete and easily accessible. Furthermore, a reliable CRM solution like NetHunt CRM allows users to configure access permissions so that only authorised users can view and edit specific records, views, and folders.
The dedicated notes section also ensures that team leaders can track multiple members' progress on their calls without having to listen in on the rings themselves.
File management is also vital. It is often difficult to find which files belong to which record at a glance, even in the office. With a CRM system, there is a dedicated file management system that is attached to specific leads. Opening any customer card automatically shows any files associated with that record.
Automate wherever possible
The rise of sales automation and AI has made the jobs of SDRs much less tedious. Most routine tasks can be performed by a machine, meaning the sales representative gets to have more time to spend on the work that matters.
Automating your sales processes helps your distributed sales team perform better. They are motivated to stay in the workflow loop, rather than get distracted by the comforts of their home.
NetHunt CRM’s automation functionality can send outreach and follow-up emails automatically. The salesperson is only pinged to start working on the deal once a human’s attention is required. This allows SDRs to spend more of their workday doing things they like about their job, leading to higher productivity.
If you want to learn more about sales automation, we recommend you read our article How to automate your sales process!
Track key sales metrics
Keeping a finger on the pulse of your sales process gives insights into what works and what doesn’t. This allows you to adapt your strategies to bring in more success to the company.
Within NetHunt CRM, generating reports could be done at the click of a button.
Utilise the Google Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio) integration to create in-depth reports with beautiful charts that get updated automatically as the data in your customer records changes. This ensures that you’re always up-to-date on the activities and performance of your sales team, no matter when you decide to have a look.
Some key metrics to look out for in a distributed sales team are…
- Pipeline reports help you see if any prospects are stuck on one point in the pipeline
- KPI attainment reports, also known as sales goals reports, show you whether your SDR’s are hitting their goals and performing how you expect them to
- Calls made, emails sent, and meetings booked by each sales rep, letting you know how actively sales reps pursue potential deals
- Sales and marketing automations
- Win rate reports help you see gauge the ROI per lead as it sees how many deals end up getting won out of the total amount of potential clients.
For a more complete list of reports that are essential to have for different teams operating in your business, check out this article with 15 essential reports for different teams.
Offer flexibility and stop micromanaging
Give remote salespeople a chance to identify the times when they're most productive and allow them to work during those times.
At the same time, it's essential to have a specific business-wide routine and schedule, to squeeze regular standups into the schedule. During those meetings, all the team members report on what they've done, what they're working on, and what they plan to do.
Micro-managing employees isn't a wise decision in-person, even less so when your team has gone remote. Let employees breathe regarding how they organise their tasks and reach their KPIs. As we said previously, self-discipline is a necessary skill for sales.
However, this doesn't mean that you should leave your sales team unattended. Make sure you know what every member of your distributed sales team is up to with the help of a team activity report.
➡️ Read more about the team activity report and how it can boost your sales team's performance.
Finally, if you see that your sales team isn't reaching its targets, make sure you get to the root of the problem and fix it.
Coach your sales team to identify strengths and weaknesses and teach them how to sell more effectively.
➡️ Learn how to use CRM data to coach your sales team in our article.
Although the tips outlined in this article are going to have a positive impact on the performance of your distributed sales team, there’s a bit more work to be done to take your remote sales to their maximum potential.
Managing your remote sales team correctly is one of - if not the - most important aspect of creating a successful distributed sales team.
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