In this blog, Lumi Senekal, a Business Development Executive at Huble digital, shares tips how to successfully manage a sales team remotely. COVID-19 has challenged sales managers to quickly onboard the correct software and skills they need to align sales teams remotely.
Managing sales teams efficiently, without micromanaging, has always been notoriously difficult. And, in the past year, getting this balance right has only gotten tougher, as managers have been thrown into remote team management.
Fortunately, over the last year, companies have slowly discovered that remote working doesn’t lead to lazy employees or a lack of control over output. In fact, last year, CNN found that 94% of employers believed productivity in the company was the same (67%) or higher (27%) than it was before the pandemic, even though their employees have been working remotely.
Huble Digital, like many businesses, has also been operating remotely since March 2020 and with some much needed adjustments, has seen an increase in productivity since remote working began.
With sales teams split across the UK, USA, Germany, Singapore and South Africa and with 30 new hires in the last year, we’ve learnt a lot about how to keep these teams focused, goal orientated and working seamlessly together in a remote team set-up.
Here are our top ten tips to managing sales teams remotely.
1. Set clear goals and targets
Making your goals and targets clear to your team is one of the biggest challenges when you’re all working remotely. Communication here really is king!
Ensure alignment by setting and sharing your goals over a live, recorded discussion — like a specially scheduled Zoom or Teams meeting. This way, each team member has the freedom to create their own format for forecasting, but everyone’s got the recording to refer back to. At Huble Digital, we use HubSpot to track our deals and their deal stages, which we then compare against our monthly targets.
2. Arm yourself with the tools of your trade
We no longer have the option of relying on office resources to tide us over when we’re short on resources. Succeeding at remote sales management means securing tools and infrastructure you may have previously taken for granted: working hardware, a reliable internet connection, stationery, software… You get the idea!
Arm yourself and your team with the tools of the trade. At Huble Digital, for instance, we’ve recently switched to BreatheHR and it’s simplified how we track equipment amongst the team — ensuring everyone’s properly resourced.
3. Embrace the new styles of networking
Networking is the lifeblood of sales, and connecting virtually has to be a quality replacement for face-to-face-connections. Add tools like Linkedin Sales Navigator to your playbook to help find people that meet your search criteria. And social networks have also become a respectable way of networking, so reconsider whether you may want to reach out to “right fit” prospects over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.
4. Don’t discount face-to-face connections entirely
It’s easy to forget how powerful human connection is when you’re behind your laptop 24/7. Whenever it’s safe to do so, take the opportunity to meet up with someone (whether it’s a member of your team, or a prospect), and boost your feel-good chemicals. Even a small interaction could boost morale and energise your outlook for the day.
5. Maintain your balance
Are you working from home, or living at work? When you’re not changing locations for work, it can feel hard to tell. Resist the urge to extend your workdays unnecessarily. To succeed at remote sales management, a healthy work-life balance is key. Ultimately, the time you spend away from your desk will recharge you and give you the life experience you need to master the human connections your professional success relies upon.
6. Stay motivated
While your typical sales goals are set monthly, a series of shorter-term goals are a great way to keep your eye on the target. Whether you need to set hourly, daily or weekly goals — set the cadence you need to stay motivated and give yourself a vital sense of achievement when you’d otherwise feel like a salmon swimming upstream.
7. Champion collaboration over competition
Competition is an inevitable by-product of a motivated sales team. While a little healthy competition never hurt your sales figures, collaboration is what really wins the day.
Technology can help ensure your team works together, rather than against each other. The Huble Digital sales team, for example, rely on HubSpot and Refract. The HubSpot CMS gives us clear feedback on our goals vs performance through it’s dashboard and reporting software, while Refract helps us monitor, and optimise, our calls.
8. Manage your time zones
Working remotely has opened up a global market. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, you’ve got to navigate multiple time zones efficiently.
If your sales team is working with contacts based in a different region, be sure to schedule all outreach at a time that suits your contacts. This may take some negotiating with your team, but will pay off sales figures. After all, nobody likes to get an email at 3am!
9. Always look on the bright side of life… and business
Everyone feels down sometimes — as a team manager your challenge is to create an atmosphere that empathises, but does all it can to keep things light and motivated. A great way to do this, is to keep things personable. For example, humanising the digital/remote work experience can be as simple as encouraging your team’s pets to make guest appearances on Zoom meetings.
By setting a positive tone, your team will know that even their lowest days will be met with compassion and the support they need to remain motivated and successful.
10. Recognise, and manage stress
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But there’s a lot you can do to counteract its negative effects, and to minimise the times it rears its ugly head. And the same goes for your team.
Give yourself and your team some time to brainstorm healthy ways of recognising and managing stress. Perhaps you host a daily 5-min group mindfulness exercise, or incentivise regular exercise — whatever works, take the time to find it and do it! If everyone on the team is actively engaged in learning (and applying) healthy coping mechanisms and stress-reducing techniques, you’ll enjoy sustainable performance.
Share your ideas with us!
Your company, management style and sales team are unique, and we’d love to hear what’s been working for you (or not!). How are you managing your remote sales team? Get in touch or leave a comment on our social posts (Twitter and LinkedIn) and let us know!