Regardless of how you feel about it, more companies are going remote — that includes sales teams. Getting salespeople to hit numbers is hard enough in person. So, how do you keep them jacked up outside the office? It all starts with the right framework…
Entrepreneurs and senior staff had to learn tough lessons when the coronavirus hit in 2020. On top of that, they had to learn them fast.
THE OPTIONS WERE TO ADAPT TO DOING BUSINESS VIRTUALLY OR COLLAPSE.
I am proud to say that my companies came out the other side — and even experienced growth.
Salespeople are the gears that generate the income to fuel your business. And, it looks like from-home employment isn’t going anywhere — even post-pandemic…
For that reason, I will outline the exact formula that helped me manage my remote sales team successfully.
The marketplace isn’t waiting, so let’s get started.
Set Structure & Consistency as #1 Target
The key to having a strong salesforce in general is standard processes that lead to predictable results. Therefore, the secret to having successful remote employees is…
HAVE AS LITTLE CHANGE AS POSSIBLE FROM THE IN-OFFICE SETTING.
Ideally, there should only be two differences between working face-to-face and online.
- Where they make their phone calls from.
- Possibly what they wear.
It’s easy for remote workers to get distracted or be tempted to slack off. With this in mind, your first objective is to ensure that SOPs are kept — no exceptions!
But, you need to make it crystal clear what they need to be doing, how to do it, and how much they must produce…
Write Up the Expectations for Your Remote Sales Team
A big question that comes up when taking a sales team remote is, “How do I hold my people accountable.” However, I think there is something more important than accountability…
EVERY SALES REP KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS THE EXPECTATIONS.
Your salespeople must grasp what your organization defines as a “good job.” Otherwise, you’re bound to run into problems.
These workers are making decisions at a distance. And they need YOU to guide them, so they make the right decisions.
I would encourage you to sit down and write out your Virtual Activity Expectations in a Word document.
SPECIFY WHAT IS WANTED AND NEEDED FOR A SALESPERSON TO BE CONSIDERED “ON TRACK.”
After, you should distribute this to all members of your sales department. From there, it eliminates confusion when something needs to be addressed.
By the way, that is how you become a better sales manager — virtual or not.
Still, you also need a way to monitor if they are meeting these targets…
Make the Use of Tech & Reporting Non-Negotiable
I am convinced that using statistics is the best way to measure performance. To run a profitable salesforce in a virtual environment, reporting must happen more often as well as become stricter.
Subsequently, include stat reports and their frequency as a part of your Expectations document from earlier.
There is a variety of technology and software that can monitor how much your remote sales team is doing. Choose one and get your guys familiar with it.
That way you can see everyone’s progress at a glance. At first, you may get pushback about the extra administrative work…
Just remind them you’re not doing this to slow them down…
YOU’RE DOING THIS SO YOU CAN CONTINUE TO GIVE THEM A JOB!
Next, let’s talk about the best work-from-home schedule for your team…
Create a Power Schedule for WINNING Remote Sales Teams
Aside from those in other time zones, there should be locked-in times for workers to start and end their day.
THIS ADDS TO THE STRUCTURE AND STABILITY CRITICAL TO A SOLID REMOTE SALES TEAM.
Also, we all know that time is money. Having a set schedule allows you to maximize how much you make while the marketplace is open for business.
Additionally, you should nail down predetermined checkpoints throughout the day. This breaks down the days’ production into intervals so you can assess progress.
For continued expansion, the goal should never be time management. It should be doing more within operating hours.
This is the exact outline of checkpoints my sales managers use daily…
Checkpoint #1: Daily Training and Motivation
You can consider the first checkpoint of the day the pregame warm-up. It consists of everything that your remote sales team needs to do before the marketplace opens.
I BELIEVE IF YOU WIN THE MORNING, YOU WIN THE DAY.
Making sales from a distance is harder than in person. For that reason, out-of-office salespeople need to know how to overcome objections and “no” more than ever.
That’s where daily motivation and sales training come in.
The minimum amount of time your sales department should spend learning is 15 minutes daily. And, you should be assigning the content they train on based on the previous day’s numbers…
Consider these topics for this routine, continued education:
- Product Knowledge
- Industry Specifics
- Sales Technology Training
- CRM Software Usage
This checkpoint sets your guys up for success. Additionally, it lets you know which members of your team are disengaged if they don’t hit this first target.
Make this a mandatory initial step each day, and you’ll have a headstart for a world-class virtual salesforce.
Checkpoint #2: Virtual Team Meeting
Your second checkpoint also occurs before the workday starts. You will establish a virtual sales meeting over Zoom that happens at the same time every day.
THIS MEETING SHOULD BE SHORT AND TO THE POINT. DON’T WING IT!
You will have two focuses of discussion at this morning meeting.
- The training material you covered as a group.
- Highlights and wins from the previous day.
Further, you must ensure your salespeople are present and paying attention during this meeting.
With that in mind, call on random team members to ask what their takeaways were from the training. Then, have them describe how they will apply it to their roles.
YOU WANT YOUR SALES DEPARTMENT TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY’RE LEARNING AFTER ALL.
Use this checkpoint to assess that. Now, let’s get into how to monitor your remote sales team throughout the day…
Checkpoint #3: Check the Pulse
I cannot stress this enough…
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY TO SEE IF YOUR SALESPEOPLE ARE OFF TRACK.
I guarantee that if you ended your day with fewer deals, there were signs in the afternoon. Because of that, you must be looking at statistics every hour on the hour in a remote work environment.
Sometimes, this will require you to step in and get your hands dirty to help close deals…
Or, you may have to intervene with those with problems making sales quotas…
We’ll cover how to do both of those things in a moment.
BUT THE POINT HERE IS TO BE IN THE LOOP AND NOT IGNORE RED FLAGS.
Keep a close eye on your salesforce’s vital signs and you’ll end up with more successful days than not.
But what happens once the business day closes?
Checkpoint #4: End of Day Stat Broadcast
The fourth checkpoint of the day is also the cut-off of the business day…
HOW DID YOUR REMOTE SALES TEAM DO? WHAT IS THE DATA SAYING?
At this point, every member of the team’s stats are collected for a report. Then, that full report goes out to each person in the sales department.
IN SHORT, EVERYONE KNOWS HOW EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING — GOOD OR BAD.
This creates a built-in sense of transparency and accountability.
If you correctly check the pulse throughout the day, your salespeople will look forward to this. Whatever their results, you are going to gather them all together to discuss their numbers…
Checkpoint #5: Remote Sales Team Debrief
The final checkpoint of the workday is a short, simple meeting to go over everyone’s results.
What worked? What didn’t work?
This debrief is for you just as much as it is for them. You need to know what your remote sales team is facing out in the trenches. Otherwise, you can’t guide them effectively.
I also do a similar debrief with sales leaders and executives.
Besides appropriate training, there are additional leadership techniques to guide a virtual salesforce…
When and How Coach Your Team — from a Distance
As I mentioned, you’re going to watch how your team is doing all day long.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you on pace to meet quotas?
- What is the tempo of the group?
- Who needs a reset?
Based on the answer you must provide mental and physical fuel to ensure you end up on top.
For example, there is a group text that includes my entire sales department and all managers.
Sometimes, you can put big deals and wins to inspire the whole team all at once. This revs everyone up to do more if you’re behind or on pace.
Other times, you may need to check in with individuals you are struggling with deals. Call, FaceTime, or message them directly.
It can be they need a solution for common objections or to refuel with coffee or food.
In addition to these “reset” calls, regular performance reviews are an important part of managing a remote sales team…
What an Out-of-Office Performance Review Looks Like
Ideally, you should do a one-on-one with every salesperson twice a month. Once in the middle and at the end.
THE GREAT THING ABOUT PERFORMANCE REVIEWS IS THAT YOU CAN NEVER DO THEM TOO MUCH…
Especially with remote work.
These reviews are where you get on video calls with each team member and you look at the cold hard facts.
Bring them back to the company’s clear expectations as well as how they can get there. At the end, write an email with a summary of everything you discussed for them to keep.
Another interesting thing about these performance reviews. Even with an underperforming employee, there is usually an improvement in their sales performance.
Make the time for these reviews. They are worth the time.
YOUR Responsibility to a Remote Sales Team
Ultimately, the success of your remote sales professionals — as well as your business — is up to you.
A major aspect of that is creating these standard operating procedures, so this salesforce has the opportunity to win.
Yes, managing from a distance has its challenges. However, the more you adhere to routine, the easier it becomes.
May this be the blueprint for you to have a GREAT remote sales team.
I believe in you.
— Grant Cardone
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