How to Build a Remote Sales Team and Empower Them to Perform Better
A future of remote sales has always been on the cards. However, no business thought that they’d need to switch to remote sales quite as quickly or as urgently as they did.
With the global pandemic fast tracking the inevitable rise of remote working, and forcing many teams to change their entire approach overnight, it’s not surprising that many sales reps lack the confidence to sell in the new sales landscape. In many cases, little training was provided during the transition… yet quotas have remained the same.
The result has been that sales reps, without appropriate support or training, have stuck to their tried-and-tested face-to-face sales processes. That’s what they know how to do, after all. But the problem is that these processes don’t always translate well to the remote environment. There are many critical aspects that can’t be transferred - meeting with the customer, for example - highlighting the need for sales to adapt.
Today’s leaders must know how to build a remote sales team, how to empower that team to perform better, and how to manage a remote team for optimal results and a continually upbeat sales forecast.
Why Build a Remote Sales Team?
A big question that sales managers are asking right now is this: why do I need to know how to build a remote sales team? Isn’t the pandemic only temporary? It is. But its effects on sales are not.
And it’s not just that adopting a remote approach could help satisfy your customers… It could help satisfy the board, too. According to HubSpot, the cost-per-acquisition for a remote sales team is, on average, 40-90% lower than that for a field-based sales team. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when you consider the marginal cost of incorporating a video sales process to get face time with a client versus the expense of travelling regionally, nationally or internationally (not to mention the lost selling time which occurs by being on the road) to physically sit in front of a prospect.
How to Build a Remote Sales Team
It may seem complicated to build a remote sales team when you’ve become so accustomed to building an on-site inbound sales team, but the truth is that it’s actually quite simple. There are just two things that you need to do: change systems, and change the inbound sales process.
- Changing systems involves implementing new tech-based systems that provide sales reps with the tools they need to work remotely. This typically includes meeting scheduling software, email management tools, eSignature tools, and video conferencing tools. However, as sales reps will be able to handle more opportunities at a time - one of the benefits of remote sales - it’s also important to implement a full CRM, such as HubSpot, that enables reps to manage all prospects through a single system to keep track of activity, deal creation, etc.
- Changing Processes involves adapting the way that sales reps engage with prospects. While content and video have largely been more closely associated with marketing, they are critical to helping your remote team to form better connections with geographically dispersed audiences. Content can be used to support each stage of the buyer journey - blogs for awareness, product descriptions for consideration, and video demos for decision, for example. Video can be used to form face-to-face relationships without face-to-face meetings.
However, the most important thing for sales managers to understand is that the best way to build a remote sales team is not to throw out everything and replace it with something new.
New systems and new processes mustn’t take over; they must integrate with more traditional approaches to build an effective hybrid model.
Managing a Remote Sales Team
Knowing how to build a remote sales team is one thing… but knowing how to manage a remote sales team is quite another! The good news is that many of the core aspects of management and leadership remain the same, whether your team is located on-site or at home. For example, communication, collaboration, and engagement are still critical (if not more so), along with establishing trust, deploying consultative sales coaching and mentoring.
However, there are a few additional things you should be thinking about when it comes to managing a remote team. The first is your own approach. Perhaps you love the idea of remote sales. Perhaps you hate it. Regardless of your own personal feelings about the situation, it is crucial that you adopt the right mindset and lead by example. Be positive when managing your team through change as this can be key to building confidence, calming nerves, and getting the team onboard with new ways of working.
Another important factor to think about is that you may not be in touch with your team all the time; not like you would be if you were all sitting in the same room. It’s vital to ensure that sales reps can find answers to their questions even when you’re not around. Work to build resources around product knowledge, time management, strategic prospecting, and virtual demonstrations, and store all documents, templates, and playbooks in a single, cloud-based storage system that can be accessed anywhere.
Getting the Most from Remote Sales
It’s no secret that remote sales has divided managers. Some are very open to the idea, while others worry about decreased productivity. The truth is that remote sales can work - in fact, research shows that around one third of businesses are finding remote sales to be more effective than traditional sales - but it can only work when done correctly.
Sales managers can’t expect to get the same level of productivity from their team if they’re not supporting them through change. To really get the most from remote sales, it’s essential for leaders to understand how to build a remote sales team, how to empower them to perform better, and how to lead them through disruption.