In this guide, we’ll provide you a framework of the best five must-do tasks for any virtual sales manager to get the most out of their team.
How is remote management different from co-located management?
There are a few key ways in which managing a remote sales team is different from managing a co-located sales team.
The most obvious one is the lack of face-to-face contact. This can make some tasks more difficult, such as providing feedback or motivating your team.
Another key difference is that you might not have as much control over your team’s work environment. This could be anything from their home setup to the quality of their internet connection.
Finally, you’ll need to get used to communicating via video rather than in person. This might take some getting used to, but there are plenty of great tools out there to help with this (more on that later).
The five-part optimum framework for virtual sales managers
Now that we know why we need to adapt our management styles for the remote working landscape, let’s map out the framework to lead your sales team to success.
Build meaningful, easy to follow workflows
While we think of sales as an individual pursuit (each team member is tasked with bringing in leads and revenue), companies will suffer if they don’t work as a team.
But when working in different locations, it’s not possible to simply get up and discuss tactics, or overhear crucial phone calls that can help lead you in your own sales endeavors.
As such, you need to create virtual workflows that allow all team members to contribute and find information quickly. To be successful, for each type of information you have and/or need, you should have a strict process on specific software that every member must adhere to. Here are a few of the workflows you’ll need to consider:
Generating leads and building client lists
Without clients, your team will never sell anything. So, it’s important to have a good system for generating and storing leads.
Your team should be continuously adding new leads to the system, as well as updating information about existing ones. This will help you keep track of potential sales, as well as see which methods are working best for generating leads.
The process for this might look something like this:
The sales team member finds a lead and enters their information into the company’s CRM system.
The sales manager then assigns a follow-up task to the Account Executive (AE) or the handoff is included as an automatic handoff between the two.
The team member makes contact with the lead and updates the CRM with any new information.
This process should be followed for every single lead, no matter how big or small.
Tracking sales progress and targets
It’s not enough to simply generate leads – you also need to track your team’s progress in converting them into paying customers.
Again, this is something that should be done using a CRM system. Each team member should update the system every time they speak to a lead, so you can see the sale moving forward or anywhere it is stalling out.
You should also set sales targets for each team member, so you can track their progress and identify any areas where they might need help.
Tracking inventory and revenue
This is particularly vital if your team sells physical merchandise, but it’s also important to track even if you’re selling digital products or services.
You need to know what inventory you have, where it is, and how much revenue it’s generating. This will help you make decisions about what to sell, how to price it, and when to order more.
Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google hangout… there are so many systems out there to keep your team connected.
However, if you start using more than one, you’ll find team members starting to get lost in the tech. The best communication software allows teams to talk in one place and leave notes for each other, whilst also facilitating one-to-one interactions.
But the software you use is just the beginning of your communication journey.
As a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure your team is on the same page when it comes to objectives and queries. So how do you facilitate that?
You make the most of team meetings.
Most successful teams will have a quick morning meeting every day to outline objectives and relay vital notices, and then one longer meeting either at the beginning or end of the week.
These team meetings should be focused and well-structured, with an agenda that’s circulated beforehand. That way, everyone knows what needs to be discussed and can prepare any questions or points they want to raise.
Optimize training processes
If you want your team to sell successfully, they need to be properly trained.
That means having a process in place for onboarding new team members and ensuring they understand your products or services inside out.
It also means providing ongoing training and development opportunities, so your team can keep up with product development, the latest changes in your industry, and selling strategies.
The best way to do this is to create a dedicated training program that covers everything from product knowledge to objection handling. After all, selling remotely usually includes a sophisticated IT package that can be difficult to get your head around – especially to begin with.
There are a number of ways you can deliver training:
1-1 video training sessions
This is the ideal course of action for the newest additions to your team. By giving 1-1 training via video call, you allow them to interact with you in real-time while observing what you’re doing on the screen.
That way, they have the ability to ask questions as they go.
Try pairing newer sales team members with more experienced ones for peer mentoring. The objective of this is that less experienced team members have someone they can get to know and direct all their questions towards.
It also lifts some of the ongoing training burdens off of you, the manager, and allows your sales reps to find their feet quicker. Plus, it gives them an instant work friend, which is always a bonus!
Some people take a few explanations before information sticks in their head. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way their brain is wired.
So, why not film yourself going through various workflows and sales IT scenarios and posting them on a team site for quick access? That way, your team members can use it as a reference and try to boost their training independently.
When it comes to working remotely, it’s extremely hard to monitor your team’s work behavior.
It’s not a good idea to rule with an iron fist, nor is it advisable to let your employees run wild.
But by implementing some ground rules, you can create mutual trust with your team to get on with the job at hand.
It helps to introduce the company and its culture during the first day or two of the onboarding preference.
Here, you can lay out your expectations on key issues including:
- Communication conduct
- Deadline timeliness
- Breaks and lunch protocol
- Start and finish times
- Customer communication etiquette
Once you lay the foundations for respectful conduct, you’ll find you’re able to loosen the reigns and allow your team members to find their own rhythm of work within the paradigms you initially set out.
Team building, motivation, and fun
At the core of every team, there is one key element – human beings. We’re not robots. It doesn’t matter how many sales objectives, rules, and training sessions are thrown at us, we can’t function at 100% all day every day sitting alone at our desks.
Which is why it’s essential to incorporate fun team-building activities into your normal work schedule. This serves multiple functions
- Getting to know your colleagues better (which is difficult in remote teams)
- Learning to work as a unit
- Releasing some built-up tension
- Showing your employees you care about more than just their sales numbers
There are a number of ways you can do this, from weekly video call catch-ups to group challenges with prizes. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming – the key is to make it regular so that your team feels supported and knows that you’re there for them, even when you’re not in the same room.
In turn, this sales framework will help motivate your team to perform better. Because when you show you care about them on a human level, they will reciprocate the care through doing the best job they can.
Managing a team is difficult, but frameworks make it easier
By following these five steps, you can create a strong remote sales team that will help your business to grow. Implementing a solid foundation from the beginning will make all the difference in ensuring your reps are engaged and productive, even when they’re not in the office.
Are you ready to level up your remote sales team? Why not contact us and see how we can help you today?