Sales professionals are the lifeblood of any organization – they drive growth and success. However, this also means they are under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce results and meet quota. It’s no secret a high-touch approach is an effective sales strategy when it comes to seeding and nurturing leads and customers. As such, a sales professional’s proximity to customers becomes extremely important.
Over time, as more organizations realized this, more sales teams began working remotely – kick starting the trend of the remote or mobile office. For the sales managers however, it was less about saving money and offering flexibility, and more about placing sales representatives closer to customers and prospects.
The face-to-face time with leads and customers proved incredibly valuable and powerful in building loyalty and strong customer relationships. Working remote however, doesn’t come without its costs – and these costs can impact performance if not addressed.
There are three primary factors that could derail the performance of remote sales teams, and the managers along with those working remotely need to be aware of these and have the tools in place to sidestep them.
1. Build a System of Remote Collaboration
It’s all too easy to operate in a silo when you work remotely. You may feel more productive without the water cooler chatter or co-workers stopping by your desk interrupting your flow, but remember these co-workers are also working to achieve the same goals.
Other sales professionals on your team can become a well of knowledge and a support network. When you take time to get to know co-workers you can identify top performers and learn their best practices, or share yours. You might also learn what not to do and avoid costly mistakes.
Set up social outings or take it digital with an internal messaging platform. If you don’t have access to an internal platform like Slack, private Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn groups also work well for staying connected to the team.
2. Make Regular Coaching a Priority
No matter how effective you are in sales, there is always room for improvement. Working in an office environment often provides opportunities for performance improvement with regular coaching, which countless studies have shown to be crucial to a high-performance sales team.
Sales managers and remote sales professionals need to actively make time for coaching, but not just generic, one-size-fits-all coaching. This should be tailored to the individual and based on their performance as well as the performance of the team as a whole. When coaching is specific and based on analytics, it provides a roadmap with actionable, more concrete steps to improve performance.
3. Foster Healthy Competition
Sales professionals are competitive by nature – and as much as you collaborate and support your co-workers (which is important too, just see above), you probably are also fiercely motivated to succeed and be a top seller. It’s that drive that will push you, and it’s a good thing.
One major pitfall of working remotely is a lack of that healthy competition. When working remotely, it’s highly unlikely anyone is ringing that bell for you when you make a sale. You also don’t have the visual of the leaderboard to see who might be outperforming you that day. You lose that natural competition that comes with working in an energetic sales environment. To be fair, you also don’t have the opportunity to high five a co-worker when they’ve done something great too.
This one can be more of challenge to create remotely, however with the use of the right technology it is possible. Again, social networking groups can work for this, as well as certain CRM and CSM tools. However, most of us don’t want yet another software or platform to have to sign into and update, so look for one that automatically runs in the background and integrates with the existing tools your team is using. This will create more team-wide buy-in.
Bottom line – don’t let distance become a factor in lackluster performance. Having the right tools in place and being aware of the possible pitfalls can help ensure working remotely does what it was meant to do – improve results.