Remote Sales Team: Principles, Practices and Management

Before you judge, I’ll say: Yes, this post was developed due to the situation we are currently experiencing in Brazil and in the world.

But no, he won’t talk about it anymore!

My goal here is to help you understand what needs to be done so that remote work, no matter why it needs to happen, is a way for you and your team to produce even more than you would normally produce in an office.

Is home office a good choice for any person profile? No of course not. However, what can’t be done in a remote work situation, whether it’s mandatory or not, is simply throwing it all away and saying, “this isn’t for me”.

So, if you don’t usually do well in this work situation, whether you are a salesperson or a manager, this post will give you the main guidelines and best practices for you to completely reverse this situation.

This content is focused, once again, on helping our ecosystem build a remote sales team.

Now, if you already do well with this model, you’ll find new hacks and ideas to apply to your work routine and stand out even more as someone who can do the job, no matter where you’re working.

So let’s go to action?

Basic principles for every remote sales team

In order for a company to develop and sustain a remote sales operation, whether short-term or long-term, it is necessary to keep some guidelines recommend by the sales team of nova city islamabad in mind.

First of all, we need to understand the context in which this company and/or this operation is inserted. A simple and quick way to get an initial idea is to do a SWOT analysis of the company or the solution that the team will sell.

By understanding these internal and external factors, it will be much easier to plan and execute what needs to be done.

A point that needs to be reinforced is that this matrix needs to be updated from time to time and also when there is a critical change in the company or in the market.

For example, when a virus becomes a worldwide pandemic, markets are in crisis and the way we work (and sell) has changed.

So, after fully understanding your company’s internal context, the external market reality, it will become much clearer which direction we will need to follow within the 4 aspects below.

These are the main points of attention in a sales team that works remotely from the home office.

Team (People)

Along with the last pillar (Communication), this will be the most determining factor in the success of the operation: The people who make up this operation.

A lot of people start talking here about developing a teleworking culture and all that, but I want to be more objective with you in this post.

The Culture is super important and is a great way to consolidate all of the pillars of which we’ll talk, but it is much more linked to “people work” than necessarily the “culture which encourages the company to its employees.”

Dealing with and encouraging some of the points below should be in line with your culture, without there needing to be an imbalance between one point and another.

Profile & Incentives

In the hiring process, it is necessary to look for people who have a more executing profile and a latent sense of responsibility. This profile will normally not allow itself to be unproductive in an environment in which it is not under supervision.

Along with a performer profile, we need to ensure that these people are able to express themselves well and communicate this effectively. After all, it’s no use having someone who does everything, but can’t align expectations and level knowledge with the rest of the team.

Communication is one of the principles of teleworking, but it’s not just about volume. We also need quality. So ensure that everyone is a minimally satisfactory communicator, both in writing and speaking.

Of course, during the hiring process we can also investigate the SDR/vendor’s behavior at times when he was under little operational oversight. Did he have any manager who did not micro-manage? How was your performance an activity with little direction?

Always remember that professionals with a higher level of maturity are able to face challenges and remove obstacles with greater ease. While younger team members require more direction and follow-up.

Now, to ensure the pace and deliveries of this team in the medium and long term, incentives based on productivity are always interesting.

Usually the salesperson is already commissioned according to sales, but I’m sure you, the manager, can be creative and think of other ways to motivate this team too, right? Encourage them!

After defining a salesperson profile for the job and also what will be the incentives for its good performance, the ideal is to build a mutual relationship of trust between salesperson and manager.

Trust & Transparency

In an environment where it is not possible to monitor the work of a team, the manager needs to receive constant feedback and updates on the day-to-day of their team, as well as the results they are bringing.

This is the most delicate part, in my opinion.

As remote work does not allow for close monitoring and ends up requiring salespeople to report even more to their managers, friction and mistrust can easily arise along the way.

A manager who stays on top of his team, demanding information at all times and trying to validate whether they are correct or not, ends up being feared by the team.

Perhaps this positioning will bring more results and increase productivity in the short term, but in the long term it will destroy the relationship between the manager and the team and bring several negative consequences for them and for the company.

Likewise, a salesperson who does not report frequently and does not make it clear what their day-to-day activities are being, as well as their planning, priorities and results, will start to be seen as a negative element in that team. .

Therefore, it is necessary for the manager to position himself “on the same side” as his salespeople, and not against them. Demonstrate that you are there to help and that you empathize with your team’s challenges. Remove obstacles from the front and keep everyone’s forces aligned in the same direction.

Have you seen our new free sales management certificate? So check it out here:

Along with this, salespeople need to demonstrate willingness to keep the team updated on their performance and communicate constantly, ensuring the development of the whole.

As our CEO Vinci’s says:

It is necessary to create an environment of radical transparency, so that everyone can share their mistakes, as well as their successes, and also so that they can ask for help and say “I’m sorry guys, I did something wrong. Can you help me out of this”?

If the company’s environment and culture allow anyone on the team to act like this, without being judged or crucified (within common sense, of course), then trust will emerge and organically establish itself throughout the team. 😀

Processes (Targeting)

A process can be defined as a sequence of actions and operations to be followed in order for a desired end result to happen.

So there is no such thing as believing that there is a sales process even if it is not documented. If this is your case, the first step to be taken is precisely to document these processes and share them with the team. I’m sure if there is more than one person running a step, their view will be different.

A great way to have everyone aligned and leveled about the processes they need to follow and also the best practices within it, the ideal is to build a Sales Playbook.

It must describe all activities and possible situations that salespeople may encounter in their day-to-day work.

Choosing what will be in or out of the playbook depends on each operation, but ideally it contains the fundamental information to empower salespeople and provide them with the information necessary to carry out their work efficiently and with constant results.

Some examples of what can be put into a playbook are:

  • Information about the solution that will be sold;
  • Information about the market in which the company is inserted;
  • KPIs, OPIs and commissioning/bonus rules;
  • Flowcharts of the processes to be executed;
  • Customer success stories;
  • Matrix of objections with the most frequent situations;
  • Instructions on how to use the work tools;
  • Structure of the main cadence flows along the funnel;
  • Delivery SLA and their relationship with other sectors of the company.

Of course you don’t need to put all of this in and it’s also clear that there are several other directions that can and should be present in the Playbook, but this really goes from case to case (I know, I hate to receive this answer too).

The most important thing here is that these processes are always under evaluation and optimization, as well as the communication with the team is always up to date, to keep everyone on the same page.

If you do it right, the playbook will be the bible (or constitution) of your sales team, which you can refer to whenever something goes unplanned or when questions and discussions arise.

Consulting the playbook didn’t solve it? So this already indicates an improvement to be made, adding or removing parts so that it is always well aligned with the reality of that team.

Some essential processes for virtually any sales team, especially remote ones, are:

  • Development of weekly performance reports with key KPIs;
  • Sales Engagement, with cadence flows for the different stages of the funnel ;
  • Weekly or One on Ones mentoring between salespeople and manager;
  • Quick and daily meetings with the team to share pre-agreed information (for example: the week’s priorities, evolution of the week’s goals, what was done on the day, what hindered the work, what is the plan for the coming days, etc.;
  • Weekly team meetings to share information (same footprint as daily meetings, but now taking into account the week);
  • Continuous and constant training with the team, whether given by the manager, that is, through sales training platforms ;
  • Segmentation of sub-teams, with 2-3 people, to give an even greater sense of unity, healthy competition and collaborative work;
  • Break down weekly, monthly, quarterly and so on goals (OKRs are a great strategy to make this happen).

In addition, there will be several other processes specific to each scenario and each operation.

My last tip here, which will take you to the next principle, is to try to automate as much of the operational processes and activities as you can, as long as it doesn’t affect the final quality of the delivery too much.

But, to ensure this operational efficiency in the processes, it is necessary to equip the team with the proper tools to make this work well.

Tools (Accelerators)

In the case of sales and remote teams, when we talk about tools we basically mean “software”.

This software must be chosen, acquired and used to increase the efficiency and/or quality of the work that the team performs, in addition to facilitating the management of this work and bringing visibility into how it is being performed and the results of this.

The idea here is to focus on collaborative tools that allow real-time monitoring of the team.

As this will differ from case to case and from process to process, I will simplify it for you and give you a list of some of the main types of software that help remote sales teams, as well as some examples and suggestions for each type.

Types and Examples of Tools to Optimize Remote Work

  • Document sharing: Google Drive, One Drive or Dropbox;
  • Sharing ideas: Notion, Tettra and Mindmeister;
  • Communication between the team: Slack, Whatsapp or Skype;
  • Remote meetings: Hangouts, Reev VoIP, Skype, Zoom or Whereby;
  • Call recording: FBX Recorder, Loom, OBS Studio or Reev’s VoIP;
  • Project Management: Asana or Trello;
  • To-do lists: Todoist, iDoneThis, Google Keep, or Notion;
  • Forecasting and pipeline analysis: CRMs in general (Pipedrive, Hubspot, etc);
  • Prioritization, visibility and efficiency executing activities: Reev ;
  • Constant training and development: Reev Academy.

I think that, with this list, you can start defining the main tools your team needs to run your processes efficiently and bring the necessary results, right?

Also, if you have any questions or need guidance, you can send me an email at andre@reev.co and I will try to give some more specific tips for your context. 😀

Now, to finish off the remote work principles, there’s a pillar that unites all the last three we just talked about. And he is Communication.

Communication (Alignment)

After: building a team of the right people (1); to document and optimize a process that encourages productivity and information alignment among the team (2); and to define the ideal tools to increase the efficiency and visibility of work on a daily basis (3); ideally, communication brings all these factors together and makes them work together without further friction.

The rule here is clear: It is better to over-communicate than under-communicate.

Is the balance always ideal? Of course it is, but as “communication” is something very intangible, and it depends on two or more parties (not just who is communicating), it is better to sin through excess than lack. And in the case of remote teams this is even more true.

In the Tools topic I mentioned several that help in this communication and alignment, but both the manager and the team need to be aware of their responsibilities in making this happen.

In the post talking about The Effects of COVID-19 on Sales, Vinícius spoke a little more about this and gave some examples, but what needs to be clear is that without communication all other principles will fail and not relate to each other.

Some of the main points of communication between the team are:

  • Pass and receive feedbacks;
  • Communicate process changes and optimizations;
  • Update the team on situations that have occurred or are occurring in the company;
  • Formalize and align the objectives/priorities of the company, the team and individuals;
  • Update the team on the work being done by each one and how this impacts the activities of the rest of the team;
  • Disseminate new discoveries and optimizations that can help everyone;
  • Pass on individual learning to the rest of the team;
  • And, of course, socialize, bond and have fun with your co-workers (even if you’re not in the same environment).

All of this, of course, will depend on:

  1. The proper profile of the people who make up the team.
  2. Of structured and documented processes to drive communication.
  3. Of the tools chosen to facilitate collaboration among team members.

Without these 3 pillars, communication will have difficulty flowing. But, with the 3 pillars well-structured and poor communication, the results won’t show either (or at least they won’t be as good as they could be).

Now that we are, you and I, aligned as to the main elements that make up high-performance remote teams in sales, let’s get to the specifics: How to get more out of working remotely, when we’re on the front lines and when we’re managing this team.

Left?

How to make the home-office pay when you are a Seller and/or SDR

Which sellers are not typically known by their organization everyone already knows?

But each day this is a necessary competency within a sales ecosystem that brings results and is scalable.

People who are able to organize and follow a daily routine as the team of Capital Smart City will find it easier to maintain high productivity in a remote work scenario.

Therefore, organization and focus are the main points of attention that a salesperson needs to have if he/she is in a home-office setting.

Define (and follow) your routine

The idea here is that you can get organized and fulfill your planning (daily, weekly, monthly) without too many distractions.

Knowing what we’re going to do, when we’re going to start, and even when we need to be done, gives us a sense of urgency and prioritization that helps not only productivity, but also keep us motivated to do it.

So, close the times in your calendar with the activities you need to do. Preferably, attack priority activities first.

By finishing the most important things of the day right away, you’ll start off on the right foot and with a sense of accomplishment. In addition to being more productive the rest of the day, you’ll be more motivated.

Also make sure that for tasks that demand more concentration (or those that you don’t like to do), a time has been closed in your schedule where you will not do anything other than this activity.

A good example for beginning sellers and SDRs is the infamous Cold Calls. Here in Reev we call “Power Hour” that blocked time on the agenda in which the focus will be complete in the activity in question.

Here the objective is to carry out a large number of activities in a short amount of time. That’s why we need 100% of our attention. So turn off your phone, suspend notifications from your computer, and no matter what needs to be done, go out there and do it!

Still talking about routine, take advantage of the extra time in the day that the home-office gives us (since we don’t have to go to and from the office) and use it to your advantage. Not to work, but to take a walk, change surroundings, read a book, exercise.

This type of activity helps us to be even more productive when we are focused on work. Staying all day locked in one room will make you much more unproductive.

It doesn’t matter how many hours we spend in front of the computer, but what we can enjoy and deliver with it.

Put yourself in a favorable environment

In the same way that leaving the house and “breathing new air” helps us when we go back to work, not having a specific work environment can also interfere, a lot.

Working while lying in bed might be tempting at first glance, but this is an example of a habit that can kill your productivity (and even your sleep).

This is because our brain gets used to certain environments and assimilates what mental state we need to have in each one of them.

If you normally use your bed just to sleep, but start working from there as well, you’ll end up getting sleepy during work and/or losing that sleep when actually sleeping.

How our brains experience and react to these environments will determine the quality of our work being there. So, carefully define where your “work environment” will be and train your brain to recognize that when you step in there, it’s time for action.

Do you have children and/or is your home already an environment with many distractions?

Make arrangements with the people who live with you so as not to disturb your work hours or make noise at certain times of the day. You have to rely on those who live with you to make this really work for you.

Another aspect that is not much part of the environment, but of you, is the way you dress.

Waking up and not bothering to shower and change into casual clothes (no, pajamas are not casual clothes!) can also send the wrong signals to your brain and reduce your productivity.

So dress as if you were going to work, or at least as if you were going to leave the house. This will exclude most of the inappropriate clothing for you to really “get into the flow”.

Set goals, track your performance and reward yourself for victories

At the home-office we don’t have anyone watching or watching us directly. So, falling into little distractions (and staying there) is something that happens without us even being aware of it.

The ideal here is to define your goals very clearly, based on measurable factors that can be evaluated and validated over time.

From your goal for that particular day, to your annual goal, you need to have that in sight at all times, and ideally, keep track of your progress toward it.

This will help you stay focused, prioritize your time and decisions, and give you more motivation to keep going as you see yourself making progress.

If you can, make agreements with yourself about rewards you can “give yourself” at each milestone you reach.

For example, if you managed to reach your daily goal, allow yourself to spend a little more time on that social network you like, or watching your favorite show.

Did you reach your goal for the week? Open up a beer (or other drink preferably) to celebrate your determination and the results you’ve achieved.

If you hit your goal for the month, make sure you set aside a day of your weekend to do the activity you enjoy the most, in celebration of your goal achieved and the race you had to give to make it happen.

Working remotely will make you feel lonely at times, so you need to visualize your progress, celebrate your victories and know very well where you want to go, understanding the sacrifices required to achieve that.

How to manage a remote sales team

For sales managers the scenario is even more complex.

In addition to having to self-manage and follow tips like those given in the topics above, he also needs to ensure that his entire team is motivated, productive and delivering the expected results.

As I said in the remote work principles, the main point of attention here is the team itself: the people.

really care

Don’t just show up when called or when you need something. Show your team that you are there for them and for them.

There is nothing more fulfilling for a salesperson than feeling that his manager “buys his fights” along with him. This is the sense of security they need to be able to focus 100% on getting their work done. The manager is on their side.

So instead of having meetings just to review their performance and give feedback, be a mentor to each of your team members.

Weekly meetings (both team and one-on-ones) are great times to direct, advise and really help the people you work with to be even better at the work they do.

And in addition to encouraging them individually, motivate them as a whole. Praise teamwork well done, as well as healthy competitiveness among the people who make up the team. This is a great way to keep the team engaged and in tune with each other.

Make Playbook your team’s best friend

Just as the people on your team and the communication that takes place between you are pillars for the remote work to work, the processes, tools and instructions that you communicate to the team are also fundamental to the success of the operation.

Therefore, document your processes well in a playbook, as well as instructions and best practices for the tools that salespeople will use in their daily lives.

Even the “communication” part itself can be aligned in this playbook. Document and formalize that:

  • There will be daily and/or weekly meetings;
  • That certain subjects have higher or lower priority;
  • As well as the need and importance of a constant flow of information among the whole team.

If you design a playbook masterfully and make your team really follow it, consult it when necessary and, above all, update it when necessary, you will ensure that everyone has the effort vectors aligned in the same direction.

You will add the strengths of your team and keep everyone on the same page, with the same priorities, the same goals and still ensuring a flow of information and optimization between them.

Conclusion (Extra Tip: Focus on “controllable” factors)

No, managers don’t have full control and visibility over their salespeople’s workday when the sales team works remotely.

No, salespeople don’t control much of the distractions and friction that come their way in a home-office setting.

However, what can be controlled is:

  • The way we see and treat each other;
  • The amount of effort we put into accomplishing a task that needs to be done;
  • The incentives we give and receive when goals are achieved;
  • The availability we offer to help our teammates;
  • The attention we choose to give to things of higher or lower priority;
  • The determination we have to hit our goals once we want to do it;
  • How much we invest in our own development, as well as in the evolution of other people on our team.

In an environment where managers have less control than usual and, on the other hand, salespeople have more autonomy and freedom than ever, focusing on aspects beyond our influence will only make everyone unproductive.

Several companies have been proving for decades that the teleworking model is not bad at all and often much more efficient than the office routine that most of us are used to (also known as office-office, loll).

Therefore, whether you are in this situation today by choice or by larger forces such as Coronavirus, understand and accept that the uncontrollable elements of this new context should not be a focus of concern.

In fact, the best way to try to influence this is, precisely, giving priority to what can be controlled, like all the points I’ve talked to you throughout this post.

Some of these tips and actions can only be effectively implemented with a little more time, but most of them can already be put into practice immediately, having the desired effect.

So, whether you are a salesperson, an SDR or a sales manager, understand that remote work is already a reality and that sooner or later we will need to adapt to it in some way.

Whether because of a pandemic that forces us to work from home, or because of the evolution of markets and work environments in the new decade we are entering, having discipline, organization and teamwork are fundamental aspects for any team.

Working from home or an office makes no difference when we are in the right environment and under the right incentives.