Remote teams are nothing new in the sales world–field reps have been closing deals outside of the office since practically the beginning of time. Working remotely is, however, a newer development in inside sales. Having a remote team comes with a plethora of benefits including a larger pool of top talent you can hire and saving on office space.
Remote teams are great, but only if you have the right structure in place. Poor implementation can lead to a team that feels out of the loop, unmotivated, and not set up for success. Whether it’s a lack of communication or simply feeling isolated, a lot can go wrong.
Here are ten steps for building a remote inside sales team that smashes quota and remains engaged:
1. Hold Pull-Ups aka Stand-Ups
No matter what you decide to call it (this is a hotly debated topic in the ExecVision office), have quick morning meetings to check in with the team. These meetings must be short, sweet and to the point. Anything that requires more than a few minutes should be moved to its own separate meeting.
Pull-up doesn’t have to be a daily check-in, but it’s a good idea to have two or three a week. Our team sets goals on Monday mornings and fills out our ROA framework (Results, Objectives, Activities – from Cracking the Sales Management Code) but your team can use OKRs or KPIs to accomplish the same objective. We check in on these goals Wednesday mornings and then on Fridays, we wrap up the week by going over where we came in on our goals and any wins/losses.
2. Create an Effective Onboarding Process
It doesn’t matter how good your sales training program is, your team is going to forget most of it. That’s not to say you should throw your training program out the window. It means you need to have an effective onboarding process that not only trains your reps but provides them with resources and tools to succeed.
Create a list of topic experts within the company that is known to respond quickly to chat. Cover your bases from IT to HR and make sure your team knows who can answer their questions.
Assign a buddy or mentor for new hires. Not only will it provide new reps a point person, but it helps them get acquainted with another team member right off the bat.
Build best practice libraries. It should include example calls, documentation on decks you use, and any other documents that are useful to reference.
3. Stay Connected & Build Trust
Make sure your team is communicating with each other, including non-work-related chatter. Slack is a great way to stay in touch with each other without clogging your inbox. If you’re trying to recreate the traditional sales floor environment and energy, consider an app like Zoom where everyone can be on video together.
Swag packages are another great way to build a connection. Send out t-shirts, stickers, etc. but add a personal note from HQ or managers. Tell new hires how excited you are for them to join the team and share your appreciation with current team members. Personal messages go a long way.
4. Have Clear Ground Rules & Expectations
Working remotely typically offers a lot more flexibility than being in the office. With that flexibility comes the responsibility of setting clear expectations with the team. Will you require the team to be online for core hours regardless of their timezone? What are the ground rules for scheduling calls that require other team members?
If you set clear expectations from the start, you’re much less likely to run into issues like team members not being available when you thought they’d be.
5. The CRM is Sacred
Accurate CRM data is critical to any sales team, but it is even more crucial to the success of remote teams. Bad data leads to frustration and low morale. If your team is not staying on top of updating opportunities, adding call notes, or entering contacts into the system, it will quickly become a problem.
Get your team into good data habits early on. Keep the CRM up to date so everyone can be confident that the information they’re looking at is accurate.
6. Coach Effectively
Asynchronous coaching is hands-down the best way to coach a remote team. This eliminates and early mornings or late nights spent doing ride-alongs with reps in different time zones.
One-on-one coaching sessions for remote teams ideally take place on a web conferencing platform. Being able to see each other and share screens to review highlights and comments is critical to ensuring you’re on the same wavelength. Body language can tell you a lot about how a rep is absorbing coaching and you simply can’t get that from a phone call.
Peer-to-peer coaching is beneficial for any sales team. Encourage your reps to stay connected by highlighting and commenting on each others’ calls.
7. Host Meetups & Annual Retreats
Video calls and Slack chats are great, but they can’t replace spending time together in person as a team. Incentive trips are great, but it’s important to host an event that includes everyone regardless of performance. Whether that means a week at the central office or a team-building weekend somewhere fun is up to you.
If you have multiple team members in the same metro area, encourage them to get together. It’s up to you and your team whether that means getting together for a pull-up or heading out to a happy hour.
8. Celebrate Wins
When your team works in an office they can hit the sales gong to celebrate their wins, but how do you replicate that for remote teams? The key is to be sure that praise is immediate, specific, and publicly recognized. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Slackbots and automated emails triggered by scheduled meetings, closed deals, etc. These are a low barrier but very effective at getting the word out.
- Software like Ambition or Champ by InsightSquared which act as a virtual gong
- Recognition during pull-ups
9. Implement PDPs (personal development plans)
Invest in the long term growth of your reps by developing and implementing PDPs. This will identify their career goals both short and long term and help you put together a roadmap for your reps to get where they want to be. PDPs keep your reps engaged with their progress and inspires them to grow their skills, ultimately improving performance.
10. Get to Know Your Reps Outside of Work
It can be hard sometimes to remember there are people behind the names on your screen. Take the time to get to know your reps as a person. What are their hobbies? Do they have passions outside of sales? Do they have a family? What are their favorite TV shows? All of this helps you build a stronger relationship and will help you understand what drives your reps.
With all of these ingredients, your remote sales team should have the recipe for success.
What advice do you have for building out remote teams? How do you stay connected with employees who aren’t in the office regularly?
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