4 Keys to Keeping Your (Remote) Sales Team Productive
Posted: April 8th, 2020
With many organizations being forced to consider the possibility of remote-only work, it’s never been more important to plan for how to keep your team productive while working from home. Although this is a new challenge for many businesses, other organizations have successfully leveraged the remote mode and its benefits, for some time.
At SalesRoads, we are one of those organizations.
In fact, we’ve been entirely remote since our inception in 2006. In addition to perfecting the art of managing a remote office, we have been named a Great Place to Work 4 years running and named to the INC. 5000.
Here are our secrets to motivating and managing a completely remote sales team.
If you’re moving to a remote model, communication management is probably the first barrier that comes to mind. The reality is good communication does look different when working in a distributed environment, but that doesn’t mean good communication isn’t possible.
In fact, simply working to facilitate good communication may result in better workflows than you had in your office. A couple things to consider:
Keep Your Team in Sync With Established Meeting Rhythms:
Bonus Meetings Tip: Make a habit of recording your meetings and make them accessible to your team. This is incredibly helpful when you go back to execute on whatever work you strategized.
Best Practices: Text-Based Communication
When working in a distributed environment, text-based communication will inevitably become an essential part of your workflow. Although email and instant messengers are office mainstays, you need to be deliberate in how, and how often, you use these tools. Here are a couple things to be mindful of.
Facilitate with Visuals Whenever Possible.
Create Clear Expectations – Give people advanced heads up and clear deadlines. Although this is a best practice in any work environment, it is especially true in a remote setting as you can’t “stop by” your coworkers’ desk or nudge a gentle reminder during lunch. If you need something done on Monday, send the email on Friday (if not Thursday), or it can easily slip through the cracks.
Although most employees love the idea of working from their home office, it can be isolating if you don’t take the proper steps to ensure people feel involved and invested in as people. Things we do to build a sense of community and inclusion are:
There are pitfalls to working at home, both personal and professional. The first pitfall is not creating a professional environment that facilitates productivity. Ensure family members who are in the house understand that you are still working and ask them help eliminate distractions. Bolster yourself by creating an environment that is productive for you. Some people may choose to dress like they are heading to the office, while others prefer to dress more comfortable. Whatever your preferences, just make sure they facilitate productivity.
The other pitfall is blurring the lines between work and home. When you work from home, home can start to feel like work, and this will tax your mental health. By creating those boundaries, through your dress, environment, and interactions, you preserve the benefits of working from home while ensuring you remain productive.
There are many benefits to working from home, but it requires a certain level of trust and accountability to truly flourish. The biggest joy of work from home is the freedom it brings – the freedom from a heavy commute, the freedom to walk your dog over lunch, and the freedom to grab your kid off the bus. But this joy erodes to anxiety, for yourself and for your employees, without a culture of trust and accountability.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to build a positive culture early on, it can be nearly impossible to rectify if you try to force your previous culture into your remote environment.
Trusting my employees is something I’ve grappled with as the founder of an entirely remote company and although I have been burned before, by employees misrepresenting their hours or workload, I’ve committed to trusting my team and holding them accountable for their results. This can be a hard mental shift for executives who have become accustomed to visually verifying the efforts of their team.
So often, successful executives get in the way of their own team by trying to dictate how and when work should be done. We all know the perils of micro-managing, but the reality is we all have those tendencies and they can be exacerbated by a remote environment. Make your expectations clear, trust your team to work diligently, then get out of the way!
Accountability is the other side of trust; this is where you measure your employees’ output and hold them accountable for their work you trusted them to do. I’ve found that time and time again, my employees go the extra mile because they are personally accountable for their KPIs and performance. By making expectations clear, there is no room for excuses and, to the contrary, innovation abounds. Trust and accountability are the building blocks of your remote team. Invest in these core values for your own sanity!
Good habits are only half the battle when it comes to remote communication, you also need the right tools to collaborate in a remote office. Your exact tech stack will need to fit your organization, but some essentials for every business include:
Although there are some hurdles to managing a remote sales team, our 12+ years of success at SalesRoads demonstrates our successful commitment, We have found that not only is a remote environment entirely possible, but your employees will be happier, and in turn be more productive. Should you need help stabilizing your pipeline in a remote environment, or simply want advice on how to conduct remote sales, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or reach out at salesroads.com/contact.