Best Tools for Managing Remote Sales Teams
Remote working went from being a trend appealing largely to Millennial talent to a necessity for all types of organizations due to the COVID-19 work-at-home mandate.
Now more than ever, working remotely and hosting virtual meetings might make all the difference to your company’s future. Said another way – it’s the new normal.
As a sales leader, how do you manage remote teams? What are the best tools for remote teams? What are the actual benefits of working remotely?
I’ll answer those questions and more in this article.
But first, let me tell you about my experience with remote teams. I’m the Chief Visibility Officer and one of the co-founders at Vengreso.
Vengreso has always been a remote company. We have employees all around the world (Europe, Asia, North and South America). So we know what works.
Not only that but as a digital selling training company, 90% of our training is online. We combine On Demand virtual training with live virtual training and coaching sessions to make sure that our clients get the most out of – and retain what they learn – in their training sessions. This method is known as Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT).
Let’s dig in.
Managing Remote Sales Teams
There are many things you can do to manage a remote sales team effectively, but the pillar of it all is communication — group chats, email, phone, text, video, whatever is required.
You must stay in touch because you don’t have the option of hanging out by the water cooler or going out to lunch together.
At Vengreso, we use video calls constantly, so we can see each other’s faces, body language and hand gestures. This is how we communicate every day. Yes, we have voice calls, send emails, and text each other, but they just don’t have the same impact.
Additionally, we have a virtual watercolor via Zoom, for all Vengresonians, the second Friday of each month. It’s a time to bond and talk about stuff that’s not work-related. It is said that water cooler talk in the break rooms are known as “gossip hubs,” but it’s also the birthplace of fresh, new ideas that have made companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Other general recommendations for managing a remote sales team include:
- Establish clear goals and expectations for each remote seller and follow up on progress regularly.
- Schedule virtual coaching sessions.
- Hold meetups, where sales reps and others from the company can stay connected as a team.
- Build trust and reward top performers as they meet and exceed KPIs.
- Invest in tools and solutions to help sellers do their job virtually.
Now let’s look more closely at those tools.Communication is the pillar of managing a #remote sales team. Learn how to stay up to date with your remote #sales team and what communication #tools to use from @LinkedInExpert. Click To Tweet
Essential Tools for Remote Sales Teams
For sales leaders who are managing a remote team for the first time, it can be a challenging experience. Luckily, we’ve been doing it here at Vengreso for three years. During that time, we found the tools that are essential for remote teams to succeed.
While these tools enable better internal communication, some of them offer even more value for sales teams in their daily selling activities, especially as they leverage social selling techniques. For example, one such tool enables sellers to display a professional background on video calls (even if they’re sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of dirty dishes behind them).
Below are some essential tools to help remote sales teams maintain effectiveness.
Besides email, you should have instant communication tools that keep conversations flowing in real-time, such as:
- Google Hangouts
Many sales reps have worked remotely for years (at least part-time), whether it was from conferences, hotel rooms, lobbies, or even their kids’ soccer games. To stay in communication with leadership, clients, and prospects, they’ve been using many productivity tools whether from the road or in the office.
Now, these tools are essential as everyone works from home. Some of these tools include:
- Time-tracking apps
- Project management apps
- File collaboration and sharing apps
- Sales trackers
- Password managers
This is definitely an incomplete list, as there are many other tools available. But this list is a great place to start if you don’t already have them for your team.
Video Conferencing Tools for Sales Teams
When working remotely, video is essential. To properly communicate and understand each other, we need to see nonverbal cues, such as hand gestures and facial expressions. In fact, according to research, roughly 60% of communication is facial and 40% is vocal.
Plus, video allows you to build a connection with someone else (whether a direct report or a prospect) faster than a voice call. That’s why our standard at Vengreso is video calls, whether internal or external.
There are many video conferencing platforms out there. Currently, Zoom is the most popular and the market leader, both for its ease of use and its speed (latency stays under 150 milliseconds so conversations feel natural).
Zoom has other great features like a virtual background option to “change” your location, a ‘touch-up my appearance’ feature to subtly smooth and filter fine lines and dark circles, and the ability to switch from mobile to desktop or any other device during a meeting without skipping a beat. Zoom also allows a seller to share content whether it’s on their desktop or their mobile device. This is very useful during sales conversations.
Before you turn on Zoom, though, make sure you have the right equipment to stream video. Here’s the tech I use in my home studio for my communication with coworkers and clients. The whole setup will cost you less than $500!Teach your sellers how to use the #virtual background option in @zoom_us to “change” your location and look more professional when #WorkingFromHome @LinkedInExpert #DigitalSelling Click To Tweet
Some computers come with a built-in camera. And as with anything, some are better than others. Don’t let your sellers rely on their computer’s built-in camera. Instead, recommend they buy an external camera for consistently better results.
I use a Logitech Camera, which is a full HD webcam great for streaming and video recording, but there are many other options available. I recommend you choose one that has full HD and is great for streaming and recording. So, if that one is out of stock, look for others that meet those requirements.
Just like with cameras, there are many choices when it comes to microphones, ranging from very cheap to expensive, pro-level mics. Your sellers do not need the most expensive microphone, but they do need to ensure that it is quality and that it works reliably.
My choice for video conferencing is the Audio-Technica Mic. It’s a handheld microphone that I place on a stand by my computer for easy access.
Additionally, I sometimes use the Logitech Headset for bad hair days! And as many sellers are dealing with kids, spouses, and pets in the background, having a headset will reduce the background noise that would otherwise get picked up.
Sometimes your home office doesn’t provide the most professional background for your business meetings. That’s where green screens come in. You can use them to change the background for any image you’d like: from a fancy office to a tropical beach.
Why use a green screen? Because:
- It’s visually appealing (better than a white wall or a messy office).
- You eliminate the home office distractions (kids, spouses, and pets).
- You can add logos or key messages to the background to engage with your clients.
- Sellers can upload any images, including a prospect’s logo or website to illustrate their focus on delivering a solution to that buyer.
Work with marketing to develop some custom background images that align with your brand and messaging. In the meantime, Zoom offers a variety of standard backgrounds your sellers can use. They even have options that don’t require a green screen.
One of the biggest challenges of video calls is getting your lighting just right. Often, people look like silhouettes because of open windows or other lights behind them. Or they have weird shadows because their dining room table wasn’t designed to hold virtual sales calls.
To address these issues, I recommend your sellers getting a dimmable LED ring light to properly light themselves during video calls. This is essential for sales calls to maintain their professional appearance.
3 Benefits of Working Remotely
According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, 73% of all teams will have remote employees by 2028.
Remote work is not the future, but the present. Thirty percent of workers leave their job because it doesn’t offer flexible work options. Another study showed that 80% said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
Old-school thinking prevents some companies from working with remote teams. Now, we don’t have an option. Luckily, there are plenty of benefits to remote work for both you as a leader and for the individual seller.
1. Improved Health
Health is on everyone’s mind right now. But even before the coronavirus, remote employees experienced improved health.
- Crowded offices can be conducive to the spread of infectious diseases.
- Office politics and peer pressure can have negative effects on mental health.
In fact, remote employees reported up to 25% less stress when working from home and they exercise more often than office workers.
2. Better Performance
Various experiments show that remote workers are more productive than office workers. For instance, one Chinese company divided its workers in two groups, one working at HQ and the other at home. The remote workers had a productivity boost equivalent to a full day’s work, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.
As a sales leader, you know that sellers have worked remotely at least part-time and are, in essence, CEOs of their own company. They are responsible for generating revenue and should be able to work from anywhere. Hence, you want to provide them with access to the tools they need to succeed.
3. Increased Productivity
Remote teams are an average of 35-40% more productive than on-site teams. Here are more numbers:
- Remote employees work 1.4 more days every month than those in an office.
- Remote workers waste less time than office workers in distractions (27 minutes per day vs 37 minutes per day)
- Remote workers report being less distracted by their bosses than office workers.
Remote work allows sellers to spend more time with family, not only because they’re at home but because there’s no commuting time. In fact, according to one survey, roughly 25% of respondents said they had left a job for another because of a long commute. At Vengreso, we have employees who were previously commuting two hours each way to work. By working remotely, they’re saving four hours a day!
To us at Vengreso, the math is easy: Better Health + Better Performance = Increased Productivity.There are benefits to #RemoteWork. The math is easy: Better Health + Better Performance = Increased Productivity. Learn how to manage your remote #sales team via @LinkedInExpert Click To Tweet
Train Your Remote Sales Team to Sell More
The buying process has changed even more in the current environment. The modern buyer seeks information digitally about how to solve their business challenges. To adapt and meet the demands of the modern buyer, sellers must leverage digital platforms to find, engage, and connect with buyers. This is even more important now as we all face unexpected, challenging circumstances.
Sales leaders should provide their sellers with the tools they need to maintain their productivity and performance while working remotely now and in the future. By implementing a modern selling approach, your sales organization shares content, builds relationships, and nurtures prospects through digital platforms.
Discover how our Selling with LinkedIn® for Teams On Demand training leverages the neuroscience benefits of virtual, instructor-led training to equip your sellers to create more sales conversations with qualified prospects.