Managing a field sales team remotely is no easy feat. Keeping on top of progress and communication can be tricky with various targets to hit and multiple team members to manage.
The good news is that in today’s climate, companies are much better equipped to work remotely. With so many businesses forced to work remotely because of the pandemic, communication tools have improved, and remote teams are working together better than ever.
That’s not to say there aren’t still challenges to overcome, but the overall functionality of a remote team has certainly improved over the last couple of years.
So what exactly can you do to make sure you manage and coach your remote sales team effectively?
It all depends on the type of people you’re working with, the methods of communication you’re using, and the way you’re managing and tracking work. Having said that, there are some best practices you can follow to make sure you’re managing your remote team in the best way possible.
So keep reading to familiarize yourself with our four best practices to manage and coach a remote field sales team, starting with open communication.
1. Encourage Open Communication
If you don’t have open communication with your sales reps, it’ll be hard for you to manage them effectively. You could struggle to get the full picture of what’s going on in their day-to-day work, and they might feel unsure about approaching you with any dilemmas.
So you need open communication to build trust and offer support to your field sales team. This will help you manage them better and inspire a culture of open communication.
But how exactly can you encourage open communication with a remote field sales team?
Here’s what we’d suggest:
Schedule Regular Team Meetings
27% of salespeople say that the lack of internal meetings is one of the challenges to achieving their sales goals, so set time aside to have regular virtual meetings with your field sales team.
These meetings allow everyone to provide updates and discuss any issues they have.
They’re also a great chance for everyone to socialize. The sole purpose should be to discuss work, but socializing solidifies relationships between yourself and the field sales team. As a result, you’re fostering an environment of open and honest communication.
Host Regular 1:1 Meetings
In addition to team meetings, it’s useful also to schedule regular 1:1 meetings with your sales reps.
With a remote team, you simply don’t get the same face-to-face interaction you would in an office. You can’t just pop by their desk for a chat and a check-in on how their day’s going.
So you need to put in extra effort to build these relationships with individual reps, and one way to do that is to have regular 1:1s. They don’t have to be every week, but just make sure to plan some time where you can catch up with your field sales team individually.
Not only will this help the field sales team feel supported in their work, but it gives you a chance to address any issues directly with the salesperson (this can be pretty tricky in a group meeting).
Use Simple But Versatile Communication Tools
39% of remote workers say their company could have better communication platforms.
You need simple but versatile tools that make communication and collaboration easy for remote teams to encourage open communication.
Take a look at Slack, for example. The platform allows team members to quickly communicate via instant messaging.
Not to mention, it can also be used on mobile, which is pretty handy if your sales rep is on the road or out on a sales call. With Slack, they can communicate with their mobile device no matter where they are.
Users can also share files and images directly on the platform and integrate with third-party tools.
So you can see how easy it is for field sales teams to communicate with the right platforms in place. If you’re using a platform that’s not intuitive, your team will have a harder time staying in touch.
And that’s why you need a communication platform that’s easy to use and versatile for remote workers. It encourages open communication and allows you to better manage your team.
Consider Asynchronous Communication
Rounding everyone up at the same time is a tricky task for a remote field sales team. With various client meetings and deadlines, everyone isn’t always available at the same time.
If you’re struggling to get your remote field sales team available at the same time for an online meeting, consider using asynchronous communication.
Async communication is a way for teams to communicate without needing an immediate response. Simply put, it allows teams to communicate at different times.
Take a look at Yac as an example of an asynchronous communication platform:
Using a variety of features, including voice messaging and screen recordings, teams can easily share updates and have meetings asynchronously. Not to mention, recipients can respond whenever it suits them.
And by having access to voice messaging, team members can provide context to their messages and make everything as clear as possible. Much easier than writing out a super long email, don’t you think?
So if you’re struggling to get your team to communicate openly, async communication could be a good solution. You can have meetings and conversations with your field sales team whenever it suits them, and everyone can respond to messages and updates in their own time.
2. Use The Right Work Management Tools
If you’re using tools that aren’t right for your team, productivity can take a hit. 21% of salespeople say that clunky and outdated systems are one of the challenges they face when it comes to reaching targets.
So let’s look at a real-life example of a remote business using effective work management tools.
Due to its remote nature, the company needs to have the right collaborative tools and platforms in place — and not just for its field sales team. This applies to the entire business.
Here are some of the tools Codeless uses to manage its remote workflow:
- LastPass: An online password manager that allows remote workers to access company platforms with a browser extension. Workers only need to remember one password to access all company platforms.
- ClickUp: A cloud-based work management platform that allows Codeless to track all of its work and encourage collaboration between the field sales team and writers.
- Slack: An internal communication channel for the field sales team, writers, and anyone else who’s part of the Codeless team.
- Google Drive: Teams collaborate on documents saved in the online storage platform, Google Drive.
- MarketMuse: To ensure that its articles are optimized, Codeless uses content optimization software like MarketMuse.
You can see how many platforms the company needs to ensure its remote work runs as smoothly as possible.
To make life easier for you and your field sales team, make sure to find the right software. This could mean using multiple platforms for various functions, but it’s up to you to find what works best for your remote sales team.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Spotio. Our platform helps remote sales teams track and manage sales and leads.
It’s a great way for managers to keep on top of how the sales team is performing without micromanaging.
3. Set Goals and Targets
Goals and targets keep your remote sales team motivated and accountable for their actions.
Studies also show that top-performing salespeople are motivated by a competitive drive, so it doesn’t hurt to have something for your field sales team to work toward.
When it comes to creating goals for your field sales team, there’s a fine line between being unrealistic and helping your team achieve their full potential. The best way to tread this line is to create SMART goals.
If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, it’s a framework designed to help businesses set achievable goals. It’s broken down as follows:
Using the SMART framework gives you a better chance of setting realistic goals that will help your sales team hit their targets and grow your business in the process.
Let’s use an example.
Imagine your goal is to increase revenue in the next quarter. Here’s how this would look as a SMART goal:
Increase revenue by 20% by the end of 2022 Q1 by offering a 5% discount for new customers.
You can find out more about setting SMART goals here. And if you need some inspiration for the types of measurements and goals you should set, take a look at what other companies have been measuring.
This study shows that measurements vary by country. But in the U.S., achieving sales quotas and progress to hit revenue targets are the most common goals set.
The goals that you choose to create will depend on what your business wants to achieve, how your salespeople are performing, and the trends in your marketplace.
4. Coach Your Team By Offering Support and Guidance
As a manager, it’s your job to help your team grow and develop in their roles. Without your support, members of your team might plateau with their skills.
Research also shows that knowledge of product, industry, and customer needs are the most important aspects of a high-performing salesperson.
So if you want to keep hitting targets and growing the business, it’s important that their knowledge and skills continually improve.
But how can you coach a remote sales team?
Being remote comes with coaching challenges, but it’s certainly doable. You just have to know where to start.
Take a look at our suggestions for some inspiration:
- Provide helpful resources: Sharing helpful information and resources is a great way to support your team. You can share links to articles, videos, webinars, anything that has useful and practical advice about selling or the marketplace.
- Invest in online training: To develop their skills as salespeople, you can enroll your reps in online training courses. This will allow them to develop their skills from the comfort of their own homes.
- Offer specific feedback: Providing tailored feedback is vital when helping your sales team improve. It gives each sales rep insight into their areas of improvement rather than focusing on general topics that might not be specific to them. Spend some time reviewing their pipelines and identifying where they can improve.
Use Spotio to Work With Your Remote Sales Team
By now, you should have a good idea as to the best practices you can follow to effectively manage your field sales team. You know how to encourage open communication, how to use the right work management tools, and the importance of setting goals and targets.
And if you want to take your management to the next level, you know that you can offer support and coaching to your field sales team to develop their skills and knowledge.
Before you put your newfound skills into action, take a look at Spotio.
Using our software, your field sales team can effectively manage and track their leads and sales from one platform. Not to mention, you can also monitor how things are going without having to micromanage.
About the Author
Brad Smith is the Founder of Codeless (a content production agency) and CEO at Wordable.io. His content has been highlighted by The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and thousands more.