2020 has introduced many changes to the sales industry; some temporary, and others not so much.
But there’s one change that I believe will stay: how we incorporate remote work into our growth strategy.
In fact, I want to double down on that change. I see remote sales teams as more than just an alternate work arrangement—they’re a viable way of running your business. The current trend favoring remote work signals a huge opportunity for businesses strategic enough to develop a long-term plan towards working with distributed workforces.
Yet even now, in the thick of quarantine and social distancing, I still see sales VPs clinging to the mythical comfort of in-house sales teams.
“In-house teams are better quality,” they say. “They’re simpler to manage and easier to monitor.”
Not so, my friends. Not so.
What happens when you buy in
Our core values at Overpass center around a remote future, so naturally we don’t let geography prevent us from hiring the talent we need. I speak with some authority when I say that remote reps can be as good for your team as in-house reps—in fact, they’re better.
Opening up to remote roles can give you greater opportunities that are more difficult to achieve using the traditional team makeup.
More diverse candidates
Great sales reps can live anywhere and have unique living situations. When you hire for full-time and on-site, you’re deliberately limiting your options and excluding people who could be a valuable asset to your team.
Some examples of great “non-traditional” reps include:
- Stay-at-home parents who want to stay in the workforce
- Experienced sales reps looking for something part-time and flexible
- Expats living abroad who are looking for remote work opportunities
- Skilled candidates who live/want to live outside major metropolitan areas but can’t find local employers
- Retirees with a long career of sales success who still want to feel fulfillment from exercising their skills
I am a firm believer in paying people what they’re worth, but like many business owners, I am also always interested in reducing overhead costs. If you think that’s contradictory, then I will happily correct you.
Taking advantage of a remote economy provides a surprising benefit to both sales reps and sales managers. In-house hires of any kind come with associated costs of office space, equipment, and on-site training. Choosing a remote route already eliminates these expensive (and often time consuming) onboarding hassles.
Additionally, remote reps are often living in lower cost of living areas or countries where they can make a competitive wage for their location, while the businesses hiring them can get great and amazingly affordable talent relative to the local talent pool.
Because of these highly competitive rates, businesses can afford to hire more remote reps, increasing profit margins and creating more jobs and job opportunities for those who need them.
Increases your available hiring budget
Filling a sales role is a delicate act of balancing the candidate’s quality and potential versus the cost of their pay, overhead, and training requirements. As a hiring manager, I’ve often felt pressured to compromise between hiring the candidate I really want or an okay candidate who came at a lower rate. I sometimes even hesitated to hire because I wasn’t sure if we really needed someone now or if we could hold out a bit longer before going through the hiring headache.
Hiring remotely reduces this concern entirely. There’s a world of incredible talent from all industries and experience levels that I am able to choose from and invest in. By going remote, I can optimize budget and offer more attractive compensation to the right reps to keep the best people on my team for the long-haul.
Important remote shift considerations
Our remote team has been very beneficial to our company and I’m eager to work with them for a long time.
We work well together, and collaborate daily through their established sales process. Communication is essential for our team to do their best.
When looking for remote sales reps specifically, there are a few things we always screen for.
Time zone. They don’t necessarily need to be someone from within the same city—or even the same country. However, it’s important to make sure that they’re able to work the hours they are needed for the role.
Area of expertise/industry. Diversity is important, but so is the ability to do the job. The ideal remote sales rep will have experience selling in a specific industry, or have similar enough expertise that the knowledge is transferable.
Language skills. Sales is all about relationship building, so mastery of the preferred language of your prospect base is essential. Whether or not you’re comfortable with an accent may be up to your individual brand or audience reception, but language fluency is a must.
Quality of person. Work ethic. Intelligence. Integrity. Social skills. All these qualities are just as important in a remote role as they are in an on-site role.
Seize your chance
Remote salespeople are a win-win situation for all sides of the equation. They benefit from a sustainable source of income while living where and how they want, and because they aren’t forced to choose between income and lifestyle, you’ll find a team who are committed, understand your product, and are able help you achieve your financial and strategic goals—while enjoying affordable rates without overhead.
The shift to remote work is here and here to stay. Instead of waiting for our “return to normal,” sales managers should be looking at how this shift can benefit their business and define processes that let them work more collaboratively with a remote workforce.
Do you think remote is going to be a normalized part of the work experience going forward? Or do you think companies will run back to their comfort zone with on-site teams as soon as restrictions are lifted? Leave comment below with your take.