For one, many managers feel like they don’t need to manage a remote team (at least in the traditional sense of the word). So they don’t invest a lot of time or effort into the remote workers or think about applying a remote-friendly process.
But that’s going to come back to bite you. Teams suffer when managers don’t invest. Especially sales teams, which are more prone to volatile changes when a company scales up or down.
Invest in them from the beginning
Everyone wants to be successful, whether that’s your sales team, your marketing department, or your assistant. People who are invested in the work they do want to know their employer is similarly doing all they can to unblock barriers to success.
Your sales people want to bring in great numbers (and get the commission that comes with it), and you want to grow your business.
Your goals are aligned; so why wouldn’t you want to invest in them?
Don’t, and they’ll start looking for someone who will.
What does that investment look like?
Investing in your remote team looks similar to managing in any other capacity. Focus on specific ways to help them succeed.
Set realistic goals together
There are three important words there: “realistic,” “goals,” and “together.”
All three need to co-exist. You first need goals to help the sales rep assess whether or not they’re making progress. Goals like targets and following process set expectations and establish a benchmark of success.
Keeping goals realistic but ambitious keeps the sales rep motivated. It’s a delicate balance. Make the goal too aggressive and the rep will get discouraged and lose steam. Make it too easy, and the rep will coast and not give it his very best.
Last point, is do it together. Working together gives the sales rep the agency to influence their own career path. This is incredibly motivating and will provide more benefit to you and the company in the long run than the dollar value of their goal.
Train your team
I’ve said this before elsewhere, but it seems I need to keep saying it.
Your remote sales reps need just as much training as your on-site sales reps.
Give them the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. Give them information about the product and about your company, but don’t just dump a bunch of brochures on them and expect them to soak it all up.
Guide them. Give them the opportunity to ask questions. Test their knowledge.
When it comes to actual sales training, lead by example. Be a coach, not a critic. Take the time to show them what you want and the procedures you expect them to follow.
Keep training your team
While managers do remember to give remote reps their initial training, they almost never continue after the first few weeks.
The effect? Gaps in their knowledge that can seriously affect current and future performance. Lack of follow-through that fails to catch bad habits, which grow and fester.
Use monitoring tools and other software to track your remote sales reps’ growth and to address any weaknesses in their performance. Evaluate their progress over time, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of improvement they show.
Be involved and available
Even remote sales reps need someone to talk to; and who better to talk to about their day than their manager?
Don’t wait for your remote sales rep to ask to talk to you (by then it’s too late). Instead, be proactive and schedule regular 1:1s. Have daily group check-ins so that the team knows you’re invested in their success. And while it’s hard to have an “open door” policy while you’re working remotely, give them unfettered access to your calendar and give them the link to your personal Zoom account.
Give your team agency
Contrary to possible belief, it is possible to manage a remote team without micro-managing. When you micro-manage, you remove any sense of control or agency that a remote team has over their own performance, goals, and even daily schedule.
If you trust your team enough to hire them, then you should be able to trust them enough to give them room to operate. Let them come up with their own scripts. Let them set their own priorities. More importantly, give them the liberty to make their own mistakes--and learn from them.
Compensate them fairly
Being a team means sharing in both challenges and successes.
Provide fair compensation for your team, and always deliver on promised commissions, bonuses, and incentives. They will be more encouraged to do their best for you if they know that their efforts will be rewarded.
Management isn't that different remotely.
When you really stop to think about it, remote management isn’t all that different from on-site management.
Like on-site, remote teams want to be included in your plans and make an impact on the organization.
Like on-site, remote sales reps need goals and direction in order to properly focus their efforts.
Like on-site, remote employees need to be properly trained--both initially and continuously--in order to grow in both skill and effectiveness.
And, like on-site, a remote sales rep who is given all of the above will be more likely to stay with the company and provided greater and greater value to your organization.
Have you adjusted your management style for remote? What changed or stayed the same? Leave your ideas below.