Companies around the globe are asking employees to work from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet many global firms are not prepared for a remote workforce. And when it comes to sales teams, remote work presents a unique set of challenges for sales managers tasked with leading geographically dispersed teams. Sales teams are built on camaraderie and competition, which is difficult to manufacture remotely. Sales teams these days also face additional barriers to productivity. Corporate travel restrictions mean less contact with prospects, with the industry, and with the market. As companies cancel events and trade shows, reps have fewer opportunities to connect with prospects and peers. Managers have fewer chances to do ride-alongs with reps, leading to significantly reduced opportunities for learning, reinforcement, and coaching. While the right technology can make remote work more accessible across different countries and time zones, 54% of HR leaders in a recent Gartner snap poll indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to effective remote working. Fortunately, there are several tactics that managers can wield to lead their remote teams. To ensure that your reps work at peak capacity despite travel restrictions, focus on actionable ways to boost sales productivity no matter where they are.

9 Steps to Drive Remote Sales Productivity

Here are nine ways you can use modern sales-readiness platforms to coach, communicate, and collaborate with your remote sales teams more effectively.

  1. Prospecting

One of the biggest challenges associated with travel restrictions is the lack of face-to-face interaction with prospects. Events around the world where salespeople were hoping to meet up have been canceled. In some cases, either the rep or the prospect (or both) must work from home.

Pro Tip: Supplement phone calls with pre-recorded video introductions and demos to interact in a more personal way. Be aware of language and localize key messages whenever possible.

  1. Coaching

Insufficient coaching interactions between managers and reps is one of the greatest obstacles to productivity. One option is to have sales reps practice their pitch in a safe environment and receive coaching instead of practicing on customers. Whether for an existing product or service, or a new offering, sales reps can record practice videos, share with managers or peers, and get feedback to refine messaging and delivery.

Pro Tip: Use mobile access and video sharing technology to extend managers’ reach, maximize time, and accomplish as much or more as they normally could during a ride-along.

  1. Onboarding

It’s a challenging time to be recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding. But you must continue to build your team. Whether you’re hiring new reps or shifting existing ones into new roles, reducing the time it takes to get new hires ramped and productive is critical. Instead of flying new hires into corporate, have them watch videos, practice their pitches, learn your company’s systems, get to know the executive team, and receive coaching and feedback from their location.

Pro Tip: Equip your new hires with the ability to practice, self-correct, and receive coaching and feedback to perfect their delivery.

  1. Sales Meetings

Companies rely on annual or quarterly kickoffs to align reps on messaging and introduce new products. Instead of live meetings, hold some or all of the meetings virtually via video. Replace live classroom training with video training and certification. Record presentations in the form of voiceover PowerPoints and share them with the team.

Pro Tip: Use this format to shorten presentations and allow viewers to interact and collaborate regarding the content.

  1. Collaboration

Help free up managers’ schedules and scale-up content sharing by encouraging peer-to-peer collaboration. Enabling high performers to share best practices with others eases the burden of coaching for managers while increasing the velocity in which new ideas are adopted by the field. Use easily accessible video content with interactive feedback to make peer collaboration most effective.

Pro Tip: Use video and PowerPoint together to share prospect stories, bounce ideas off of colleagues, and brainstorm asynchronously across space and time.

  1. Feedback

Managing a remote sales team requires steady, consistent, two-way communication. Your reps need to hear from you frequently and vice-versa. Create effective lines of communication to hear and send feedback to your remote team.

Pro Tip: Share regular check-in videos and have reps give daily pipeline updates.

  1. Product Launch

Video can also help ramp up sales teams on new products as well as product line mergers. Whether for an existing product or service or a new offering, have sales reps record practice videos to share with managers or peers, then receive coaching and feedback to ensure consistent messaging and objection handling.

Pro Tip: Encourage sales reps to practice in private to refine messaging and allow for self- assessment prior to sharing.

  1. Market Updates

Real-time market updates are important in many industries, particularly financial services. Push updates to your sales and services teams so that they are prepared to answer questions and reassure your customers that your company can weather the storm.

Pro Tip: Have these messages come from your CEO, CRO, investment officers, product manager, or other subject matter expert.

  1. Activity Tracking

Your remote sales reps need direction and clear expectations in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly output. Measure training activity to learn which reps are completing messaging, certification, or training courses. Set clear benchmarks for them to hit.

Pro Tip: Set a weekly goal for reps to record two practice pitch videos. Reward rep achievement to reinforce positive behaviors.

Adopt the Right Technology

When it comes to remote sales productivity, a technology that is a good fit for your business is critical. Ensure that every member of your team is equipped with quality devices, software, and network connections that will allow them to work without issue.

Managing a remote team of sales reps is a unique challenge but with the right strategy, managers can succeed. Make sure you’re providing your reps with the tools, knowledge, and skills they each need to be successful. The challenges of the current situation may feel overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to get new hires up to speed and maintain productivity in uncertain times.  – Source: Allego

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