Guide to Managing a Remote Sales Workforce
10 Apr 2018
Those with experience managing a sales workforce in a traditional office environment may feel uneasy about taking on the task of managing a sales team scattered all over the map. The truth is that in terms of management and planning, there is ultimately very little distinguishing a local team from a remote one. Managing a remote sales workforce comes down to giving employees the means to do outstanding work and the guidance to push towards a common goal.
Remote Sales Workforce
Here is a basic guide for managers about to lead a remote sales team for the first time:
Use Cloud Collaboration Software
While many of the attributes of the traditional office are anachronistic, a few retain their importance. The very existence of space in which sales personnel can share ideas and work on projects together is definitely an attribute that companies still need. This is why companies with a remote sales workforce will often use a cloud collaboration tool as a virtual replacement. It gives remote workers space to essentially stay on the same page with one another at any given moment. That way, a scattered sales workforce isn’t stuck guessing what members of the team are working on and how the bigger picture is developing.
Develop a Team Bond
Another benefit of utilizing a collaboration tool is the ability for a remote sales workforce to maintain a sense of camaraderie with one another. It’s too easy to disassociate from one another when the only way we communicate is through email. Managers have to be keenly aware of the need for remote sales personnel to have moments on the clock where they are reminded they are part of a team. This makes them feel valued and therefore more likely to stay motivated despite minimal direct oversight by management.
Set Clear Goals
The concept of working remotely is often associated with increased autonomy on the part of the salesperson. After all, the individual is essentially their own on-site boss. Yet sales personnel in faraway places need clearly defined goals if a company wants to keep the entire outfit in sync. Rather than list these goals out in an initial phase meeting and hope everyone remembers, take time to have one-on-ones with the remote workforce to ensure each individual knows what their specific mission is in achieving the grand goal of the company.
Communicate with Clarity and Patience
This is an especially important thing to keep in mind for those managing a remote sales workforce located in several countries. Sharing ideas succinctly and explaining new information to personnel with clarity is an art that takes years to master. Be patient with employees who seem confused or misled by management instructions. Without the visual cues of real life, it’s hard for people to truly know the context of language. Compensate for that by forming a habit where you analyze your communications from the other end. Does it make sense from their point of view? If it seems hazy, consider a new draft or approach.
Maintain a Company Culture
The hardest thing for a business consisting of remote sales workers to develop is a strong company culture. However, it’s perhaps the most important part of the entire package as far as management is concerned. A defined company culture helps to promote a self-policing mentality among sales teams, critical in a remote setting. Fortunately for new managers of a remote sales workforce, developing a company culture can be done with steps similar to those found in traditional workplace environments. Have a core set of values the company abides by – and making sure management also abides by them – will set in motion the growth of further aspects of a company culture.
While there are definite differences, management of a remote sales workforce is not an alien concept to those more familiar with traditional sales floor settings. Ensure workers have the resources they need, set the framework for productivity, and patch where needed. Tie it all together with a strong and sensible management style to lead a strong remote sales workforce into the sunrise of success.
Featured Image: Flickr