If you’re an office-goer, the thought of managing or being part of a remote sales team might seem like a no-go. But my sales team has always worked this way.
Exposure Ninja’s sales team is tight-knit. We have five people in total, all working from different parts of the UK to make big waves (and big sales, of course).
The reason our sales team is so successful isn’t because of the practicalities of being remote. It’s because of our mindset.
Keeping ourselves accountable, checking in on each other for motivation, and celebrating small wins are ingrained in our sales team — so much so, we subconsciously employ the same techniques we use to survive as solo salespeople.
But for the sake of the thousands of bewildered sales professionals who may be wondering how to do their job in a very different environment, we’ve put together 12 survival tips for remote sales teams…
Namely, how to manage a successful sales team and how to sell effectively while remote.
- Celebrate small wins.
- Aim for CLEAR communication.
- Use tech to keep in touch.
- Prepare to win.
- Energize every hour.
- Create personal accountability.
- Use time blocking for tasks.
- Pair achievements with an action.
- Diversify your lead sources.
- Create an ON switch.
- Recognize good work.
- Get your head in the game.
1. Celebrate Small Wins
“Working in sales can sometimes seem like days filled with rejection. This is compounded by the potential for feeling isolated when working remotely. Taking steps to remain positive and celebrate even small successes is super important.” — Mark Rowland
As we’re adjusting to a new normal, your standard of what’s worth shouting about is bound to change. So while you might have patted yourself on the back for beating YOY sales, now, you might feel the same level of pride by converting just one lead into a sale.
Being in a remote team is about being able to find an internal motivation that comes from the recognition of small wins, rather than a larger, looming pressure.
When managing a remote team, encourage reps to give themselves shout-outs, and celebrate together no matter how big or small a win may be.
2. Aim for CLEAR Communication
“Working remotely means that we’re obviously not in the same room as our potential clients, this means many non-verbal communication elements can be missed (e.g., a grimace, leaning in). It’s therefore super important to make sure you have absolute clarity over your lead’s problem before embarking on solving it.” — Mark Rowland
Switching from verbal conversation to text-based communication can be tricky. The solution is to keep your speech as simple as possible.
Vet any emails to make sure they’re sharp, short, and to the point. If you asked a question, did you use a question mark? Did you exaggerate or play something down? You’ll need to become a much more straight-down-the-middle type of communicator to make sure your remote communications don’t get clouded.
Managers, you may need to provide some training on what good communication looks like. It could be as simple as a Zoom meeting, where you show your reps an email or InMail that works vs. one that doesn’t, and why.
3. Use Tech to Keep In Touch
“When you’re in an office it’s very easy to ask a quick question or bounce ideas with a colleague who sits close by. You can still tap into that resource by ensuring you have systems like Slack in place with specific channels set up for questions or departments. You don’t have to “see” a team member to find the answers you are looking for. Ideas meetings can still happen, too, with software like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom.” — Andrea Iliffe
How many times have you been told to download Slack? Probably one too many.
The truth is, it doesn’t really make a difference which instant messaging system you download; it’s how you use it that matters. Remote working technology is supposed to replicate everyday activities, so you have all of the same benefits out of office that you’d have if you were working side by side.
Ten-minute motivational talks. Target-focused meetings. Private conversations to talk about tough prospects. These are all reasons why you should make an effort to chat with coworkers in Slack — or any other system — as you would in the office.
Make it a point to ask quick questions, be interested in individuals, and stay connected.
4. Prepare to Win
“At the beginning of every day, plan out your most important tasks for the day and organize your calendar with every hour and for what it will be dedicated to. This will let you take control over your day and make sure you make the most of it.” — Bevan Hornsby
Successful remote sales professionals don’t just have their head in the game, they have the game planned out.
To build momentum throughout the day, you’ll want to write down and isolate your daily activities. Whether that’s talking with the team, reviewing your prospect list, or brainstorming new ideas to add to your pipeline, you should have a dedicated slot for it.
This approach helps you create a sense of structure to your day that will allow you to work in a productive break between each activity.
Managers, if you see your team’s performance slipping, ask them how they’re structuring their days. Consider doing a calendar review as part of your 1:1.
5. Energize Every Hour
“Working from home can mean there’s no need to walk over to a meeting room or see a colleague in a different part of the office. So make sure you’re getting out of your chair, at the very least, once an hour.” — Bevan Hornsby
Working remotely is a lifestyle change that can cause people to become sedentary for most of the day if they’re not careful.
Being inactive isn’t good for you, and it’s also no good for your sales role. People can spot a flat sales pitch within minutes by listening to your tone of voice, pitch and pace.
While pushing through a bunch of follow-ups is impressive, it’s better to take a quick timeout every hour to walk around the room, lift your gaze, do some stretches, and adjust your working position. Your body and sales record will thank you for it.
When managing your team, be aware that reps may not feel the same freedom to get up from their computer when they’re working remote. They may struggle with finding balance, since their home life and work life are blended. Talking these issues out can help them know you “see” the work they’re doing.
6. Create Personal Accountability
“Start your week knowing what your goal is for the week. How many calls? How many proposals? How many closes? Track your progress and reward yourself for making progress!” — Wayne Dharana
Just as we celebrate small successes, we set small goals. Or rather, we get to celebrate small successes as a result of small goal-setting.
In remote sales, there’s no public leaderboard to keep you accountable or a sales manager breathing down your neck. The get-up-and-go attitude will need to be generated by your drive to succeed rather than a fear of failure (and looking stupid in front of your coworkers).
In this spirit, small goals shouldn’t be scary; they should be stretchy — just enough to challenge you, but not enough to break you.
7. Use Time Blocking for Tasks
“When working from home in a sales capacity, it’s VITAL you manage your time and tasks well. ‘Chunk’ your time and spend the same time each day working on certain tasks — e.g., 10am–11am follow-up, 12pm–1pm creating proposals.” — Wayne Dharana
Using time blocking now and then isn’t as effective as using it every day.
Our star sales members create rigid schedules with plenty of repetition in their routine. This helps them to psychologically block tasks and get into the right mind frame for the task ahead.
Your schedule will depend on your preferences. For example, if you work best in the early afternoon after some fuel, set important “brain consuming” tasks (like creating proposals) after lunch, when you’ll be at your most efficient. Set more menial tasks (like quick follow-up emails) for periods where you won’t find it so easy to get into the flow of things.
8. Pair Achievements with an Action
“Use a tool such as ToDoist to manage daily and weekly tasks. That way, you won’t miss things, but more importantly, you get the satisfaction of checking daily tasks off as you complete them. This can give a great sense of progress and help you keep motivated!” — Wayne Dharana
Our behavior is much more advanced than that of a dog, yet training ourselves to do the right thing isn’t all that different from training a dog to respond to a command. Classical conditioning — pairing an action or sound with an event — works on humans as well as dogs.
It will be much easier to build positive habits and continue to tick off tasks by implementing classical conditioning. You can do this in the form of a virtual tick list or a well-deserved five-minute break each time you complete a piece of work.
Whatever it is, make sure you do it in sync with the achievement to begin to create a mental association. Over time, you’ll learn that finishing a task feels good and allows you to confirm your achievements in some form of visual or physical manner.
Managers, consider creating a “Ring the Bell” Slack channel where team members can upload a meme when they make a sale or hit a goal.
9. Diversify Your Lead Sources
“Have a powerful remote lead generation process in place. This could be something like ad campaigns, a strong SEO campaign, social media or webinars. Relying on networking alone can present a higher risk at a time like this. The more diverse the lead sources and the wider your sales funnel, the better.” — Ali Newton
Making a sudden switch to remote work — and remote lead generation — can spell disaster or a great opportunity.
If you continue to rely on networking to bring worthwhile prospects your way (especially at a time where you can’t network in-person), you’ll start to see your sales funnel dry out. It’s important to develop other ways of attracting interest, so you can find leads from all over the world.
Make sure you train your team in the best ways to interact with prospects in a crisis situation. This could make or break their ability to hit their numbers.
Depending on your position in the sales team, building a lead generation process may not be your responsibility, but you’ll certainly earn brownie points with your boss if you pitch in during a tough time.
10. Create an ON Switch
“Start the week by listening to a colleague’s call or pitch. It’s a great way to shake the ‘cold’ feeling from the weekend and get back into the mindset of being ready to rock. There are also great opportunities to pick up new tips and phrases along the way.” — Ali Newton
The hardest part of the week is the same for a remote worker as it is for any office worker — Monday morning. To be as effective as possible, you need to make sure you’re mentally in the game as soon as the workday starts.
That means you’ll need to create your own “on” switch that isn’t your boss’s briefing, your colleagues quizzing you about the weekend, or the constant pressure to make it to the office on time.
Listening to audio clips of coworkers and simulating the office environment is the best and easiest way to shake off that Sunday feeling.
11. Recognize Good Work
“Sharing is caring. In an office environment, it’s easy to overhear the calls colleagues are making. This can speed up the learning process. In a remote environment, this isn’t always so easy. It’s great to encourage your team to share calls that went well. A simple way of doing this can be to create a ‘Hall of Fame’ where the recordings of successful calls are added each time the sale is closed. This makes for a great bank of inspiration and great training material for new starts.” — Ali Newton
Recognizing our small wins is one thing. Recognizing others’ is perhaps even more important.
Remote sales managers should make sharing sessions a key part of their weekly agenda and actively seek good work to shout about. This strategy helps your sales team coach each other on the best pitching and closing techniques — and create a sense of belonging within your team.
If you aren’t a senior in sales, you don’t have to shy away from this tip. Sending a quick Slack message to congratulate someone on closing a deal or nominating your coworkers in private is a great way to strengthen your remote relationships.
12. Get Your Head in the Game
“Consider taking a moment before you start your day to picture your desired outcomes and what you will do to achieve them. Think about what it will feel like when you achieve it. It might sound crazy, but this technique is used by Michael Phelps and other Olympic athletes. It’s used because it works.” — Ali Newton
However it’s easiest for you to zone in — meditation, affirmations, journaling, adding to a vision board — this step is the most important for successful remote work over the long-haul.
Whether you work in sales — or any other department — having a clear vision and path to success will allow you to overcome whatever obstacles arise when working remotely.
It’s up to you to figure out the reason why you wake up and go to work every day. Any reason is valid — spending more time with your family, working around your own schedule, making other people happy, believing in the product or service you’re selling — so long as you make a mental note of it each day before you start.
Leaderboards, high-fives, and boardroom meetings may now be a distant memory for you and your team. Without a sense of in-person support and healthy competition, how will you fair? Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it may seem.
To survive in remote sales, you’ll need to:
- Become self-sufficient by figuring out how to find internal motivation.
- Get more organized and use time to your advantage.
- Be kinder to yourself and celebrate the small things.
- Make small talk even when you don’t have an opportune moment.
- Find out your reason why, so you can visualize and materialize it.