As companies continue to return to the office, the demand for remote work is unlikely to disappear.
Even before COVID-19, remote work was gradually gaining popularity. In 2019, 3.9 million workers in the US were operating remotely. In 2020, that number increased to 4.7 million employees.
However, just because working at a distance is becoming more common, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges.
One study from OnPoint Consulting examined 50 remote teams and found that around 27% weren’t performing at their best. That means one in four of your team members likely aren’t thriving in their remote environment.
The question is, how do you overcome this problem to create the alignment that your employees so desperately need to accomplish their goals?
Let’s look at five simple steps to do just that.
Step 1: Make the Right Tech Choices
Let’s face it. Remote working wouldn’t be possible without the right tech. However, there’s more to establishing the right tech stack for your employees than making sure they have plenty of bandwidth.
To keep your team members as productive and engaged as possible in this new environment, you need to create a world where they can access documents on the cloud, track their progress, and collaborate with team members.
CRO technology (Customer Revenue Optimization) and CRM tools (Customer relationship management) give sales teams the opportunity to track every step of the customer journey. When your employees can visually see where each lead is within the sales cycle, they can adapt their strategies according to that person’s individual needs.
Additionally, the right technology can:
- Guide teams to the best practices for a particular opportunity
- Encourage employee engagement through gamification and playful competition
- Provide insights so that employees feel informed and supported
According to our latest research on sales pipelines, both before and after COVID-19, the shift from offline to online is accelerating. This trend is likely to continue even after COVID is in our rearview mirrors. Make sure you continue to have access to the right digital tools for Sales because that’s where everything is moving.
Step 2: Stress the Value of Communication
Communication is essential to the human condition. It’s how we stay connected, informed, and engaged. While many remote employees have learned what it takes to survive on their own, others can feel isolated and uncomfortable at a distance.
Employees need to stay connected in a remote environment. Otherwise, they end up with a disjointed vision of the company’s aims and needs.
Regular communication keeps everyone on the same page and helps your sales teams stay happy and productive.
For instance, when COVID-19 hit and many sales teams were forced to work from home without proper preparation. Some workers who were new to remote work felt as though out of sight also meant out of mind, and many teams struggled to maintain productivity.
Avoid this by taking the initiative to keep your team connected.
Think about the different modes of communication your employees might need.
- Conferencing tools to discuss sales objectives and strategies
- Collaboration services like real-time instant messaging
- Video conferencing for face-to-face conversations with your colleagues and prospects
Consider offering training for your employees on how and when to use each mode of communication. For instance, instant messaging might be suitable for a quick chat, but it may not be the best choice for discussing a complex lead issue.
Step 3: Assess and Update Critical Processes
The strategies you used to enhance and maintain sales in the past might not work when you’re running your remote team.
If you’re switching to a largely remote strategy, it might be time to reassess your processes. Ask yourself whether anything needs to be updated.
For instance, with many offices shut down due to COVID, it doesn’t make sense to call your prospect’s office. Instead, you might need to have your reps reach out to leads through social media and email.
If you’re not sure where to start adapting your sales strategies, use your CRM and CRO tools to monitor your remote workers’ performance. These tools should give you a quick insight into what’s happening with your deals and sales pipelines right now.
Are there any gaps in your strategy or roadblocks that you need to consider?
When asked about the COVID situation, Mark Roberge, the Managing Director of Stage 2 Capital said, “When the outer context shifts, rapid adaptation is necessary.” In other words, companies need to make sure that they understand their value proposition and how it relates to new customer pain points.
This will continue to be crucial in the post-COVID world.
Step 4: Check in and Document Regularly
We mentioned above how dangerous the out of sight, out of mind idea can be in a remote team. And while it’s important not to micromanage your remote sales teams — you shouldn’t make them feel as though you don’t trust them by constantly checking in — you do need to stay in touch.
Checking in on a weekly basis with a group video conference, or discussing your team’s sales efforts, can make a huge difference.
While you’re checking in, don’t forget to document what you learn.
Keeping track of everything is critical in a remote work environment. If your team members don’t all have access to the same information, then you risk work being done twice, assumptions being made, and balls being dropped.
Give everyone some solid guidelines to follow. But don’t be too rigid. Focus on results, and make sure you’re adapting as necessary to suit the environment that you’re in.
Remember that the world of sales is constantly changing, as is your team. You need to be ready to pivot and grow.
As Dan Smith, Chief Academic Officer of Winning by Design says, “sales leaders now have an excellent opportunity to optimize their teams for remote sales.” Now is the perfect time to adapt remote practices and ensure your company is ready for anything.
Step 5: Constantly Learn and Grow
Whether you’re switching to a remote work environment because you want to unlock the benefits of having a remote team or converting to remote work because of the crisis, it’s important to be prepared.
While you can accomplish great things with a remote sales team, it takes time for everyone, including you, to get used to this new environment.
Keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t for your employees. Machine learning and data analytics tools are great for this. Use them to help you collect and assess information about what’s working and what you can improve upon..
Business-as-usual isn’t gonna cut it. Find a strategy that will allow all your people, processes, and technology to come together in one cohesive plan.
Start Aligning Your Team Today
Managing any kind of team comes with a unique set of challenges. However, if you’re switching to a remote team, you might find it incredibly difficult to switch to a brand-new process.
The key is to take it one step at a time. Start by implementing the right technology, update your sales processes, and put some guidelines in place for your team. Do that, and you’ll soon be well on your way to having a transformed, productive, and aligned team.
How are you making sure your team stays aligned? Let us know in the community.