Having a remote sales team can be an incredibly beneficial arrangement for both employer and employee, but some sales managers may be hesitant to consider this as a possibility. Remote teams mean less frequent communication, less opportunity for ad-hoc collaboration and less control over your team’s day-to-day activities.
While these are all valid concerns, they shouldn’t immediately discourage managers from the idea altogether because after all, sales is more about what you get done rather than when you do it. This guide will go through a few key benefits to having a remote sales team, and will discuss tools, tips and tech to help navigate the challenges in order to build a successful, self-sufficient team of remote reps.
For those who are still sceptical about the possibility of remote reps, here are three significant benefits of working remotely:
1) Boosted productivity
A global survey titled ‘Flexibility Drives Productivity’ (commissioned by Regus) found that 73% of respondents in Australia said their company is more productive, directly as a result of more flexible working.
For remote reps in particular, there are three key benefits:
2) A healthier staff
According to Direct Health Solutions, more than 88 million days are lost to the Australian economy due to absenteeism, costing $27.5 billion yearly in sick leave costs and lost productivity. These are rather alarming numbers, but what can working remotely do to help this?
A remote sales team will typically:
3) Higher staff retention
Remote workers are 50% less likely to quit their jobs because:
But despite the great number of advantages to having a remote sales team, there are a few creases to iron out in order to keep things working smoothly.
1) Communicating effectively (building trust)
One of the hardest challenges with managing a team of remote reps is establishing channels of communication and – more importantly – trust. Since managers can’t casually check up on their team throughout the day or witness them working in person, how can they set up a system of communication to encourage trust and efficiency that doesn’t disrupt their reps’ workdays? How do they trust their remote reps to work a market they don’t understand?
2) Different time zones
Working across different time zones can be a hassle at first, but once you work out a rhythm, it’s entirely manageable.
Here are just a few to try out:
Another challenge with managing a remote sales team – in fact, it’s a struggle with any remote team! – is organisation: working out an effective system to ensure that your reps remain organised and in control of their short-term (and long-term) goals.
It’s easy to assume that physical distance is the only thing separating in-person teams from remote ones, but there is another kind of distance to take into consideration. Virtual distance, or distance felt through digital devices, screens and technology in general, can be little things, like a miscommunication about a project or a slight delay in the video feed on a conference call. These sound harmless, but they can accumulate over time and lead to bigger concerns such as feelings of isolation and professional burnout. So how do you as a manager help your remote sales reps feel ‘virtually close’?
5) Team culture
This point builds off the previous one, but having a social community within your remote team plays a huge part in boosting productivity, reducing conflict and battling virtual distance.
Managing a remote sales team can be hard work – it will take some time to establish a routine that equips reps with the software, resources and coaching they need while letting them hit their targets. But through collaboration tools, regular communication and, above all, trust and transparency, you’ll be able to build a strong, successful remote team.
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