It’s 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic has affected every industry and niche in the world. As companies seek ways to work remotely, one question pops up pretty frequently. How can you build and scale a remote sales team? Even more important, is sales something that can be done effectively in a remote setting? And how do you even start if the office is all you’ve known?
Better Proposals has been working remotely since our launch, and that includes our marketing and sales teams. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned on how to build a great sales team that works remotely.
Hire seasoned professionals
On its face this may sound harsh, but it’s hard to overestimate the value of experience on a remote team. Rookie sales reps are great for the office; you can coach them and shape them to be exactly what you need to round out your sales team. Managing sales teams remotely makes job shadowing and mentoring uniquely challenging. A remote team is a tough environment to attempt to grow your own sales pro from a novice.
Brand new, entry-level employees require much more in-depth onboarding, and the complexities and benefits of inbound sales and marketing are often better understood by employees who have already worked within a traditional sales model. Successful inbound sales demands a high level of client/prospect attention and empathy — because it’s all about being helpful along the entire buyer’s journey.
After all the effort to onboard and train a newbie, you may find that they’re a poor fit for your team — and that you’re behind on your sales goals. After the disruptions and upheavals companies find themselves facing, that’s a huge risk to take. Instead, hire seasoned pros with a track record of selling online or offline, so you can focus their training on the inbound methodology and understanding the sales flywheel, and they’ll be up and running quickly.
Once you’ve built a strong remote sales team that consistently succeeds at delighting prospects and closing deals, you can allow yourself some room to breathe and add a junior sales rep. On the other hand, if the transition to a fully remote work is proving to be more than your sales team can handle on their own, it might be the right time to lean on the support of an experienced inbound agency.
Set super clear expectations
Imagine someone who never worked in sales remotely who now finds themselves working in a remote setting. How will they know what to do? What does a successful day look like? And an unsuccessful one? It’s up to you to communicate that in advance.
When you work in a remote setting, communication is critical. Make sure sales goals, targets, and timelines are crystal clear. Align marketing and sales efforts so everyone’s working toward the same objectives. Make goals and progress visible to all team members — and use sales reps’ competitive instincts to drive effort, too.
Sales is one department where results are easily measurable, so make full use of this fact. Besides helping your team work more efficiently, clear expectations and goals will help you with attribution and performance. You can see who’s doing great and who may not be a good fit for a remote work environment.
Moreover, make sure that your team has your full support at all times. If they’re struggling to achieve their goals, they should be able to reach out for help from you. Be there for them for the weekly sales calls, both group and one-on-one. Show them how you make full use of inbound marketing resources to eliminate friction and close sales.
Write down your processes
In many companies, there is an official way of doing things, and there is what 90% of employees do. People know the standard operating procedures, but they often stray from them and do things as they please. The potential for chaos is even greater with remote teams, and your sales crew could easily fall out of place, doing tasks haphazardly instead of following an officially documented procedure.
Before you even think about building and scaling a remote team, write everything down: your target audiences, your customer personas, which tools you use, the length and stages of your sales cycle.
Standard operating procedures need to be documented so that every time someone new comes in, they can refer to your playbooks instead of constantly asking their manager.
Another great idea you can implement is recording videos for all your SOPs. While they are more engaging and easier to learn from, they are not as evergreen as a written text. So keep in mind, should something change in the future, you’ll have to record new videos.
Finally, don’t forget one thing: keep your processes super simple. The last thing that a remote sales rep needs is a 20-point checklist for every touchpoint with a qualified lead. If a process step can be removed, delete it.
Equip them with the right tools
In all honestly, aside from the occasional meeting, sales was already a line of work that could be done remotely. In recent years, there has been a major development in the world of sales tools. You can now get amazing apps that allow your sales team to work remotely, no matter what you sell and to whom.
Start off with the right Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) tool. If you want a remote team that functions well, you need to choose your CRM carefully. There are so many of them right now that it can be complicated to weigh the pros and cons. Ideally, your CRM will integrate with your marketing automation system for seamless handoffs and lead management. HubSpot Sales and CRM software tools help keep your sales and marketing efforts effectively paced and coordinated while streamlining or eliminating extra tasks that get in the way of productivity.
We also suggest trying out proposal software. Writing, managing, and sending business proposals can be as simple as a few clicks if you use the right tool. Better Proposals is an app that lets you create proposals within minutes, send them as links, and watch as your customers read and sign them. You can also get paid directly from the proposal, which is a great plus.
Finally, make sure to look into a reliable VoIP provider. Like CRM, this is another competitive, crowded market so it’s worth doing some research. HubSpot Sales and CRM software has calling and recording features built in at the Pro and Enterprise levels.
The time is now
Even though it seems like building and scaling a remote team is vastly different from what’s needed in an office setting, in truth, it’s not all that different. Considering the pandemic and its effects, remote work is only going to grow more widespread in the future. The sooner you start working on building your remote sales dream team, the better. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll hit the ground running.