The recent pandemic created a lot of buzz around remote sales management and the difficulty associated with it. Spoiler alert! Remote sales management has been around for YEARS. This is not a new role or position.
As a former VP of Sales, I led over 130 “remote salespeople.” It didn’t even occur to me that I should assign a label to this type of management. I don’t recall remote sales management being more difficult than managing salespeople in the office. Why? Because we embraced best practices that made remote sales management easier and more effective. Here are three tips to get you started.
Hire self-directed salespeople. Interviewing for this skill set is even more important today with the army of helicopter parents flying around. A salesperson that is working remotely must be independent, able to set goals, and lay out a plan to achieve the goal without a “sales management parent” checking in.
Self-directed salespeople get the job done.
They are good at making the right choices to achieve the right results. They are also good at getting rid of distractions to focus on executing thoughtful work.
Include this interview question in your hiring process to test for this competency. “Tell me about a time when you’ve had to take on a project with no guidance and limited resources.”
The self-directed sales candidate can provide a story and proof. The not-so-self-directed candidate will tell a different story, one full of excuses as to why he couldn’t get the job done because of limited direction or resources.
Hire honest salespeople. I’ve heard more than one sales manager express concern around whether or not a salesperson is working.
Here’s another reality check.
Honest people put in an honest day’s work. Their integrity on the inside leads to their honest actions on the outside.
Honest salespeople don’t lie about the numbers they input into the CRM system. If they are falling behind on achieving sales metrics, they’ll be the first to tell you. And then they take the proper action to course correct --- because they are self-directed!
Honest salespeople don’t need to punch a clock. They know they are being paid for their effort and results. If they need to work extra hours to get the job done, they will. If the work and goals are achieved, this same person might kick off early from the workday.
Honest salespeople are honest in their words and deeds.
Get out of your office. Yes, get out of your comfy chair and go build relationships with your sales team. Get out of your video box and into your salesperson’s world.
Remote sales management doesn’t mean you are remote!
I don’t care if you manage field salespeople, inside salespeople, or a combination of both. Stop quarterbacking your team from your office and get side by side with your team. I have logged HUNDREDS of hours riding with field salespeople. Some of the drive time was invested in pre-briefing and debriefing calls. The rest of the time was invested in getting to know the salesperson including his or her interests outside of work, hobbies, or family.
Don’t use the excuse you have inside sellers that work out of their homes. So what? Travel out of your office or home and into their office or home. Do a ride-a-long in their home office.
Of course, these “ride-a-longs” are more challenging with an international team. This is where I continue to preach the importance of holding a yearly in-person sales conference. Human beings are wired to connect. Spend the money, hold the meeting and build valuable relationships.
Per J. Shay Events "The average cost of a sales kickoff is between $1,000 and $2,000 per employee. A trivial cost when you consider the upside of a well-executed SKO, versus not having an event altogether.
If you only look at sales training, it carries a $4.53 in return for every dollar invested, an ROI of 353%. That’s massive. Combine this with the benefits of lower attrition (7.9% vs 14.2%) and increased production (20-40%, compared to the power of incentives), and your next sales kickoff, sales summit, or sales meeting can prove to have an incredible ROI."
Remote sales management isn’t a new role. Do what other successful sales managers do. Hire self-directed and honest salespeople. Get out of your office and connect with your sales team.