COVID-19 put a lot of sales teams (and managers) into an overnight tailspin and a lot of companies are just now beginning to return to some level of normality. But for a lot of organizations, “normal” isn’t a return to how things used to be.
“Normal” now means more Zoom meetings, more chats in Slack, more approvals via emoji, and more short-hand and impersonal communication than what we were used to just a few short years ago.
While remote work has been a big boost for productivity in some sectors, it’s been tough for others — especially management.
As a sales manager, keeping teams motivated and incentivized was tough. But now with fully remote and hybrid teams baked into the new “normal,” it can feel like all of your motivation and incentivizing efforts are just a half-baked hodgepodge that, honestly, you’re just hoping are working.
Let’s dive into a quick rundown of what sales managers like you — who might be managing remote or hybrid teams — can do to keep spirits and sales high as you sell and manage in a post-COVID world.
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1. Set clear expectations and goals.
One of the most important things you can do as a remote sales manager is to set clear expectations and goals for your team.
This includes setting individual and team goals, as well as outlining the sales process and how you expect your team to communicate with you and each other. It is also important to be clear about your expectations for productivity and work hours.
The bottom line is to keep these expectations consistent and consistently enforced when someone on the team plays a bit fast and loose with the rules or slacks on what you expect from them.
Reps can already feel at odds with one another if some are in-office and some are remote. If any of them feels like there’s uneven expectations or inconsistent enforcement, it can cause significant friction and drag down overall team performance.
2. Invest in the right tools.
There are a number of tools that can make it easier to manage a remote sales team. These tools can help you with everything from scheduling calls and meetings, to tracking sales performance, and to simply make it easier to get your sales team collaborating.
No matter the tech you’re using, consistency and removing friction is key. If reps are spending all of their time setting up and otherwise fiddling with their tools, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
3. Create a culture of communication.
Communication is key to any successful team, but it's especially important for remote teams. Make sure your team members feel comfortable communicating with you and each other. This means being responsive to emails and messages, and scheduling regular check-in calls. It also means creating a culture of feedback, where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
4. Celebrate successes publicly.
When your team members achieve success, be sure to celebrate their wins. This will help to keep them motivated and engaged. You can celebrate successes in a number of ways, such as sending out a team-wide email, giving out shoutouts on social media, or even just taking a moment to congratulate your team member on a job well done.
5. Provide regular feedback.
Feedback is essential for any employee's development, but it's especially important for remote employees. Make sure you're providing regular feedback to your team members, both positive and constructive. This will help them to stay on track and improve their performance.
6. Empower your team members.
One of the best ways to keep your remote sales team motivated is to empower them to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This means giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed, and then trusting them to do their jobs. Micromanagement is the quickest way for them to see you as an overbearing, hindering force rather than a supporter who’s in their corner and who wants them to succeed.
7. Show your appreciation.
It's important to show your appreciation for your remote sales team members, both on a personal and professional level. This could mean sending a handwritten note, giving them a gift card, or simply taking the time to thank them for their hard work. Whatever your choice, should it be appropriate, really consider making the praise public. When people feel rewarded and others see them being rewarded for their effort, it’s a great moral booster all around.
8. Encourage social interaction.
Social interaction is important for any team, but it's especially important for remote teams. Encourage your team members to connect with each other outside of work. This could mean setting up a Slack channel for social chat, organizing virtual happy hours, or even just encouraging them to connect during downtime via shared viewing experiences on streaming platforms like Netflix.
9. Be flexible.
Things don't always go according to plan, especially when you're working remotely. Be flexible with your team members and be willing to make adjustments as needed. This could mean changing meeting times, giving them more flexibility with their work hours, or even just being understanding when they need to take a break.
10. Get help from professional sales trainers.
The best managers and sales reps are those that aren’t afraid to ask for help. Our sales training programs equip your reps with the tools they need to create lasting, trust-based relationships with customers and our mentorship programs help managers like you learn how to flourish in your role.