To work from home is becoming the new normal for many in 2020. Why not your inside sales team? There are several benefits that come with working from home, like lower overhead for the company and higher employee productivity.
As an inside sales team, you already interact with prospects remotely, so working from home will most likely not change that dynamic. On the other hand, remote work means you have to give up valuable in-person meetings and training that help the entire team collaborate and learn from each other.
So how do you transition your inside sales team to work from home without losing those critical team interactions?
The key to developing a thriving remote inside sales team is to start with a new workflow process that will ensure your inside sales reps are clear on what’s expected. In this article, we share five steps to help you transition your sales team to working from home, including:
Step 1: Create a teamwork schedule
Step 2: Provide the right tools
Step 3: Keep the team connected
Step 4: Focus on training and onboarding
Step 5: Motivate team performance
Creating a work-from-home sales process for inside sales
The transition to work from home can be smooth for a team as long as there are a set of guidelines in place and every team member is clear on expectations – meaning they understand their goals, tasks for the week, and when they need to be online for meetings.
A Gallup poll of German workers showed that managers who set clear expectations and responded quickly when employees needed support led to better performance and increased initiative.
To prepare your remote inside sales team, establish a clear work from home sales process for everyone to follow. Here’s how to do it, step by step.
Step 1: make a weekly team schedule
Traditional offices have business hours. You come into work around a certain time and you are expected to stay until a certain time. With remote work, it is not always that clear-cut.
Some people prefer to work in the early morning, while others feel more motivated in the evening. To ensure your team is productive, it makes sense to provide flexibility with boundaries.
If your remote inside sales team is in the same time zone, you can designate working hours so everyone is available to connect for a call and work together simultaneously. For remote inside sales teams across time zones, pick an ideal block in your day so everyone's schedule overlaps for a few hours. This will allow you to organize team meetings, as well as one-on-one check-ins when needed.
When you create your schedule, be sure to include mandatory meetings, such as stand-ups and weekly meetings with other departments. You can schedule one-on-one meetings with each team member as you see fit.
While a calendar app like Google Calendar can help maintain recurring meetings, it is also a good idea to use a scheduling tool so your team can know everyone’s availability, facilitating impromptu meetings.
Step 2: provide the right tech tools
Inside sales already use a tech toolset that will make the transition to remote work easier. All of your cloud-based tools can be easily accessed from home, including your CRM, prospecting, and online meeting tools.
To help your team communicate and stay connected outside of the office, you will need to add some other tools that are designed to help distributed teams stay on the same page. Three areas to consider are daily communications, task management, and employee feedback tools.
Since you can no longer have a quick in-person conversation in the hall or hold an impromptu emergency meeting, you’ll need some tools to help you fill in these gaps.
Chat tools like Slack help your entire team communicate around different topics as well as enable one-on-one chats. For face-to-face meetings, a video conferencing tool like Demodesk, which you’d normally use for prospect sales and customer success meetings, works just as great for internal meetings. Tip: You can always record meetings for people who might not have been able to attend, so they can go back and watch the recording when they are online again.
While your inside sales reps are constantly using the CRM to manage opportunities, it is still a good idea to get a sense of what everyone is working on throughout the week. Task management tools like Monday.com, Basecamp, ProofHub, and Time Doctor let everyone see which projects each person is working on and their status.
Instead of checking in to get a status update every day, you can simply log on to your tool to see where everyone is at and manage each person from there.
When you are in the office, you can tell if a colleague is having a bad week or needs some extra motivation. It is important not to lose that personal interaction when you go remote. Team check-in tools like 15Five allow for everyone to provide weekly feedback, conduct reviews, or just give virtual high fives, a.k.a. team appreciation.
At Demodesk, we use a Slack App called HeyTaco! When someone wants to recognize a team member for their hard work, support, or infectious happiness, all you need to do is tag them in a comment with a taco. A leaderboard with rewards can even be set up to inspire a little friendly competition.
Don’t forget about security!
While most cloud-based tools will have their own security measures, it is still important that you create best practices for your team to follow such as the use of 2-factor authentication, password management tools, and limiting permissions of sensitive company data.
If your sales team uses internal servers or other enterprise tools, each remote team member should access them through your company’s VPN (virtual private network.)
Step 3: keep the sales team connected
It may seem strange at first to communicate mainly in writing through online tools like Slack, but remember that everything is saved this way. This makes it easier to find and reread information later.
Although this digital work approach has its practical advantages, let’s not forget the importance of other human connections. Phone calls and “face-to-face” video chats can be huge time-savers as well as morale boosters. A supportive tone of voice or the grin of a co-worker can make a big difference. These calls also help to minimize miscommunication and frustration. Yes, we’ve all been there.
Schedule weekly team meetings to keep everyone on the same page, allow for organic discussions, and of course, maintain team culture and unity. Individual check-ins are recommended as well to make sure your reps are feeling supported, to address specific questions gleaned from their feedback, and acknowledge KPIs.
Finally, use your tools to keep your company culture thriving. Water cooler chats now need to be replaced by things like Slack channels dedicated to weekend plans or funny memes, as well as group video calls focusing on non-work topics.
Something we have implemented here at Demodesk is Donut. Donut is a Slack App that randomly connects different team members together for a short talk over coffee. This helps break up some of your work and allows teammates to connect even if they aren’t at the same location.
Step 4: focus on training and onboarding
Now that your team is entering remote work, this is the perfect time to provide fresh training and onboarding procedures. Create documents and videos to make it as self-service as possible.
Liam Martin, CEO of the remote company TimeDoctor, says this about remote sales:
“Procedures on lead generation, how to do a demo, negotiate, and close a deal and customer success are all critical to systematize and digitize to make a remote sales team successful.”
Tools like Notion let you create a central repository of documentation (also known as a wiki) that answers frequently asked questions and gives your team access to all your important articles, spreadsheets, workflows, tasks, and more.
As you can’t do in-person training, the next best thing is to create videos that enable training and onboarding. Tools like Wistia will help you track which team members watched the video and where they stopped watching. This will help you improve the content to make even better training and onboarding videos.
Another training technique is to do practice pitches using your preferred meeting tool. Demodesk helps you onboard and coach reps in real-time and provides helpful cheat sheets for handling objections.
Step 5: motivate team performance
All of the sales metrics you currently monitor for your team should not change. While performance metrics are important, remote teams will need to go beyond performance to measure remote productivity and employee happiness.
While performance focuses on sales results, productivity can mean a variety of things from the number of training videos watched to the number of tasks accomplished.
So how do you measure happiness? Use a feedback tool like 15Five (mentioned above) to get a team temperature read and figure out what is working and what is not with day-to-day remote work. At the end of each week or month, you might ask questions like:
- On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your week/month?
- What’s going well? What are you proud of?
- Where are you getting stuck in the sales process?
- Do you have any questions about our work from the home sales process, the company, or our team?
- What is your personal goal for next week/month?
Checking in regularly and allowing for honest feedback will pinpoint issues to address and maintain the collaborative spirit of your team. Happiness is the metric that will keep your remote team flourishing and healthy.