Managing a remote team isn’t a new concept, but when much of the world went remote in 2020, a larger conversation arose about the importance of keeping employees motivated, encouraged, and supported while working from home. Though some companies may return to the office in the coming months, the desire for remote work — and the ability to do so seamlessly — is trending upwards. So, it’s important to continually focus on how to motivate your sales team and support your remote employees.
Per HubSpot's 2019 Remote Work Report, the challenges most often faced by remote workers are:
- poor communication
- feelings of loneliness
Other remote work challenges include:
- feelings of disconnection from the team and company
- unclear goals and expectations
- additional external stressors and distractions
Despite these challenges, there are plenty of positive aspects to managing a remote team. A recent Stanford University research study found that when working remotely, employees had a 13% performance increase along with improved job satisfaction and an attrition rate that was cut in half.
Finding and keeping motivation in the remote work environment can be challenging for all employees, but especially for newly remote sales teams who were perhaps used to relying on face-to-face conversations with their prospects, as well as in-office camaraderie and (friendly!) competition. Maintaining consistent sales team motivation in the remote world requires an efficient and dependable communication framework.
In this article, we’ll share examples of how to structure your remote sales workers, establish new habits and techniques, and enhance your current sales team motivation tools. We’ll also provide some creative ideas for keeping the in-office company culture alive through the digital world.
How to motivate your sales team
Setting up a structure
The first step in ensuring that your remote sales team is motivated is setting up a solid communication structure. Staying connected to the sales team is beneficial to both management and sales reps.
As a manager, scheduling weekly one on ones with your direct reports will give you consistent insight into your sales employees’ progress and goals.
Additionally, the sales rep will have scheduled facetime with their manager to receive clear performance feedback and assessments. This is also a great time to review sales goals, discuss any obstacles they’re facing, and celebrate victories.
Depending on your sales organization structure, setting up a recurring morning brief, or “stand-up”, could serve as an additional touchpoint and a way to bring the team together (virtually) on a daily basis.
Recreating an all-hands sales meeting virtually is another efficient way to discuss progress and any necessary updates. This is also a great chance to incorporate shoutouts, kudos, and overall victories across the team — don’t forget that these celebratory moments are key to drumming up motivation for your team.
Bringing in sales professionals for fireside chats and offering anonymous Q&A sessions are additional opportunities to make these meetings inclusive and valuable.
Since it’s virtual, it may also be easier to bring in other department heads to speak at these meetings — this aids in the overall connection to the company and can assist in lessening the potential for teams and employees to feel siloed from each other.
Providing access to resources
In order for your remote sales reps to be set up to succeed, they need access to the right resources.
Offering stipends or supplies to help them create a comfortable and suitable at-home desk setup is a worthy investment. It ensures they have everything they need to bring their best self to work.
Physical resources are not the only essentials needed for remote workers. Mental resources and check-ins are just as important. Remote workers can often fall into the trap of overworking.
A recent study by NordVPN, a virtual private network service provider, found that US remote workers increased their average workday by adding an extra three hours. Which is the largest increase worldwide at an almost 40% jump. Additionally, the UK, France, Canada, and Spain are seeing a two-hour increase.
Encourage your employees to take breaks from the computer, establish boundaries, and take time to celebrate their small wins. Consistently, and with empathy, check in on their workload to prevent burnout. The in-office environment naturally provides a lot of social interactions, stimulation, and built-in breaks. So, it’s important to remind your remote workers to incorporate whatever they need to feel balanced in their workday.
Managing remote workers requires flexibility, communication, and understanding — all of which really boil down to trusting your sales reps. A BambooHR survey of over 1,000 employees found that having a boss who doesn’t trust them is the number one cause of frustration. With 80% of 30-44 year old employees finding the situation to be a dealbreaker.
If that trust isn’t inherently there, work on building it over time. Avoid micromanaging and instead trust that your employees have the ability and resources to perform well.
Concentrate on maintaining an open and transparent communication channel without being overbearing. You can even discuss with your reps how they prefer to communicate their challenges, victories, and progress.
Then adapt your strategy to fit their needs and preferences. Every individual is different, so it’s worth taking the time to determine which communication path works best for them and stick with it.
Focus on the outcomes and goals and not on closely monitoring activity. This way you’ll be able to increase sales team motivation and overall satisfaction.
The benefits of remote work
Building new sales techniques and habits
Along with setting up a communication and teamwork structure, remote working can actually allow sales teams to create new habits and improve selling techniques. A remote setup gives sales reps the autonomy to create an individual structure for selling, leading them to feel more empowered. This can be beneficial to the increased revenue for the company, but also for the employee’s overall happiness.
Autonomy is 20 times better than income at predicting happiness at work, so allowing your reps to have their own independence gives them the chance to find much deeper fulfillment in their work.
By definition, remote selling lacks the benefits of meeting a prospect or client in person. The lack of body language cues and energy that come from meeting people face-to-face can be a difficult challenge to overcome at first. However, it can also create an opportunity to find new ways to creatively engage with clients.
The remote structure requires more active and purposeful listening from the seller, along with relying on more personalized content. Using the Demodesk model is a great example — the product allows for more interactive meetings, direct client hands-on engagement, and more streamlined selling, all while being virtual.
Additionally, remote selling creates the opportunity to record your sales calls, a highly beneficial learning tool for improving sales techniques. All of these skills can increase the seller’s performance, which can lead to better client relationships and more sales.
Moving motivational tools online
On top of developing a sales rep’s existing skills, you can also streamline your current motivational tools and make them digital. If your team likes to ring a bell in the office at the close of every sale, send an email announcement as another way to celebrate. Creating slack groups that act as newsrooms or real-time polls and opinions can be a helpful way to include all sales reps in the conversation.
Since simply walking to each other’s desks to discuss an issue is not an option, you can also establish a remote digital whiteboard, where you can track the sales team’s progress. These simple adjustments to already existing tools can make a large impact on motivation within the sales team.
Remote working is a great reason to implement project management tools to establish a clear workflow across teams. Tracking tools will allow sales reps to quickly determine the status of any project from wherever they are. You’ll also cut down on the common challenge of unclear expectations and responsibilities.
Continual coaching sessions can benefit all sales reps, aiding in growing the skills and techniques of your sales team. You can hold training sessions remotely, whether through webinars, e-learning platforms, or mentorship programs. This will give every sales rep the resources they need to succeed.
Group sessions among the sales team can be an effective team-building opportunity. These coworker conversations are a great way to help each other by discussing their obstacles and how they handle rejection. All of these options can be created in the remote world and can develop a fully functioning group of sellers.
Maintaining company culture
Employees who work virtually can often be even more disconnected from the company’s core culture. How can you create team-building experiences and sustain a company culture remotely? Here are a few examples:
Team happy hours, random lunches, and coffee chats
All of these can be done virtually and are great ways to have team members connect and chat. Random lunches can include employees throughout the entire company, not just the sales team. This can foster a deeper sense of connection between all employees and the company as a whole.
Quarterly in-person meet-ups
If you have a number of remote reps within a certain region or are willing to travel to a common city, then hosting quarterly meet-ups can be a positive way to join teams together and create a little in-person camaraderie over a fun activity — only when safe, of course!
While in-person company-wide retreats will most likely return in the future, a virtual retreat is another option for bringing remote teams together. These digital experiences have become highly sought after as a way to promote team building. Especially since it can be much easier to plan logistically.
Think about extending some of those in-office perks to your remote team. Does your office have unlimited coffee? Send some local coffee to your remote workers, so they can join in on the caffeine fun. Does your office have a book club? Make it virtual and host the discussions online. Offer in-office yoga or meditation? Stream it live, so the remote reps can hop into class as well. Encourage sales reps to create recreational groups with each other and to extend the digital invite whenever they can!
The future of remote work
In a recent survey, Upwork found that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely —an 87% percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, a Global Workplace Analytics study found that two-thirds of people want to work from home, and a poll of 1,500 tech professionals showed that 37% would take a 10% pay cut if they could work from home.
Based on this growing remote work preference, there is considerable benefit in creating an adaptable sales organization. Invest in innovative and resourceful ideas to support a remote sales team. It will only help increase the valuation of your business organization. Focus on establishing a well-rounded and supported sales team (both remote and in-office). This will create an opportunity to scale the business and lead to a stronger company overall.