If you've noticed more dogs, cats, and kids in work video calls, you aren't alone. Remote work is on the rise. But can sales teams, who rely on coworker interactions, in-person meetings, and regular training, be successful long-term as remote workers?
Absolutely. And we're going to show you how.
When COVID hit, a lot of folks were scrambling to figure out how to successfully work remotely. Not at Leadfeeder — we've actually been building and maintaining a remote culture for years.
I know, I know. But here's the thing: building a remote team isn't easy. The same old communication methods, managing strategies, and sales tools that work in the office don't work in a remote setting.
If you are considering moving to a remote setup or are struggling to maintain an effective remote sales team, we can help. In this article, Leadfeeder sales managers Alicia Murphy and Dipak Vadera share their tips for success as remote sales managers.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of working remotely? No pants? 💯 Extra snuggles with your dog? 🙌 Fewer distractions? 🤔
Maybe. Maybe not.
Working remotely might not be all it's cracked up to be, especially for sales teams that are used to collaborating and chatting about what works (and what doesn't) in person.
You'll need to make adjustments. Here are six tips for building a successful remote sales team.
1. Hire a great (remote) team
A great remote sales team starts with the right people. With an in-person sales team, you look for people with the right personality to mesh with your clients and the communications methods you use. You want go-getters, self-starters, and folks who are willing to learn.
Those factors are important in remote teams as well, but you'll need to dig a little deeper. At Leadfeeder, we look for team members who are:
Self-motivated and driven: Our teams need to work well without the traditional office setting to keep them focused.
Organized and detail-oriented: Attention to the small things is crucial in a remote setting. At Leadfeeder, our teams need to continually check to ensure we don’t “double-dip” in an opportunity where another team member may be working with the same company. Following up and checking in with clients (and team members) is more important than ever.
Great time management skills: Remote workers have a lot more control over their time — which is a great thing. However, it does require workers who are able to manage their time and not get overly distracted by their setting.
Good collaborators: In a remote setting, sales reps can't hear their coworkers' calls or client-facing activities. Workers have had to seek out collaboration opportunities otherwise, it can feel like you are alone on an island being in a remote sales role. Which isn't good for performance or morale.
Here are basic questions that we ask during the interview process at Leadfeeder broken down by our core values.
When was the last time you thought “outside the box” and how did you do it? Why?
Tell me about a time you thought of a good idea at a previous company and the steps you took to get it implemented
Give me an example of an important career goal which you set yourself and tell me how you reached it. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome the obstacles?
How do you maintain self-motivation when you experience a setback on the way to achieve your goal? How do you do it?
Have you ever made a big mistake at your previous companies? What happened?
When has a project or event you organized not gone according to plan? What happened? Why? How did you feel?
What goals, including career goals, have you set for your life?
How do you stay on top of your field? Books? Events? Networking? Courses?
When was the last time you learned something new?
Open to feedback
Have you ever received feedback from a manager or team member that you disagreed with? How did you handle it?
If someone on your team is clearly doing something that has a negative impact on the company, how do you approach it?
How do you feel about formal company reviews? What do you prefer?
Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
We believe that people are at the core of company success. Finding good people that contribute to Leadfeeders vast culture is a top priority.
2. Give your team the tools they need to be successful
The right team is just the first step. They also need the right sales tools to be successful — and there's a chance the right tools for an in-office sales team and a remote sales team aren't the same.
For example, you'll probably want to rely a bit more on automation to ensure sales reps aren't going after the same accounts or forgetting to follow up with leads that visit your site. While the right sales stack isn't one-size-fits-all, we have found a few tools for the Leadfeeder sales teams. Here's what we use:
Sales Intelligence: Pipedrive, Intercom, Google Analytics
Sales Enablement: Intercom, Leadfeeder
Sales Engagement: Outreach (for outbound team)
Communication: Slack, Leadfeeder, MailChimp, Zoom, Calendly
Sales Pipeline, Analytics, Measurement: Leadfeeder, Pipedrive
To build the right sales stack for a remote team, you'll want to start by evaluating your current tools. Do they work well for your team? Will they work in a remote setup? For example, does your CRM automatically update when a sales rep assigns a contact to themselves or moves them through the pipeline?
Ask your team what is working and what doesn't, and look for tools that fill the gaps.
3. Give your team a strong foundation
A great onboarding program is crucial to any sales team — but it's especially important for remote companies.
Make sure your team is ready to go from day one by providing resources to learn your product, ICP, mission/vision/values. For example, at Leadfeeder, we share a "day in the life of a Leadfeeder sales rep" so reps know what to expect.
Just ensure the content isn't delivered in the same format. Reading 25 pages of documents isn't going to work. Mix it up with videos, demos, and even interactive courses when possible.
We've also found great success creating a "buddy" program for new hires to meet and work with more tenured team members. Depending on your program, that might include:
Reviewing tricky deals together
Brainstorming forecasting models
Sharing outreach tactics
Sharing email templates with high conversion rates
Talking through ways to re-engage deals that have gone quiet
With remote teams, it's also important to have non-work-related meet-ups. It can be as simple as grabbing a coffee/beer with a work friend over Zoom or scheduling a weeklong meet-up for the whole team.
4. Set realistic and data-driven goals/expectations
Goal setting is crucial in a fast-paced sales environment. It's even more crucial in a remote sales environment where reps have more control over their time. But there's a balance. Don't set unrealistic goals or expect sales reps to work 24-7 — that's a recipe for burnout.
Instead, work with reps to set SMART goals backed by data. If you are moving remote, consider whether your team can hit the same goals in the first few weeks working remotely. (Probably not right away.)
If you are working with new hires, look back at how new hires have performed in their first weeks on the job and plan accordingly.
Remote teams, in our experience, are more productive — but that takes time. You can't expect to switch from in-office to fully remote and increase sales by 25 percent in the same week.
Finally, make sure to check in regularly with your team to see how they are progressing towards their goals. Weekly 1-on-1s are a great way to check-in and ensure your reps have the support they need to succeed with their sales plan.
5. Be a manager people can talk to
Managing a remote team requires a different approach. You can't walk by their desk to check-in or grab lunch to discuss challenges they're facing. Here are the approaches Alicia and Dipak recommend for remote sales managers.
Be approachable and open to feedback from your team. Ask how they are doing and where they need support. Offer solutions, not judgment.
Manage each person in a way that works for them. A one size fits all management approach doesn't work, especially in a remote environment. The best way to find out how team members prefer to be managed is to ASK.
When you can, talk through things on a video call. Sharing screens and walking through challenges can give sales reps the information and connections they need to succeed.
Schedule regular meetings, but keep them short. No one wants to spend their entire day in meetings. However, scheduled weekly team meetings and 1-on-1s are crucial to keeping your team engaged and provide the feedback reps need to succeed. Just keep them short and have an agenda so you don't waste time.
Creating a successful remote sales team is possible — if you have the right tools and the right approach. At Leadfeeder, we've spent nearly a decade building and improving our remote team. While there are challenges to being a remote company, we find the pros far outweigh the cons.
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