Sales professionals are crucial to any organisation. In many cases, they are the lifeblood – responsible for driving the overall growth and revenue of the company, and they must be supported with the right tools and coaching to foster their professional development and sales success. However, sales is a unique situation where proximity to customers is also essential.
Over the years, thanks to technology, it has become easier for sales professionals to work remotely, and for many organisations it also made economic sense. For the sales professional, it enabled more face-to-face time with prospects and customers, building greater loyalty, and also afforded them more flexibility in how they structured their time.
An ideal situation, right? Well, working remotely doesn’t come without its costs. Without regular interaction with the sales team and manager, it’s easy for a remote sales professional to miss out on valuable coaching opportunities with sales managers and the rich learning that can come from observing successful co-workers. This can significantly impact performance if not addressed properly.
To provide remote sales staff the support they need and avoid the potential for lackluster performance, there are three key areas that should be addressed by managers and the sales associate.
1. Insist on regular coaching
As the clichéd saying goes, “There’s always room for improvement.” Sales is no different. No matter how much of a rock star you are, there are always new tactics and approaches that can be learned and implemented to close more deals. If you work in a traditional office setting you probably are accustomed to regular training sessions, workshops, and one-on-ones with managers. Numerous studies have shown that regular coaching is key to high-performance sales teams.
When you work remotely, it’s easy to miss out on these opportunities. Don’t let this be the case for you. Remote sales professionals and managers need to make time for regular coaching. And the coaching must be tailored to the individual based on specific needs and performance. Both parties need to make it a priority to have a regular feedback loop. Providing actionable advice based on an individual’s performance can be a challenge in a remote situation, but now there is software out there that enables performance tracking to help make coaching a more customized event.
2. Work collaboratively
It’s all too easy to feel like an island when you work remotely, and ultimately to act like one. You often gain greater productivity when the lure of the water cooler chats about last night’s game are eliminated, but regular interaction with the team can actually boost performance. When everyone is working towards achieving the same goal, your fellow sales associates are often your greatest allies and sources of information. Your team can become a tremendous support network and they are often the best people to help problem solve.
Take the time to network with your colleagues, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone or online. Sales managers should also be encouraging this and fostering an environment that enables regular team interaction. Now, there are numerous tools out there to make remote communication easy, but try look for one that is free of other distractions (like updates from friends outside of the organization). Now there are tools specifically designed for sales teams – equipped with leaderboards to see what everyone on the team is doing. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Engage in healthy competition
Competitiveness is second nature to most sales professionals – it’s part of what drives success in sales. A downside to working remotely, however, is that friendly competition you lose when you’re not around your team day in and day out. You don’t have the friendly banter or the visual of the leaderboard staring at you all day pushing you to be successful. No one is ringing a bell to let the whole office know you just landed a big sale.
Don’t let distance impact your competitive edge. To mitigate this, you might again turn to regular in-person interactions or technology. The same tool used for collaboration might be a solution here as well if it has features like a digital leaderboard and a running feed of the team’s activity. No matter how robust the software or tool used, however, the sales manager must cultivate an environment that champions collaboration and healthy competition.
At the end of the day, being remote may be what you and the organization need to be successful and deepen relationships with customers. But don’t let the distance mean the three C’s are lacking – coaching, collaboration and competition.
By Don Pierson, CEO of SalesFitRx, sales performance management software that runs on all devices to collect invaluable information for you about how you perform your job.