There has been a definitive change to the structure and organization of today’s sales team – they are now virtual. While COVD-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual sales teams, companies have long leveraged the underlying benefits of this workforce design. Virtual teams and teleworking scenarios offer a scalable mechanism through which organizations can broaden their geographic presence and reach into its target markets, without the need for capital intensive investments. These financial efficiencies are complimented by the fact that sales force productivity can actually increase in a work from home (WFM) or work from anywhere (WFA) arrangement.
Regardless of what is driving a business implement a virtual sales team structure, there are several factors that managers need to consider:
1. Infrastructure set-up
First, ensure your sales team has the necessary equipment to set-up a comfortable work from home space. This may require you to allow them to take basic equipment from the office home. It may also be a good idea to provide additional monetary subsidies to help your team set-up quickly. Small gestures indicate that the organization supports the work from home setting and is ready to support their revenue generation department.
2. Set-up procedures
Operational procedures can either make or break your team dynamic. Research shows that simple procedures like daily check-ins and team meetings which can contribute positively to organizational culture and strategic alignment. Leveraging project management tools, customer relationship management platforms and/or an internal communications tool like Slack can help organize workflows and communication channels. For a list of the latest tools and resources, read “Why Building a Remote Sales Team Matters: 20+ Tips, Tools, and Resources”.
3. Promote information and knowledge sharing
Teams that work remotely have no water cooler chats or impromptu lunch time discussions where individuals can bounce ideas off one another. That’s why the best virtual teams have built a culture where information and knowledge sharing is the norm. For sales leaders, this accelerates new rep development while giving established sellers access to emerging selling methods, channels, and techniques.
4. Build trust & reduce frustrations
Individual productivity is the most common concern that managers have with remote working. Research, however, suggests that employees often over-work to mitigate managerial concerns and influence peer perceptions. Breaking these misconception presents a tremendous opportunity for managers to build trust amongst the team, which can be facilitated through effective one-on-one meetings.
5. Promote employee engagement
A virtual working environment can increase the risk of employees feeling isolated. Advocating engagement between the team members will help dispel these feelings. Activities like video calls help to ignite the feeling of being physically present in the office, while hosting virtual meet-ups and online games can boost competitive spirits and morale.
6. Set realistic expectations
Set expectations with your team about goals, effective communication, and information sharing from the beginning. Communicate to your team how their performance will be measured and how frequently. Transparency and honesty are the key to success. If your team is making a transition to a remote setting, recognize that your team members may have families and are also adapting to the newly evolving situation just like you. Give your team the time to find their footing and not expect the same level of productivity from day one.
7. Think about yourself too
Last but one of the most important – look out for yourself! Setting-up a remote team (in most occasions) is not a one-person task, it takes collaboration with various stakeholders (IT, HR, Finance, etc.). Make sure you have the resources for the set-up or transition and reach out to the appropriate personnel as needed. Communicate your goals and limitations to the team, and ask for support when required. Top performers will acknowledge the importance of team support and step-up to the occasion!