How to Succeed as a Remote Salesperson: 15 Tips from the Experts

How to Succeed as a Remote Salesperson

Working from home is a rising trend in today’s global workforce. In fact, research shows that the number of remote workers has increased nearly 80% over the past decade. And with 76% of Millennials, who will soon make up the vast majority of the U.S. workforce, indicating they prefer to work remotely at least some of the time, there is a strong liklihood that the number of remote workers will continue to rise.

Working from home has its benefits. According to a recent study, benefits found from working remotely at least a few times per month include:

  • 77% reported greater productivity
  • 24% were willing to work longer hours to accomplish more
  • 30% accomplished more in less time

However, working as a remote sales rep presents its own unique challenges such as a potential loss of efficiency, major distractions, and the battle to ‘proving yourself’ in the absence of your team. These challenges can threaten a sales rep’s ability to meet and exceed their aggressive goals.

As more salespeople seek the flexility of working from home, we have compiled a list of 14 tips from the sales experts.

Here are 15 tips on how sales reps can be successful working remotely:

1. Leverage personal communication tools

Mark CoxMark Cox

Managing Partner at In the Funnel – Sales Consulting

“It’s so easy these days to default to an email, text or instant message for daily communication with your team members. These tools lack the personal touch that we need as human beings to feel connected and part of a team, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or get on a video chat to talk strategy or update your manager.  For sales leaders, this is also a much better way to gauge stress levels or other emotions that don’t come across in writing.”

 

2. Love your job

Kendra LeeKendra Lee

President of KLA Group and Author of The Sales Magnet

The reality is, when you work remotely, there is nobody standing over you with a big stick, nagging you to sell. Managers may monitor your dials through the phone system and track your activities through CRM. But all those strategies aren’t fail-safe. The true motivation must come from loving sales, your customers, your solutions and your team. When you find that passion, you’re excited to do the job no matter where you’re located. And when you love what you do, you’ll well exceed any target.

 

3. Leverage video and messaging technology

Gary SmythGary Smyth

Founder and CEO of Sales Elite, LLC

“Working in sales position remotely can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be. Choose a role that you are passionate about, this will always motivate you to keep moving forward. Communication is key, don’t limit your interactions to email. Leverage video to build empathy with your co-workers and messaging technology to share best practices, successes and key updates. Have designated touch points with management with a defined schedule to accomplish everything you need to. Seek to be a mentor or protégé for another team member, build your personal brand as a go to member of the team.”

 

4. Start with the tough stuff

Shari LevitinShari Levitin

CEO and Professional Speaker at Levitin Group and Author of Heart and Sell

“Begin each morning with sales related activities like prospecting, strategic planning and meeting with customers (well, you may want to grab a cup of coffee and feed the dog first). Why? It’s alluring to engage in behaviors that do nothing to advance sales — responding to email, diddling on social media and other distractions spiral out of control quickly when working from home.  Besides, research shows decision-making is at its peak first thing in the morning. The more decisions you make throughout the day, the harder the next one becomes. Decision fatigue sets in. The result –recklessness and frustration. President Obama has been quoted as saying that he makes his most important decisions in the morning while he’s still fresh. The best salespeople know to exert self-discipline, prioritize tasks and dive into the tough stuff first.”

 

5. Be disciplined and focused

Barbara GiamancoBarbara Giamanco

President and Social Selling Advisor at Social Centered Selling LLC

“Working successfully from home relies on your mindset, discipline and focus. You might be in your home but you are on the corporate clock. Beware of distractions that will impede your productivity. Put a do not disturb sign on your front door to avoid unexpected interruptions. If you have kids, drop them at daycare like you would if you were heading to the corporate office. Make sure you have a comfortable workspace, the right equipment and invest in an office chair that provides good support. Finally, don’t let yourself become isolated. Make a point to get out and network.”

 

6. Block off time

Janice MarsJanice Mars

Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude

“In our virtual world, many of us work remotely. This type of freedom is great unless you have an issue with distractions – such as your family, your dogs, the FedEx guy or simply your email notifications. Many would advise you to turn off your email notifications. However, my recommendation is to also block off certain times of the day to check emails. And, only look at them during those blocks of time you allocated. This will allow you to stay focused on your priorities without the risk of distraction.”

 

7. Keep a routine in place

Sarah DuffySarah Duffy

Talent Specialist at OpenView Venture Partners

“I’ve found that the lack of an office can lead to a scattered workday (i.e. working too much, too little, or at odd hours). However by mimicking elements of the routine you’d keep as an in-office employee, your productivity will be noticeably more stable. As a remote employee myself, some things I’ve committed to being consistent with are my wake-up time, “start” and “stop” times for my work day, and the amount of time I allow myself to step away for lunch or coffee. Choose a few things that you want to be consistent with on a daily-basis, include them in your calendar every day, and you’ll see it becomes a lot easier to stay focused and on-task.”

 

8. Focus on results, not time

Jeff HadenJeff Haden

Ghostwriter, Speaker, and Contributing editor at Inc. Magazine

“In some organizations it’s enough to show up and put in your time; what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present. (We’ve all known people who have a positions but don’t actually work.) That’s obviously not the case for employees working outside of headquarters. Results, not presence, are everything. Great remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. Who cares if a task “should” take a week; if it can be completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks. Great remote employees finish tasks ahead of time—and ask for more.”

 

9. Leverage an enterprise social network

Matt BennettiMatt Bennetti

Senior Director of Corporate Development at Salesforce

“Many great ideas and innovations happen in the “seams” of the work day; side conversations before and after meetings, chats in the kitchen, lunches, drinks, and any other time you bump into colleagues.  When you work remotely you lose that interaction and you need a way to make up for the loss.  Enterprise social networks like Salesforce Chatter give you the opportunity to re-create that collaboration. With Chatter, I can participate in an ongoing company dialogue taking place every day in the company feed. For example, I get feedback on ideas, post interesting articles and comment on co-workers posts. I make an effort to contribute at least one good post daily on Chatter injecting me into the daily consciousness of my co-workers without being physically present.”

10. Deliver consistent results

Liz HallLiz Hall

VP of People at Trello

“When you work remotely, your focus has to be on getting things done that are visible to others in the company. This should be the case for on-site employees as well. But keep in mind, when you work in an office, sometimes you can get away with just being visible, and not necessarily making your work visible or conveying daily progress. With remote work, the need to consistently deliver results is even higher, because nobody sees you every day – and they can’t see you actually working.”

 

11. Create a professional at-home work arrangement

Laura ShinLaura Shin

Contributor at Forbes Magazine

“Working from home does not mean tolerating an inferior technology setup to what you’d find in a traditional office. Employees need a quiet workspace, high-speed internet, enough memory on their computer, an adequately fast processor, and whatever other systems and tools they need to do their work. Overall, creating a successful remote work setup is a win-win in many respects.”

 

12. Manage your energy, not your time

Maren Kate DonovanMaren Kate Donovan

COO of Roam International

“If the idea of managing your energy versus your time inexplicably inspires a sigh of relief, good news: you’re sane. Managing your energy makes sense because it’s something you can control. Time, on the other hand, is often an elusive frenemy: sometimes on our side, but more often not. Establish simple rituals that give you energy, rather drain it away. For example, insert 15-minute walks into your morning and afternoon work schedules. And stick to it! Although it may feel like a conflict of interest to tear yourself away from your computer and stop typing that one last email, the short break will get your blood flowing, increase oxygen to your brain, and fundamentally increase your energy.”

 

12. Own your schedule

Lauren MaffeoLauren Maffeo

Content Editor at GetApp.com

“One of the great things about remote work is the freedom to design your own schedule. Are you a night owl who gets more done after sunset? Does a lunchtime workout help you focus each afternoon? Remote work is more self-directed — which means you have the autonomy to make your own workday. High performance teams do not work from 9-5. But the onus is still on you to stay in touch with your team. They need to trust that you are working on the right projects and not getting distracted throughout the day. Before you take off for that 12:30 spin class, have an honest conversation with your boss. Put your key goals for achievement on the table. Then, design a schedule that allows you to contribute in a way that suits when you work best and keeps you on track towards achieving these to-dos. This gives you a sense of ownership and keeps your colleagues informed.”

 

14. Pick up the phone

Emily LaRuschEmily LaRusch

CEO and Founder of Back Office Betties, LLC

“Communication is key when working remotely. It’s easy to feel cut off from the rest of the company so make sure and pick up the phone more and email less so that you can foster relationships with co-workers and your boss. As a manager, I schedule weekly meetings with each department to review accomplishments, goals and challenges as a team. Even though the team is remote these structured and short meetings are serve to keep team members connected.”

 

15. Make yourself available

Vladimir Gendelman

Founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc.

“Part of your job as a salesperson is to answer customers’ questions, resolve potential problems, work with the parent company or vendor, and maintain great relationships with existing customers. That means you’ve got a lot of incoming calls and emails to deal with—and it’s frustrating for people to try to reach a sales rep who never answers their phone. Make sure you check your messages regularly, respond as quickly as possible, and organize your inbox so nothing falls through the cracks. This availability will help you build trust with your customers and colleagues alike. If you are going to be unavailable (because hey, everybody needs a break sometimes), do your best to let everyone know when they can expect to hear back from you.”

Put these 15 tips to use and visit the Peak Sales Career Blog for the latest actionable insights on how to advance your sales career.

Taylor Dumouchel

Marketing Specialist at Peak Sales Recruiting
Taylor spent her first years in the recruiting business helping employers find top performing sales executives and then worked her way up through the ranks, becoming a specialist in marketing and an expert in B2B sales and hiring matters. A graduate from the University of Ottawa, she regularly contributes to the Peak Sales blog.
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