Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 2 years, you are well aware that remote sales work has become very popular. In this article, we have some tips and tricks for you to dominate remote sales.
Since January of 2020, many jobs that once took place in an office setting, have now moved into the home of the employee. That’s right- since January 2020, remote work is up 15%.
Industries such as manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and financial services have been affected by remote work. Specifically, in the world of sales, the US census found that there are approximately 5.7 million professional salespeople in the U.S, and field sales make up 52.8%. That’s more than 3 million people who suddenly became full-time remote sellers.
This massive change in the work environment has caused sales leaders to train their sales teams remotely. The training that employees once received in person, must now be done virtually thru platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Whether you’re a sales rep, sales leader, or sales trainer, your role has been directly affected by remote work. It’s important to understand what remote sales is, how to build your remote sales team and what it takes for that team to be successful in a virtual selling environment.
In this guide, we will walk you thru all of the important tips and tricks necessary to dominate the world of remote sales. We’ll go over what remote sales is, why and how you can hire a remote team and how to create an effective onboarding process. Read on to learn more!
What are Remote Sales?
Remote selling is the process by which a sales rep prospects, engages, and sells, all in a virtual setting. In other words, the seller and the customer are never in the same physical location.
Interactions in remote settings occur virtually thru different mediums such as text messages, email, social media, or a chat box. Remote selling is driven by an associate-customer interaction. Whether it starts as a response to a chat box option on a sales website or a product recommendation, the interaction is always friendly, and relationship-based. Since this all occurs virtually, there is a bit of nuance involved.
Benefits to Hiring a Remote Sales Team
Larger hiring pool: Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities to connect with prospects and nurture customer relationships. This also means retailers have access to a larger client base that can go beyond their immediate geographical location when hiring reps.
Employers in sales are always in search of talented people that have the desire to succeed in the industry. However, when the talent pool is restricted to a single geographical location, it can limit the number of potential employees available.
Remote sales jobs fix this issue. It gives employers the ability to cast out a wider geographical net and conversely, provides more employment opportunities to people searching for jobs.
Cut down on costs: One of the more obvious benefits of remote selling is that it cuts down on costs. In traditional settings, companies must pay for a rental space, office equipment, furniture, and sometimes even food and coffee expenses. The cost of all of these things can add up quickly. In a remote setting, you still have to ensure you provide your employees with the appropriate hardware however, you will surely be saving a lot of money.
Increase Efficiency: When reps don’t have to drive to multiple locations to reach their prospect, they save time that they can spend on other important tasks. Remote work allows reps to meet and interact with their customer over video platforms such as Zoom.
Remote Work is Empowering: Implementing remote selling for your business can encourage your sales representatives and boost productivity. When reps feel more in control of their day and trusted by their employees, it improves productivity. Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work 2021 report found that 67% of employees were more productive working from home. 57% would prefer to work from home full-time. When you give employees more autonomy, it gives them a sense of ownership and motivates them to work harder.
Face to Face or Remote Sales Work Setting?
Since the rate of remote work has gone up exponentially, studies have shown that people prefer it. A 2020 survey by Slack showed that of 9,000 workers in six countries, 72% prefer a hybrid remote-office model with only 12% preferring to always work in an office setting. They also found that 13% would like to always work from home if given the choice. This is not surprising as there are many benefits to remote work. Remote work employees find pleasure in not having to rely on transportation to get to their job. That means saving big on gas or public transportation. Additionally, they find themselves to be more productive when they are given more autonomy. For workers with young children, they find flexibility in working from home as well.
How to Hire a Remote Sales Team
Developing a remote sales team presents its unique challenges to sales managers that are far different from hiring a team in person. Hiring professionals need to consider:
Skills necessary for the job
Personality and qualities the candidate must have
The hiring process for a remote sales role
How to Create and Manage a Remotes Sales Culture
Working in the office allows for a little informality. You can simply walk up to a rep and ask if they have time for a quick meeting. However, in a remote setting, you must be more intentional. One way you can achieve this is by formally sending out calendar invites to reps for things such as:
- 1-on-1 with your team
- Team meetings that are intended to have morale-boosting activities
- Providing coaching opportunities to help reps with their sales and role at the company
- Regularly scheduled check-ins with each rep to ensure everyone is hitting their sales goals
Finding Your Remote Team
At the start of COVID’s lockdown, it seemed almost comedic that nearly the whole world was going remote. Everyone did their best to get thru those unprecedented times. It became more and more clear that remote work was here to stay. And while some people struggled with this, others thrived.
As you’re building a remote sales team, you want to focus on hiring reps who will thrive on working autonomously. Working remote requires some nuance. Reps who struggle with a virtual work environment will be much harder to train. You want a candidate who can jump right into remote work with total ease.
A good guideline to follow when interviewing candidates is considering someone who:
- Has some remote sales experience
- Is motivated to succeed in a remote setting without being watched 24/7
- Has a reliable remote work setup at home
When managing a sales team remotely, it is impossible to track your rep’s every move. Additionally, why would you want to? You want to have confidence that your rep has integrity for their work and doesn’t need to be babysat. A good way to hire a rep with this quality would be to hire someone with some experience in remote work and who understands what’s expected of a good sales professional.
Hiring a more experienced rep also shortens the onboarding process, since you won’t have to start from ground zero. Training by nature is already a challenging task, adding a remote aspect to it adds another layer of difficulty. However, if you can hire someone with experience in remote sales, then you can go thru the training process with ease.
Qualities in a Remote Sales Rep
Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t give a candidate with limited experience a chance. They may be able to make up for their lack of experience with some amazing qualities that will ensure their success. Some important qualities you want to consider are:
Coachability: In sales, you never stop learning. You want a rep who is willing to receive feedback to improve their sales skills.
Communication: Reps should be quick to communicate via email or messaging platforms. There needs to be an understanding that just because they are working from home, it does not excuse them from replying to messages in a timely manner.
Integrity: Reps who take ownership of their work will always do well, especially in a remote setting. And when mistakes happen, reps should be able to own up to them and work toward improving themselves.
Develop a Full Proof Hiring Process
Hiring reps remotely is a trickier process than doing it in person. When you interview the candidate in person, you get to pick up on nonverbal cues that give you a sense of who they are. Unfortunately, you can’t pick up on that as much in a virtual setting.
For that reason, you want to ensure you’ve developed a rigorous and full-proof interview process by doing a few simple things:
Score System: Setting up a scoring system will help narrow down your top candidates based on the skills and qualities you’re looking for (i.e. remote work experience, sales experience, motivation, easy to coach, etc.)
Team Effort: Don’t try to go thru the hiring process on your own. Involve multiple people in the process, whose opinions you trust. They might be able to pick up on something about the candidate that maybe you failed to see, or they might have some insight on important questions to ask during the interview process.
Mock Call: Do a mock sales call as well as a take-home project to gauge their capabilities. The more you can qualify your rep, the more likely you’ll avoid hiring someone that may not be a good fit for your company.
The Onboarding Process
Congratulations! You’ve hired your rep. Now it’s time to effectively onboard them. Here are some specific steps you should take:
Set your expectations. You and your rep must start on the right foot. You can make sure you’re both on the same page by going over the basics. For example, make sure they understand what the working hours are, how PTO works, and any other procedures and rules that apply to them. Ensuring they understand what is expected of them with help them find success in their role.
Engage your Reps: This is especially true in a work-from-home setting. Lack of rep engagement can lead to higher rep turnover. Make sure you make it a point to have regular one-on-ones with your rep and implement ways reps, their peers, and management can always be in communication.
Set Reps Up for Success: You can do this by giving them all the tools they need for their new role. There are certain platforms and systems that remote reps need to succeed: CRM, coaching tools, chat platforms, and project management tools, just to name a few. The more tools they have in their toolbox, the more likely they are to succeed.
Create an Interactive Onboarding Process: You can do this by having reps participate in fun and engaging remote activities and games that will help them learn. Video training is another great way to help your rep stay engaged with the coaching content. If you inundate your rep with too many boring slide presentations, it will make it harder for them to retrain information. Mix things up by providing them with interactive exercises to engage them in the material.
Why is Remote Selling Important?
In today’s modern B2B world, customers want personalization, and they want it from the convenience of their homes. While more traditional forms of selling like cold calling, email marketing, and conventional networking still work, it is important to adapt to technology’s ever-changing role in business. The remote sales we see now are only a fraction of what it is predicted to be in the future. The sooner businesses can understand and execute a remote work environment, the more likely they are to dominate it.
Need More Help Creating your Remote Sales Team?
At TopLead, we have seasoned sales professionals ready to help you succeed. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started today!