Emerging from the pandemic, America’s workforce looks completely different, with remote sales forces and work from home becoming the new normal. Many employers with open positions are finding trouble filling them, and the problem doesn’t seem to be going away. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 8.4 million potential workers who could be searching for jobs, yet over 10.9 million job openings. So why is this problem ongoing?
The pandemic made a lot of people reconsider their priorities, and building a remote sales force has become crucial. Plenty of job-seekers now expect a healthier work-life balance, with 71% saying they would like a more flexible, hybrid work schedule. What initially seemed like a brief two-week stint of working from home has completely revolutionized employee expectations, and this new normal isn’t going anywhere. The gap between job-seekers and job openings exists due to the new demand for flexibility and remote work, meaning businesses will need to adapt in order to be able to continue bringing in top talent.
Managing a remote sales force can be daunting for those who are accustomed to in-office work, but building and maintaining remote sales is an absolute must to remain on the cutting edge and ahead of the competition.
Start by Getting Leadership Buy-In on Building a Remote Sales Force
Building a remote sales force starts at the top. Without CEOs and other C-suite executives fully embracing remote work and offering hybrid work at a minimum, businesses will flounder. A survey conducted in May of 2021 showed that of 1,000 U.S. workers, 39% would consider leaving their jobs if remote flexibility went away—and that number is even higher among younger generations, with 49% of Gen Z and Millennial workers saying they would leave. Refusing to adjust to remote work doesn’t just mean you’ll lose top talent, it means you’ll lose a significant portion of your workforce.
So, how do you get C-suite buy-in when executives are hesitant? Focus on the bottom line. Remote work offers savings on overhead and creates a pull for top, high-performing employees to come to your business. You’ll be saving thousands on office space while employee productivity flourishes.
Establish Communication Channels and Standardized Processes
One of the biggest challenges for remote employees is communication. Up to 43% of remote workers have trouble staying focused in meetings, and 19% report feeling socially isolated. Finding ways to engage your remote sales force both socially and in day-to-day work is key for maintaining employee performance and satisfaction. Simple meetings that used to be commonplace in the office, like swinging by a coworker’s desk to ask a quick question, have to take on a new look for remote workers.
Consistent communication and standardized processes help employees stay connected while creating a record of interactions so that no message goes unnoticed. Establishing standardized communication can help the team align on goals and remain informed, with consistency helping to ensure your sales team knows where to locate and share vital information. Fostering digital accessibility among your remote sales force is key. Instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams offer channels for your team to reach out to managers when needed and offer digital accessibility to breach the lack of proximity.
Using customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as HubSpot or SalesForce, improves your team’s ability to manage leads, prospects, and customers digitally by allowing team members to view crucial data, such as how and when the team last communicated with a prospect. Having a centralized, easy to manage space fosters stronger collaboration among team members.
Align on Key Metrics and KPIs
While proper communication encourages your team to perform better, it’s key that you track specific KPIs and metrics to ensure your remote sales force is effectively operating. Research shows that sales representatives only spend roughly 36% of their time on sales, so knowing how effective that time is matters—especially when your sales force is remote. Tracking KPIs gives you a better understanding of the team’s overall productivity and can help identify areas in need of improvement.
Focus on a few easy-to-track, informative metrics:
- Check the team’s call volume. This way, you’ll have a clearer picture of how many leads have been followed up with and what can be done to improve the closing ratio. Look at the closing ratio of your team so you know how often they successfully close deals.
- Track the amount of revenue generated by your sales force. If the closing ratio is low, this could be offset by the monetary value of the individual deals that do close.
Keep the Company Culture Fun No Matter the Distance
One of the biggest challenges remote workers consistently report facing is a lack of social connectivity. With 20% of full-time remote workers reporting daily feelings of loneliness, cultivating a fun, positive company culture can heavily impact employee satisfaction. Finding ways to connect socially and build a strong company culture in a remote sales force is similar to building these relationships in person—it just looks slightly different.
Instead of an in-person, surprise lunch in the break room, try sending snacks or other goodies to employees’ homes. Rather than the usual water cooler conversation, create a channel in Slack for non-work-related chitchat, so that employees can still share details of their personal lives with one another without disrupting established communication channels.
Hire a Sales Consulting Firm to Help You Build Your Remote Sales Force
Building and training a remote sales force is especially daunting for those who are learning to work remotely themselves. It’s tough to know whether you’re equipping team members with the best assets to propel them towards success when you’re still navigating what assets those might be. Hiring a sales consulting firm helps ensure your team is working seamlessly while scattered around the world. Finding the right sales consulting firm to help coach your remote sales force on best practices can elevate your sales team to the next level.
If you’re starting from scratch, or even looking to just expand your current team, sales outsourcing could be the perfect solution for your business. Outsourcing allows you to build a remote sales team easily without having to do the heavy lifting yourself. This option provides a team that is already adapted to working efficiently from home, saving you time and money on training. Outside sales consultants and sales enablement experts can help set up and build a fully remote sales force with high-performing, happy sales reps.
Building an effective remote sales force is crucial for adapting and thriving in a post-pandemic world. Creating and supporting remote employees with standardized communication and strong company culture helps attract and retain top talent to keep you ahead of the competition.
To help you find the best solution to build and optimize your remote sales team, get in touch with us. Our expert sales consultants will work with you to find the best ways to maximize the efficiency and capabilities of your remote sales force.