managing sales team

Remote work is on the rise. As a manager, how can you track the performance of your sales team, in order to establish trends and predict business growth as more companies embrace working with remote teams? 

Besides sales metrics, managers and business owners need to keep in mind aspects such as sales processes, efficiency, communication, and especially the creation of a remote work culture that employees have embraced and are committed to do everything they can to make it work for everyone: bosses, coworkers, stakeholders and customers.

This is the time to leverage the capabilities and advantages of cloud-based technology. Data doesn’t have to be siloed, or resting in desktop computers that only a few employees have access to. Data is here to be used, to optimize everyone’s work and, most importantly, to make decisions that help your company grow. 

Commercient SYNC has helped inside and outside sales teams to have access to key customer data in different devices, manage leads and opportunities, optimize their time in the field, be more productive, close deals, and provide an enhanced customer service. 

The technology is there, and in order to get the most out of those investments and truly make a difference in the company, a new culture needs to emerge. This is a process, it’s true, but just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, no change can come unless managers and employees take the first step towards a culture that embraces innovation and seizes new opportunities and trends.

As a company, Commercient walked the talk using Zoom for its global team communication, and to provide embedded live support in its unique training environment. Besides the security of the system and the frictionless video conferencing for staff and client meetings, Commercient chose Zoom to connect clients to a support technician via video in real time, in its VR environment to provide customers with an interactive guidance to implement its integration technology.

“Everything in this [virtual training environment] runs within a web browser, so one of the requirements was that the solution had to be able to run in a web browser,” said Richard Jenkins, co-founder of Commercient.

This change has made a positive impact not only in client onboarding and interaction, but in how the whole organization, sales, customer service and support interact with each other as well.

As a manager, you may have some concerns about how to successfully manage your sales staff and projects remotely. Here are some of the most common concerns and tips to tackle each of them to ensure goals are met and your team is as engaged as in the office (if not more):

Tracking People’s Time

This is especially important if your employees are hired per hour. How can you make sure that they’re working the corresponding hours each day/week? There are time tracking softwares such as Screenshot Monitor, that will allow you to see how many hours your employees are working on projects, and compare it with the invoices they send or the contract terms. 

If your company doesn’t work on hourly contracts, but project based or according to specific results, project management software such as Trello, Monday or Asana can work to track how many of those goals are met: how many calls were made, how many new leads, customers served, and more.

These are some tools Kelly Michael Skelton, System Architect at Fiber Optic Center, recommends in a recent article with tips to work remotely. He also recommends setting up a clear schedule. “Blocking off certain hours of the day for different tasks / meetings can help. I also make checklists every day of what I need to accomplish and what I hope to accomplish,” he explains. According to Skelton, these tasks may spillover into the following day, but it is still helpful to visualize responsibilities.

Choose The Right People

Can you “trust” your staff to work as efficiently at home as in the office (if not more)? Research shows people tend to be and feel more productive at home, but as a manager, it can be a challenge to correctly “assess” your own employees could make it work from home.  

There are some attributes to consider, such as discipline, proactiveness, being a self starter, and efficient time and stress management. Since they’re “on their own”, it’s important they feel personally responsible for getting things done, and communicate constantly with managers and coworkers as necessary.

Creating this remote work culture requires reinforcing these attributes in your team, and making sure any new hires have experience or the potential to develop them as well. Although is not possible to accurately predict a potential new employee’s performance in the job interview, there are questions you can ask: 

-Have you ever worked alone/remotely?

-Have they worked or managed a team that is not at the same location/country?

-Do you consider yourself a self starter? Can you give an example?

-Do you have specific, consistent habits in your routine (exercising, getting up at the same time, yoga, reading, etc.)

-Have you used project management software or CRM systems? How comfortable are you with this technology?

Project Timelines, Deadlines And Communication

In order to make everything work efficiently and meet goals, setting up firm project deadlines is a must. Especially with your team working from home, leaving projects hanging or to complete “when there’s some time”, is not going to do you, your employees or your company any good.

Time is money, and projects without clear deadlines is money lost in the long -and maybe not so long- run. Time is not something people “have”, it is something people “create” according to their priorities. So make sure your team has those priorities clear, especially during stressful times.

Deadlines need to be defined according to detailed and realistic project timelines, so your team knows what needs to happen now, and next, until the whole project is successfully completed. This doesn’t only help with the logistics, but reduces uncertainty and the stress that comes with it, since everyone is clear on their role at each step.

This cannot happen without clear and constant communication. To ensure everyone is on the same page and there are no duplicate efforts, technology has made it a lot easier: email, chat apps, video conference software for meetings such as Zoom, and remote team collaboration tools such as Google Suite and Quip (Salesforce).

As they say it themselves, with Quip employees can be on the same page without being at the same place. It combines documents, spreadsheets, and chat, to help distributed teams to work together effectively. For now, until September 2020, Salesforce has made this technology available for free.

Underperforming Team Members

Is there any team member struggling to meet deadlines or achieve sales quotas? Opening communication channels is crucial to find out what’s going on, in order to make decisions that correct any mistakes or deficiencies in the systems the team is currently using.

What can an open, thoughtful conversation do in these cases? First of all, you can detect problems the team is facing that you maybe weren’t aware of: communication problems among team members, a tool not working correctly, and even non-cloud based solutions that cause double data entry, duplicate efforts, errors, and data not synced between systems. 

That’s one of the main benefits the manufacturing company Gecko Alliance, a Commercient’s customer, perceives by using Salesforce and connecting it with their ERP, Infor Visual, through SYNC. At first, the Sales team showed some resistance towards the use of a CRM and other systems, since they felt like a struggle having to dedicate time to enter data into Salesforce. 

That has changed now. “In the last sales meeting, they all said ‘we can’t live without it anymore. This is our true source of data, this is where everything we do is happening.’ It pushed Salesforce into the front end for them. They know that without SYNC they couldn’t be doing what they’re doing right now,” said Elodie Martinez, Salesforce Administrator at Gecko Alliance.

Other useful tools are help desks and online FAQs pages, that can provide answers and resolve issues for employees and customers.

Reward Your Thriving Team Members

How about your top performers, those that consistently meet deadlines and reach -or exceed- sales quotas? If they’re working remotely, an “employee of the month” card in the office might not be the best way to show recognition, but there are other ways to show them how valuable they are to the team and the company. 

Mentions in the company chat can go a long way to show someone he/she is appreciated, and there are other perks such as rewards to meeting specific goals, bonuses, training/certifications at no cost to the employee… To keep a remote sales team motivated and thriving every time, having good communication is key to help them not feel isolated. Whether they work at the office or remotely, they all need to feel they’re part of a company that is up to do something great.

With a remote sales team, watching salespeople’s interactions with leads and customers is not always a possibility. That’s why it’s important to have processes in place that provide direction and clarify what’s expected from them every step of the way.

Having systems talking to each other and data that, instead of siloed, is easily accessible from any device goes a long way in helping a team to thrive. Remote workers need tools to help them optimize their time and resources, and Commercient SYNC can be a great ally in creating an innovative culture in your company. Let’s talk about connecting your CRM to your ERP today.