2020 has been a challenging time for everyone, especially for Sales Leaders who weren’t prepared for a shift in workforce dynamics - or a rapid shift to a remote sales team.
And whether you were ready for it or not, you and your sales team were forced to transition into a remote sales environment abruptly. Adapting to Zoom meetings, reviewing pipelines remotely, ensuring that CRM data is tidy and up to date have introduced a lot of newness to get familiar with.
Hopefully, you’ve had time to settle into effectively managing your remote sales team. Now is the time you should be thinking about getting ahead and considering the possibility of a fully-remote sales team, post-pandemic. Have an open mind and ask yourself, “What’s my company’s new normal?”
With that in mind, Oasis Solutions’ Sales Leadership was joined by Steve Mullen, Oracle NetSuite’s Regional VP of Channel Sales. Mullen has been leading remote sales teams for over 26 years and is responsible for over $39 million in annual revenues. Mullen graciously shared his experiences and best practices around how to best position & lead remote sales teams to success.
To help you and your team succeed, we’re sharing four impactful tips that you can implement in 2020 in response to transitioning into remote work. We hope these tips help you position your sales team for success and embrace change, despite the many challenges of not being in a traditional office setting.
1. Start at the Start
Before managing a remote sales team member, make sure you’re completing the proper prep by incorporating some interview questions & assessments to help you gauge that your next candidate can be an effective remote seller or sales manager. Planning at this initial stage will help you set clear goals and expectations for your and their success.
So what qualities should you look for when hiring remote sales staff?
- Prior remote sales experience allows your new team members to focus their energy on learning your business’ services and products and not on learning how to sell through video conferences. Mullen, Regional VP of Channel Sales at Oracle NetSuite, “prefers to have more seasoned sales leaders that have previously “cut their teeth” in sales roles, because they’re probably a little more comfortable working remote and are used to not having the opportunity to stick their head in their boss’ office”.
- Search for people that enjoy and thrive in remote settings and don’t require constant micro-managing to be successful but are still confident enough to ask for help when they need it.
- Assessments that measure a candidate’s attitude can help you choose the right person for the job.
- At Oasis, we use:
- PXT Select - These assessments help HR identify sociability and independence traits required to be successful in remote job roles. We compare our current top employees’ assessment results to candidates’ to see if they will be comfortable in our work environment as well as a good cultural fit.
- DiSC assessments assess a person’s conflict resolution style, problem-solving capabilities, key motivators and what types of situations cause them stress. This helps indicate a candidate’s sociability as well.
- If assessments aren’t viable for you, be sure you’re having engaging conversations with potential candidates and use open-ended, probing questions to better uncover their responses to the above.
- At Oasis, we use:
2. Trust, but Verify
With more team members working remotely, it’s important to feel comfortable knowing that your entire team is engaged and productive. You should feel comfortable trusting their expertise while at the same time striking a balance with verifying their work.
We focus our attention on forecasts and pipeline-building opportunities that are in flight, instead of a heavy activity metrics-driven focus. Your weekly team meetings are a great time to review and inspect your team’s pipeline and to coach them on how to unclog deals in their pipeline.
The most crucial metrics our B2B Sales Managers review in NetSuite CRM are:
- Lead registrations, which indicate New Opportunities and are the foundation for pipeline building.
- Monthly and quarterly Funnel reports for Opportunities. Reviewing opportunities by stage and deals that are stuck in the pipeline.
- Reports that indicate updates and change in Opportunity Status. This allows for management to review daily reports delivered to their inbox while drinking their morning coffee instead of waiting to hear the news in next week’s team meeting.
Mullen shared that he holds a once-weekly update call, where he and his team talk primarily about forecasts and closing dates. He also mentioned that he loves not having to wait for these weekly calls to be notified of any opportunity changes because NetSuite CRM generates this report for him and sends it to his inbox each morning.
3. Establish Mutual Accountability
2020 has brought an abundance of surprises and thrown us into many new situations in which we’ve had little to no control. Fortunately, we do have the power to minimize surprises and disappointment at work by setting ground rules for communication cadence and expectations.
At Oasis Solutions, we advocate setting mutual accountability with our remote sales team members and making sure they are communicated clearly.
Here are some tips to do this effectively:
- Paraphrase all verbal requests, paying special attention to completion and check-in dates.
- Repeating complex requests back to each other may be beneficial as well.
- Share and use an integrated system to track all delegated work.
- Insist on results with no surprises.
- Teach your team how to propose solutions to requests they have to say “No” to.
Mullen also highlighted the importance of managing time when working with remote groups. He said, “I try to hold an update call with team members that are in the same territory once a week to be respectful of everyone’s time and so that everyone gets information that is pertinent to them.”
4. Keep Your Team Engaged
At Oasis Solutions, we proactively create engagement and team-building opportunities for our remote sales team. One of the biggest challenges remote work poses is the potential to lose momentum and productivity. To avoid putting your remote sales team in these situations, you can adapt activities that would have typically been held in the office or at the local watering hole to virtual settings.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Virtual water coolers - These are a great opportunity to bring a little bit of the personal element that is often lacking in remote work back to the fold. Your team can introduce their “colleagues” (furry or human) on camera, show off their remote workspace, host a “show-and-tell”, swap workout plans or quarantine recipes, or share what series they are currently binging on Netflix.
- Virtual happy hours - Schedule a time for your team to meet after hours and unwind on your conference platform with their favorite beverage (alcoholic or not, make sure you include both options to emphasize inclusivity). Designate a host to lead the happy hour in a non-work related discussion that engages all attendees. No formal agenda, but give all attendees a chance to speak with topics ranging from first jobs to childhood aspirations, even favorite hobbies. Make sure you have everyone enable their cameras to maximize the social element and help people to put a face to the name.
- Lunch & learns - Being creative, helpful, and sharing educational resources with your team has been shown to boost employee retention and happiness. Software tutorials, sharing productivity apps, and home IT security might be particularly useful in today’s environment with cyberattacks peaking during COVID-19.
- Company meetings & department meetings - There are two keys to building trust with your team, transparency, and sharing information. You should be sharing updated company scorecards, key metrics, and other updates with your team members to foster an inclusive environment. At the end of the day, they should be knowledgeable about the health of the company as well as any policy changes. Information flow goes both ways, ensuring that your team is provided with a platform to share their ideas and feedback to their colleagues and management.
- Scrums - Have team members share roadblocks and successes throughout their day-to-day activities so that everyone is on the same page and can collaborate together on the best solution to the problem.
- Small peer group meetings - Host a “getting to know you” series for people within the same roles so that team members can build and strengthen their relationship with their colleagues. These should be light and fun!
While all these are excellent ways to bring your remote sales team together, use them wisely - and sparingly. There is such a thing as “Zoom fatigue” and some team members may be experiencing it. Mullen mentioned something similar, “I’m starting to get a sense that people that have been using Zoom for the last couple of months are starting to get Zoom-fatigue, so keep that in mind when planning your virtual events”.
Oasis is hosting an education sales series, starting with a focus on executive sales starting later this month. If you are sales leader that wants to hear strategies to increase your team's sales effectiveness, tips to gain access to decision makers in the current environment, and help identifying weak messaging that might be holding you back - join us on our three part journey. Register here for Part 1: Unclog the Pipeline: How to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Win More Deals
About Oasis Solutions
Oasis Solutions has been recognized as a Best Places To Work award winner for the past three consecutive years. As a fast-growing company, we leverage the best tools and tactics that enable adaptability and growth during these times. Oasis is your local NetSuite CRM partner that offers expertise in accounting, human resource management, and custom software development. We have your long-term plan and business strategy in mind from the get-go.
We don’t just sell software. We are passionate about understanding your company’s processes and committed to your success and reputation long after the go-live date. Providing you with skilled consultants and developers for support, the ability to ask for help, discuss best practices, buying options, pricing, products, and more.
As industry experts, we possess a profound understanding of the software and the knowledge and skills to best tailor your implementations to your individual business needs.
Oasis Solutions has offices in Louisville and Lexington, KY, TN, and NC. Let us help you set your remote team up for success by implementing the best tools.