How to succeed in remote sales
– 5 habits for remote employees and managers to live by –
The phenomenon of remote work just keeps gaining momentum. Just about every set of remote work statistics point to a mass uptake in remote work – or location independent careers if you want to get fancy about it.
A recent Gallup survey revealed that 43% of the US workforce engaged in some type of work from home last year, which represents a 4% increase since 2012. It’s easy to see why when you consider all the remote employee benefits for sales teams.
Highlighting the satisfaction levels of remote employees, Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report found that a whopping 90% of respondents reported that they planned to work remotely for the rest of their careers and 94% encouraged others to take up remote work.
But remote work does not come without its challenges, especially in terms of remote workforce engagement.
Luckily, there a number of remote employee best practices that both salespeople and managers can employ to rise above these hurdles. By putting together the Remote-How Academy have already done the homework for you. Here are 5 habits we have found to lead to success in remote sales.
1. Keep the business end at the start of the day
World leaders and giants of industry often share common traits: ambition, self-discipline and the ability to prioritize, just to name a few. But the real secret of their success is that they make the big and tough decisions in the morning when the mind is sharp and fresh.
These are habits that the best remote salespeople also live by. They dedicate their mornings to strictly sales-related tasks, i.e. anything that can directly lead to a sale. Otherwise admin, social media, emails, chores, children and all the other the distractions of working from home can drain your energy and distract you from the end goal – and that’s selling.
So begin the day with some prospecting or strategic planning. Meet clients over a morning coffee. Block your mornings for sales calls.
And you’ll find it works both ways. Your clients might also be more willing to engage in the morning.
2. Make it routine
One of the biggest advantages of remote work is the flexibility it offers. But sometimes too much flexibility can be a bad thing. Flexible work does not mean structureless work.
With a routine, you can inject a bit of structure into your workday.
Keep up with the Joneses. Before firing up your computer, try to leave the house in the morning, just as your neighbors do when they scurry off to their day jobs. Walk your dog or drop off your child at daycare, and return to your home office just as the rest of the world arrives at their cubicles.
Another great idea is to assign a strict time during the day for emails. If you’ve adopted the first habit outlined above, then mid-morning might be best, just after the heavy lifting is out of the way. Just keep in mind the locations and thus time zones of your clients. No one wants to receive an email at midnight. In saying that, you could always use an email tool to delay the dispatch of emails.
Block specific times of the day for specific tasks, monitor your productivity (time vs output) for each block and play around with the arrangement of the blocks over the day to achieve the most productive workday schedule.
Also, try to recognize the usual meal times.
This will help you avoid feeling isolated as well as encourage structure and stable productivity in your working day. And to prepare you for the next day, knock off at around the same time every day. Head out for a jog or meet friends for an after-work drink. So when you return, you’ll return home and not to your home office.
3. Implement processes
The best sales managers engage in a similar practice when managing a remote workforce. The terminology is just different. Instead of ‘routine’, they call it ‘process’, ‘protocol’ or even a ‘remote employee handbook’.
Processes ensure that the whole remote sales team works not just in the same direction but in the right direction. That is especially important when the remote salesforce is spread over different countries and time zones.
A remote employee handbook that clarifies and systemizes sales tasks, such as lead generation, demos, follow-ups, and sales proposals, helps both the remote salesperson in terms of efficiency and the manager when it comes to monitoring performance.
There are many remote work management tools out there (e.g. ClickUp and Asana) that are great at synching and managing sales tasks across teams.
4. Leverage tech and engage
Some of the greatest ideas have been hatched in the office kitchen, around the coffee maker or at the water fountain. Most companies (think Google) try to design their offices to promote these moments, that is, synergies and cross-fertilization among employees. But what if you’re working from home?
Professional social networks like Salesforce Chatter are really effective at keeping remote employees connected.
Conferences and quarterly meet-ups provide the type of personal interaction that really helps to consolidate team cohesion. But they’re not cheap nor regular.
Video communication software, on the other hand, can add that personal touch to remote employee communication for little money and hassle. So arrange a video meet-up once or twice a week to share successes, tips and updates.
5. Focus on the outcome
Time is a state of mind, as they say. The same could be said for deadlines and remote work.
As a remote salesperson, you are a master of your own time – and not the opposite. After all, this is one of the main distinctions between remote work and the standard structured job. What does this mean?
It means that a task stamped with a week deadline doesn’t necessarily require 5 business days to complete. You’d be surprised how much you can achieve by simply relabelling the deadline in your mind.
The quicker you complete a task, the sooner you’ll be able to move onto the next, and the next and the next until it becomes a habit. All of a sudden you’ll find yourself always finishing tasks ahead of time, increasing your chance of making more sales.
It’s a practice that sets the best salespeople above the rest.
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