How to Motivate Your Remote Sales Team
The pandemic changed remote work teams from an interesting idea for some to a necessity for many. Now, certain companies have learned that many roles may simply be best left remote. That’s not a bad thing. Research has revealed the benefits of remote teams. One Stanford study even found remote workers were 13% more productive.
Sales teams are ripe for remote work. By nature, these positions usually involve schedule flexibility, diverse tasks and the need to not be tied to one place all the time. These teams tend to have their share of self-motivated personalities who don’t need a lot of hand-holding. That said, if you oversee a remote sales team, you still need to find ways to motivate everyone. That can be a challenge without regular face-to-face contact.
Here are six things to consider when it comes to motivating your remote sales team.
1. Find individual drivers
We all appreciate being acknowledged and valued for our individual attributes and contributions. Yet, what drives you to succeed is likely different from the person next to you. As a supervisor, it’s important to learn what drives each individual team member.
Some associates may be driven by closing deals. Things like quotas and leaderboards work well for them. Others value partnership, so they may want to work in groups and with partners. Some may have unique motivations. For example, a female employee may strive for success on a team made up mostly of males. Another person might be motivated by independence, advancement or new responsibilities.
Finding individual drivers is a process. If you have a new hire, you may start with a questionnaire to help you understand personality traits. You can also have an onboarding interview and ask about work style and preferences. Beyond that, use team huddles, weekly meetings and other virtual gatherings to open up conversations to learn more about specific employees and their motivations. Learning what drives your employees to succeed also builds trust. Not feeling trusted by their boss is one of the top 5 deal breakers for remote workers.
2. Set clear, obtainable goals
Goals are essential for any sales team. They help team members understand what’s expected of them. Simply understanding what’s expected of you is one of Gallup’s 12 key elements of employee engagement.
Make sure goals are realistic and achievable. Help remote team members understand rationale and motivation behind goals, too. Talking about that can help a salesperson identify challenges ahead of time and they can tell you if a goal is achievable or not up front. Then you can strategize or alter goals, if needed.
Consider goals that go beyond closing deals, too. Think of it this way. Selling is a process. It goes from lead generation to qualifying leads and then varying levels of engagement before an actual sale happens. You can set goals for lead generation, face-to-face engagements, cross-selling and upselling, even customer support—a whole number of things that matter when it comes to selling and keeping customers happy.
And don’t forget to reward employees for achieving those goals. Don’t assume everyone wants a certain gift card or weekend getaway either. When you set goals, build in incentives you know will resonate with teams and certain individuals. You won’t offer the perfect incentive for everyone every time, so mix it up to respect the needs and preferences involved.
3. Invest in their home
With a remote team, it’s easy to get caught up in making sure everyone attends the weekly Zoom call. Or to make sure they follow through on certain tasks. But since you don’t see your workers all the time, you may not know if their physical environment is conducive to work. And they probably won’t tell you if it’s not.
Ask employees if they need something for their home office. A better desk? A new chair? Many times, especially if a team member is highly motivated, he or she might overwork themselves and forget to ask for help or something basic. You can bring it up at a weekly huddle meeting or address it individually, but let the team know if the company will help pay for something in their home workspace.
4. Follow through on improvements
Sales teams need to have the tools they need to succeed. Along the way, adjustments need to be made. New tools are added and the items that no longer serve are phased out.
Whether you’re updating the CRM, lead generation, project management, data analysis or other sales tools or installing upgrades to existing systems, follow through on your promises. Yes, delays happen. But good communication about timelines for system and process changes is key. As long as your team knows you are committed to making their processes, systems and tools the best they can be, they’ll cut you some slack when glitches occur.
5. Educate them
In sales, the more success you have, the more money you make. So, all sales teams, to some extent, are motivated to improve performance in order to earn more. So, offer them educational opportunities to help them thrive. You can even incentivize them with time off, more leads or other perks. Educational opportunities also foster a growth mindset for your team.
Vary topics. Workshops about effective sales, market dynamics and product updates can all help sharpen their skills.
And don’t forget to mix up how education is delivered. Just as there are different drivers for each team member, each one learns differently as well. Some are fine with passive learning experiences like videos, briefs and lectures. But active learners enjoy discussions, forums and debates that get them involved. Take it a step further. Roll up your sleeves and take a class or workshop with your employees. You may discover other ways you can motivate them in the future.
Being part of a remote team doesn’t mean you avoid face-to-face interaction entirely. It’s a good idea to set aside at least one time each year where you all gather together. Company retreats have been found to improve productivity. You can sprinkle some sales talk in there, but these experiences should allow the team to separate from the work grind and enjoy downtime together. You can also build in teamwork activities if that fits with your work culture.
Retreats nudge team members outside of their roles and reveal personalities that you may want to nurture for career advancement that would mutually benefit your company.
Wrapping it up
Sales team members who are engaged in their work usually have a supervisor who is actively involved in their success. You want to be that engaged supervisor. In return, when engaged employees feel valued, they’re not afraid to ask for help, initiate change and reward you with great performance and a winning attitude.
Ray Ko has been creating effective visual merchandising and interior design strategies for retailers for more than 20 years. Today, he is the senior ecommerce manager for shopPOPdisplays, a leading designer and manufacturer of stock and custom acrylic product.