4 Best Practices for Aligning Sales and Marketing Internationally
For many salespeople out there, remote sales work is a decidedly attractive dream.
And working from home is often as far from being a dream as possible. In sales, efficiency, progress-tracking, and team-alignment are paramount. Once you go remote, each area can take a hit. This makes many employers unhappy about ditching offices.
But if you find the right approach to it, remote work can be more productive and definitely more healthy. As more salespeople work from home, it’s important to solve a few practical challenges.
Here are some tips to help you get the first couple of months right:
Establish Clear Goals — and Stick to Them
Remote work means evaluating results and not the time people spend at the office.
Working towards results is obviously the most productive approach, and in the absence of clear goals, it can lead to confusion. It’s no fun spending a hard weeks’ work pursuing a lead… only to learn that your employer doesn’t care.
Once a remote sales team settles into their processes and tools, managers should discuss a fairly strict 30-60-90 day sales plan with them. Agree on ways to approach possible bottlenecks and challenges. Focus on actions you want to take.
Leaders should make sure that everybody on the team fully understands what the goals and required actions mean. At this point, consistent over-communication is your best friend. Make sales objectives and your expectations obvious.
Remote workers, for their part, should be clear about the time and resources they need in order to complete a task. Don’t over-promise during the initial stages of setting up a remote work process.
Instead, dedicate approximately 20% more time to each task (compared to the time you think it would take). This will give you a bit of a leeway to act upon unexpected challenges without hurting your relationship with the team leader.
On a related note, remote sales reps should always speak up about the challenges each task presents them with. As employers can’t follow their work the same way they would at the office, it’s on remote workers to notify direct managers and other stakeholders if a task takes more time than planned. You’ll note that also for the remote sales team member over-communication is an important tool.
Scheduling an end-of-the-week report is a good practice. This will motivate remote workers to get things done while giving them an opportunity to share their progress. For managers of remote teams, weekly reports are an unobtrusive way to track results and keep everything in check.
Remotely located salespeople will find that consistently providing updates on progress results in fairer and more positive management assessment of their progress. In short, communicating on progress is a stellar way to do all-important upward stakeholder management.
Learn to Manage Time
Remote workers, listen up.
When working from home, time is your worst enemy. It’s as easy to overwork as it is to not work at all. Distractions, procrastination, and lack of judgment are a real, permanent threat to your sales productivity.
Here’s a tip from productivity expert Cal Newport that will set you up for long-lasting success. Instead of a to-do list, block off working hours in your calendar. What gets planned gets done!
Try to defend that time as much as possible: block distracting websites and ads, put your phone on DND, and so on. It’s not easy, but you’ll get more things done. It’s a great feeling to switch off the laptop when you know you were on top of your game.
Employers should urge their sales reps to spend some time thinking about the way they work. Without clearly defined working time remote employees risk working more than they should. This is a nightmare for sales motivation, as employee productivity peaks at 3-4 hours of work and falls sharply after 6-7 hours.
Regular overtime leads to burnout, stress and failed deadlines, which are never fun.
Invest in the Right Tools
Remote work is all about the tools you use and the processes they support. Without the right tools, it’ll be impossible to set your sales reps up for success. Employers should make it as easy as possible for a remote team to work and track progress.
You’ll find more sales tools to integrate into your workflow in this post. In any case, spend the first week or two making sure that your remote sales team knows and likes tools they will use. Otherwise, they won’t engage with them — and you’ll learn about it too late.
Promote Social Interactions
Number one challenge for remote workers, besides distractions? Lack of social interactions — the ‘watercooler moments’ so essential to office culture.
As we mentioned before, employers can mitigate this by using tools like Slack and HipChat. Promote interaction between remote sales reps. Create channels and groups for them to discuss both work and their downtime.
Organizing meetups and social events should also be encouraged when working with a remote team. Even though digital communication is valuable in terms of achieving productivity, socializing in real life is significantly better for building trust and exchanging ideas.
For example, GitHub brings the whole team to meet each other in person twice a year. GitHub’s co-founder Chris Wanstrath believes that such get-togethers are essential for achieving positive company culture.
Team leaders should schedule time for video calls. Discuss progress and challenges in person! This will help you establish trust and see if your team members are happy with their work. Norman Behar, the founder of the Sales Readiness Group, is adamant that video calls are one of the best tools to make your remote team more efficient.
Resist the Urge to Micromanage
This one goes for the employers. When you don’t see your employees in the office, it’s tempting to track every little thing they do.
Micromanagement is intrusive, and will only succeed at demotivating your workers. If you don’t let your hires go about their daily tasks without reporting to you, they won’t feel trusted. What’s worse, they’ll be inclined to take fewer risks and stop at a bare minimum of work.
Instead of telling team members what to do, hint at the direction they should be thinking in. Even if they stumble on a deal, compliment things they got right. Try to act as a coach and learn how to motivate your sales team.
In the absence of office, it’s that much important to guide them. But remember that people choose remote work because they want more freedom, not less.
By 2027 more than a third of all global employees will work from home.
Which is good, all things considered. Studies are adamant that remote work increases employee’s happiness and productivity. 77% of remote workers report achieving more in less time.
The work is going remote — and more and more people want to try it. If you’re working in sales, it’s important to start adapting to this new reality as soon as possible. Hopefully, today’s article will start you on the right track!