Managing remote salespeople isn’t without its challenges. But done well, managing remote salespeople is incredibly empowering.
The key to success is having the right systems and processes in place. But there’s another piece you’ll need that transcends beyond any process or tool—and that’s trust.
Let’s explore why trust is everything when it comes to managing remote salespeople, and figure out how you can master this area of sales management.
Managing Remote Salespeople with Trust
I’d like to stress this first, before anything.
If you’re controlling, if you’re a micromanager, if you have trust issues—managing remote salespeople is going to be VERY difficult for you unless you’re willing to change your mindset.
Believe it or not, not everyone is out to scam you. Not everyone is trying to pull one over on you. BUT, those types of people DO exist. That’s why—rather than acting like a crazy person AND stressing yourself out—you should focus your energy on putting systems and processes in place that will hold your team accountable. We’ll talk more about this later.
But for now, let’s focus on trust.
The Importance of Trust
It’s important to establish a high level of trust with any person that you hire. For remote salespeople, it starts with having the right hiring and onboarding processes. Trust starts right from the beginning. And it’s all about tuning into your intuition for this.
But what exactly is trust? The first definition of trust on Merriam-Webster.com is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
Trust means relying on another person to do the right thing. You believe that they are a person of integrity, and you are willing to stick your neck out for them because of this.
As a CEO or Sales Manager, trusting your employees is the only way. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them. Or, if they’re already on your team, get to the bottom of the issue. Then, decide whether this person should stay on the team or if it’s time to cut ties.
Trust and respect go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to begin with trust. Many people like to say that “trust is earned” and they vet people for years on end. This is not an effective way to manage and can actually cause more harm than good.
Leader or Parent?
Mistrust in your employees can be very damaging, especially to employees that don’t deserve it. If you’re constantly questioning what your employees are doing, you’re opening the door for trouble.
Before you lash out at an employee or question their activity, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?”
If you feel like they’re underperforming, address it in an appropriate way. Set up a meeting or use your quarterly one-on-one meeting or annual review to address any issues.
Remember, you’re not your employees’ parent! It’s not your responsibility to track every second of your employees’ time. All this does is take you away from your own responsibilities. So give a little grace here. Trust your employees.
Ways to Establish Trust:
Expecting perfection from someone else while not practicing what you preach is a recipe for disaster.
Leading by example means doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Are your activities and behavior aligned with the organization and your goals? Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Do you mean what you say? Is acting from and with integrity something you pride yourself on? Do you keep your promises?
On the flipside, do you say one thing and do another? Are you unwilling to do the things you demand and expect of others? Do you often have unrealistic expectations?
Being a leader means leading by example. It means being the first one to do the right thing.
If you want to build trust with the people on your sales team, lead from the front. Focus on your own behaviors and actions first.
Having open and honest communication with your sales team is vital to trust. Communication is the gateway to knowledge. So keep frequent and open communication in mind, always.
As you manage your remote sales team, you’ll want to make sure you have processes in place to make communicating easy. A weekly sales meeting is a must. It’s an opportunity for everyone to sync up and keep momentum rolling.
If just the phone works for your team, go with it. Other teams might need a little more interaction. In this case, I’d recommend using a platform that allows for video—like Skype, GoToMeeting, etc.
Between meetings, ensure that you have processes in place to make the team feel connected. You might consider having coaching calls with your team members or assigning smaller teams with one team member as the coach or team lead.
There are so many ways to communicate today. The key here is making sure you don’t drop the ball. Stay connected to your team and encourage your team to stay connected to each other for support.
Trust goes both ways. As you lead by example and create streams of communication with your team, don’t forget to ask for feedback.
Being open to feedback will make you better, I promise!
Think about it this way: you can keep doing the same ol’ thing and wonder why it’s not working. Or, you can encourage your sales team to share feedback with you (about anything!) and get to the bottom of an issue. Which will get you to your goals? I’m confident the feedback route will get you there. Burying your head in the sand is not an effective way to lead or manage.
As a remote sales manager, asking for feedback often is to your benefit. It’s better to get ahead of a potential issue as opposed to dealing with a problem after the fact. Encourage individuals on your sales team to come to you directly for feedback related to you, management, or company concerns.
For other feedback about things like sales methods and processes that involve the team, you might consider adding a section in the forums area of your Sales PlayBook called “Feedback,” and using it as a place for the team to share feedback. But be cautious. You don’t want this to become the “complaint committee” forum. Be clear about your intentions with the team. Let them know that the “Feedback” forum is for problem-solving issues that involve the team.
Encouraging collaboration will help build trust between you and your team members and between the individuals on your team.
Use your Sales PlayBook to keep the team collaborating. The “Success Stories” section is a great place for this. At the end of each week, ask each salesperson to share their best success story to keep your PlayBook active and the team engaged.
You might also consider creating triads within your team. This helps immensely with collaboration and will help you avoid the “island” mentality that can crop up with remote sales teams. I mentioned coaches earlier. You might consider creating teams of three and assigning a coach, or asking for a volunteer coach. The responsibility of the coach is to keep the team on task. The coach ensures that phone calls happen and that initiatives are addressed.
If members of your sales team are meeting via phone or video chat on a weekly basis to help each other, they’ll drive each other. And you’ll watch the power of collaboration at work!
Nothing builds trust better than actually knowing a person. But you can’t get to know a person if you don’t spend time together.
Collaboration isn’t the same as getting to know someone personally. And getting to know someone on a personal level when they’re working remotely can be challenging. But it’s not impossible!
Consider going back into your Sales PlayBook forums for this. We’ve worked with many clients who’ve added a forum discussion that is personal in nature—like book clubs. But the one that we’ve seen have huge success is the “Something You’re Passionate About” discussion. This gives team members an opportunity to share something near and dear, which helps others build a bond.
We’d also recommend having an annual in-person retreat for your sales team. It should include sales training and personal development initiatives, along with some bonding and team building initiatives. Having the retreat open to your team member’s spouses/partners and families can also be hugely beneficial. This way, team members are more than just fellow salespeople: they’re friends, parents, and spouses!
Managing Remote Salespeople: Moving Forward
So as you're managing remote salespeople, don't forget about trust!
Want more on managing remote salespeople? We have a great webinar on How to Manage a Remote Sales Team. Click here or on the image below to get signed up!
How to Manage a Remote Sales Team
Managing a sales team is challenging as it is, and adding the “remote” dynamic to the mix brings a whole new layer. But done successfully, managing a remote sales team is incredibly empowering. Download eBook Now!