With the majority of businesses relying on remote operations to avert the spread of the coronavirus, sales leaders are being compelled to adjust to operating their sales teams remotely.
While adjusting to the new normal, it is only natural for the employees to flounder a bit. Unfavorable work conditions and an increased pressure of completing the tasks at hand remotely can often have lasting impacts on their overall productivity levels in the long term.
Fortunately, you can aid them in various ways to keep this from happening. Though there are a myriad of challenges posed while managing remote teams (more so if your organization wasn’t even prepared to make the change in the first place), the pandemic is opening many employers’ eyes to the possibilities that a remote team offers.
Putting in just a little bit of supplemental effort can take your organization a very long way when trying to navigate remote work. Here are a few effective productivity tips that can help sales businesses boost the overall performance of their remote employees.
1) Leverage Technological Solutions to Streamline Work
Streamlining your sales team’s workflow should be one of your top priorities at the moment. Doing this will not only help rid them of the repetitive, unproductive tasks, it will take your organization a step closer to success.
For instance, with the majority of your sales team’s work hours being spent on the administrative side, especially since they are working remotely amidst the ongoing crisis, you can easily include CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools within their daily workflow.
These tools can provide both you and your team with a brief overview of all the tasks in progress at a single glance. Other important features such as task reminders and client contacts are also automatically organized and embedded within them so that your team always knows whom to contact and what they should be doing next. Every member on your team has complete access to everything that is happening on the work front, even when working remotely; this further leads to increased productivity and better coordination.
Another technological solution that can help your organization is transcription. This is especially true if your company deals with huge troves of data on a regular basis. Transcription software can help your team convert audio into text files and vice versa, which helps you better manage data. For instance, you can easily convert your client calls to written text and drive pointers to better comprehend client requirements.
Some other state-of-the-art tools that can help businesses boost employee productivity are work schedulers, time-tracking tools, mobile applications and communication tools.
2) Fortify Collaboration
Collaboration is the foremost attribute when targeting productivity on an individual level. As the results of a recent Stanford study found, “cues of working together can inspire intrinsic motivation.”
Fortunately, in the digital age, it's more trouble-free than ever to enhance collaboration, even among remote workers. Today, tens of hundreds of web and mobile applications as well as other communication-based platforms are available that can serve as meeting spaces for your sales team, providing the resources they need to collaborate effectively as well.
While no one likes being monitored around the clock — even in the digital sense — not many on your team should mind using chat tools to communicate throughout the day. Chat tools are getting increasingly sophisticated by the day, enabling users to share documents, upload files, and otherwise also function as workforce management tools.
As effective and amusing as chat tools can be, too many of our daily interactions with colleagues are based on facial expressions and body language. Having face-to-face meetings, via Zoom, for example, result in fewer miscues and clearer communication. Schedule frequent video call check-ins with your remote teams and save conversations that require visual aids, such as sales decks, for these time slots in particular.
Most importantly, these tools bridge the distances between your remote employees and give them a sense of belonging. You may not have a shared coffee machine to gather around when working remotely, but you can still get together on a virtual channel to talk about anything from sports events to upcoming meetings or even the Christmas party.
3) Communicate Purpose to your Team
The key to unleashing the power of collaboration isn’t simply letting your remote sales teams wander loosely in the digital playgrounds. In order to reap maximum benefits from working together, you need to set clear expectations and simplify the underlying purpose behind their goals.
You need to think about what reasons your sales reps have to perform well. If it’s only about money, you’ll most certainly end up losing their dedication in the long run — workers will increasingly need larger and larger salaries and/or bonuses to incentivize them to work.
On the other hand, if you can get your remote team to buy into a greater mission, or make a game out of their collaboration, you’ll achieve more success, experts suggest.
Purpose is the main driver of productive collaboration — not micromanagement, not money and certainly not ultimatums to job security.
4) Encourage Healthy Competition and Camaraderie
One of the most important aspects of remote work is how you can keep your employees engaged and avoid feeling disconnected. You need to strengthen your team by investing in fun-filled and exciting activities to promote friendly competition and camaraderie among them. This can easily be done in a number of ways, one being using a newsletter to assign quizzes and ask weekly questions.
Also, team-wide adventures, for example an online workshop, are excellent ways to strengthen all aspects of your remote team’s holistic well-being. Through these methods, your team will get to learn new techniques and tips for better engaging your target audience.
As much as a sales team needs to function together, it’s true that a significant tenet of the position is to compete in a healthy manner. Those who make the most sales typically make the most bucks, which is both an incentive in the form of bragging rights and a monetary one.
Sales leaders can employ a performance dashboard that remote workers can check anytime to promote healthy, informed competition among reps. They can then take it upon themselves to further the stakes and increase the competition with low-stakes bets such as “loser buys lunch.” Give your sales team the right tools they need to compete, and they’ll take it from there.
5) Incentivize Creativity in Dealing with ‘The New Normal’
Unanticipated changes in the workplace are difficult to come to terms with. It can be arduous to get your team to switch workflow management tools, let alone fleeing the office to work remotely. It takes a whole lot of effort to acknowledge and motivate your workforce when they are working from home.
But rewarding them and recognizing their talent not only makes your employees feel valued — these small acts of appreciation from your end can also enhance productivity and company loyalty. This can be as simple (and cheap) as saying a big “thank you.”
Changing the mode of operations and switching to a remote workflow can be challenging, but a supportive backing to the employees can work wonders for boosting the productivity of your team. It’s vital that you don’t lose touch of the basics and consistently work towards excellence to succeed in the new normal.
About the Author
Rahul Varshneya is the founder and president of digital health consulting firm Arkenea.