Challenges Sales Managers Face in Leading A Remote Team and How to Overcome Them

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Written by Cecilia Gorman

Many top-performing companies owe a great deal of their success to their effective sales teams. A combination of motivation and adequate resources enables these teams to greatly improve a company’s growth and profitability while giving them room to expand into new market areas.

However,  with the current global situation, more and more companies are switching to remote work setups. While this may have its benefits, it also presents a unique set of challenges for sales managers. 

Inadequate Workflows and Documented Processes

One of the significant challenges in managing remote sales teams lies in the lack of adequate workflows and documented processes. Without a physical office environment, monitoring and managing daily sales activities can be difficult. Sales representatives may feel confused or overwhelmed due to unclear instructions or protocols.

To tackle this challenge, sales managers might want to explore the use of project management software. These online tools are effective in organizing workflows and maintaining team alignment. They offer features like task assignment, progress tracking, and collaboration, which are crucial for coordinating a dispersed team.

Effective Communication Channels

Another significant challenge is establishing effective communication channels. Remote sales staff might feel isolated or disconnected from the team without regular check-ins. This can lead to decreased motivation and productivity, which are detrimental to achieving sales targets.

Sales managers should prioritize setting up regular check-ins with their team members. These could be daily catch-ups, weekly meetings, or monthly reviews, depending on what suits your team’s needs. The key is to maintain open and consistent communication.

Siloed Sales and Operational Team Members

Sales managers and their teams can often feel isolated from the rest of the company’s departments. Whether attending tradeshows, conferences, or meetings with clients in person, there is a typical physical separation between sales representatives and operations teams.

With physical distance separating individuals, it’s easy for team members to fall out of sync, causing a disconnect that can impact productivity and overall sales performance.

Managers should encourage cross-departmental communication to encourage more teamwork and collaboration. This can include inviting team members from other departments to participate in sales strategy meetings or creating opportunities for shared projects.

Not Having an Effective Sales Team Onboarding Process

A well-structured onboarding process is crucial to integrating new hires into the team and setting them up for success. However, in a remote setup, the absence of face-to-face interactions can make this process challenging. New sales team members could lose value if not adequately trained and onboarded which leads to much faster turnover in the organization.

Sales managers should work closely with HR teams or manager training professionals to help develop comprehensive onboarding protocols for remote workers. These might include virtual orientations, training sessions, and mentorship programs. It’s also beneficial to provide new hires with detailed guides or resources that they can refer to as they acclimate to their roles.

Regular check-ins during the first few weeks are also crucial and can help new hires feel supported and valued. It allows managers to quickly address concerns, offer guidance, and reinforce the company culture.

Difficulty Tracking Team Accountability

A common challenge faced by sales managers leading a remote team is tracking accountability. Without the physical presence of a traditional office setting, it can be difficult to monitor sales activities and results consistently. This inconsistency may lead to confusion and a lack of accountability among team members.

To overcome this, it’s essential to establish clear goals and milestones for each team member. These should be based on the overall objectives of the sales team. Regular performance reviews are also crucial. They allow managers to assess individual performances, give constructive feedback, and make necessary adjustments.

Knowing Which KPIs Are Important to Track

KPIs are a critical part of any sales strategy, providing measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company achieves key business objectives. However, with many potential KPIs to choose from, it can be challenging to select the ones that accurately reflect your key goals.

Some examples of valuable KPIs for sales teams might include:

To ensure you’re tracking the right KPIs, start by defining clear objectives for your sales team. What are you trying to achieve? Once you’ve established this, you can select KPIs that align with these goals. It’s also important to regularly review and adjust your KPIs as your objectives evolve.

Minimizing Accomplishments and Not Celebrating Milestones

Sales is a high-pressure environment where every win counts. In a traditional office setting, it’s easy to recognize and celebrate these wins – a successful pitch, closing a deal, or even reaching a personal sales target. However, in a remote environment, these victories can often go unnoticed.

In a remote working environment, it’s easy for the accomplishments of individual team members to go unnoticed by the organization, which can result in a dip in motivation, productivity, and a feeling of disconnection within the team. Everyone appreciates recognition for their efforts.

Most leadership coaching courses stress the importance of proactively seeking ways to acknowledge and celebrate successes, regardless of their size. This could involve giving a shout-out to a colleague in a virtual meeting or sending a congratulatory email or message to the whole team.

Keep Your Sales Team Engaged and Motivated

The sales team plays a crucial role in the success of your business. However, ensuring their full commitment in remote settings involves focusing on their well-being while setting clear, achievable objectives.

Building a strong team culture, tracking relevant KPIs, and giving consistent feedback and appreciation are all key strategies to keep your sales team driven and focused on company goals.