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Channel Productivity: How to Better Manage a Remote Sales Team

Ann Smarty

More and more jobs are becoming remote these days. The ability to work from home has opened companies and startups to the talent located all over the world, connecting them with employees that they may have never had access to in the past.

You can find the perfect fit no matter where they live, and by providing some flexibility build a dream sales team.

But just like the idea of a remote hire is new, so is managing them. You might be wondering where to start, and how you can effectively channel their productivity without ruining your own.

Don't worry, it is easier than you think. You just have to know how.

Related Article: Remote vs. In-Office Workers: Which Employee Is Actually Better?

Know Where to Find Your Team

First, you need to know where to find the very best team members for your business. There are a lot of websites that will list your job posting, which is looked at specifically by people who are interested in remote work.

Some of those websites include:

Usually, they will allow you to post a job either featured or regular list, depending on the fee. They attract a ton of responses from qualified workers that are tired of the usual nine to five and want something a bit more flexible that will let them work where and how they want to. Remember that the more details you give, the more responses you will get, especially serious ones. List the salary, qualifications, responsibilities, and the other perks of your team. Tell them the kind of person you want to work with (passionate, self-starter, responsible, fun, etc).

Have the Right Management Tools on Hand

The job of a manager is much easier if you have tools that automate certain processes or make it easier to monitor and communicate. But finding the right tool can be hard since you want to keep using one for each category. I once worked with a startup founder who would change his mind on every tool he tried.

Our team was constantly moving from one to the other, spending so much time relearning new features, setting up new profiles. It was a nightmare. And guess what that time could have been spent doing? Making the sales that would have kept the startup above water; unsurprisingly, he lost his business and we were out of a job. Don't make the same mistake. Find a good tool for each task you need, stick with it, and teach your sales team how to use it. I would personally recommend these.

Related Article: The Best Solutions to Improve the Workflow of Remotely Working Teams

  • Salesmate: The sales management tool clearly defines each step in the sales process and the actual actions to accomplish each step towards the successful sale. This tool lets you build a highly productive sales team, even if it's a remote one.
  • Slack: The ultimate team communication tool. The days of endless emails or Skype meetings are over. Slack is a communications platform that lets you create different channels and grant permissions for each. As a manager, you can keep different channels open for each of your necessary tasks and teams, keep track of those conversations, and make sure everyone stays informed. It can be used on any device, so you will always know what is going on, wherever you are.
  • Cyfe: An all in one business platform that might be the coolest thing I have ever seen. You customize widgets for sales, CRM, support, social media, marketing, and whatever else you need. It goes on a single dashboard which can be monitored by the whole team. Super cool, super cheap, and super useful. I would suggest this business management platform above any other.
  • Ringio: You need phone sales and support, that is just how it is. As a small team manager, you might be wondering how to do that without spending an arm and a leg. Ringio is a great option. They are affordable, easy to use, and integrate your email and phone sales to optimize your results. Plus, it gives you, as a manager, more control over call monitoring.
  • Hivedesk: It would be nice if we could trust our remote employees time sheets without question. But no matter how trustworthy they may be, we have a budget given to us by higher ups, and we have to justify the expenses and hours. Hivedesk works by monitoring the time spent in productive versus nonproductive activity during billed hours. It makes easy to read reports, and doesn't require much from you. Leaving you free for more important tasks.
  • IDoneThis: The simplest tool of the lot. Your employees let you know what they did that day, it goes into the system, you are emailed a report once a night containing all of the reports from your remote workers. No more tracking down information, or having to ask directly. It is all right there for you to see, nothing on your part required more than opening an email.

Create a Standard Before the Hire, and Stick to It

You need to know how you are going to be running your team before you create your team. Then you need to stick to that plan. If you already have a team and are looking to improve, you need a solid plan that you can introduce and implement to your current team and any future employees.

This means the right tools in place, the hours you will work, when you will allow time off, what qualifies as vacation versus sick days, how flexible you are going to be with hours, if hours matter as long as quotas are being reached, when and how payments will be made, incentives, bonuses and commissions, etc. The sooner you have all of this written down and confirmed, the smoother your team management is going to run.

Related Article: 14 Best Tools to Measure Employee Performance

Always Be Available

Finally, I would say this is the most important rule of managing a remote sales team: availability. Your salespeople will have their hours on, and hours off. You will not. Part of having a remote team is that they are around the world. They have different time zones, different needs (someone in Australia may need to work during your night hours, while someone in Bangladesh may need to take breaks five times a day for prayer.

That means you have to be available when they are. A problem in the middle of the night? Take the call. Early morning? You are on. That is part of being a manager.

Have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Ann Smarty
business.com Member
Ann Smarty is the social media enthusiast and active blogger writing about Internet marketing, search and social trends and productivity. Ann is the founder of MyBlogGuest.com, co-founder of Viral Content Buzz and Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann is also an active columnist at Search Engine Journal, Small Biz Trends, Lifehack and many others.