Remote jobs are trending up in the UK and around the world. According to UK-based telecommunications provider Onecom, as of the year 2015, 91% of UK businesses had at least one employee who was working remotely; 19% of UK businesses had more than half their workforce working remotely. Dailymail reports that 13.9% of workers in the UK are working from home. In 2016 in the USA, 24% of the workforce reported doing some or all of their jobs at home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While there are many benefits to having a remote workforce, having team members scattered in different locations does increase the challenges that operations managers face in keeping the remote team members productive, engaged, motivated and empowered for success. Let's explore some ideas for overcoming the challenges of managing a remote sales team.
Mutually agree on sales goals, responsibilities and expectations
It's essential for all employees to have a clear understanding of their job descriptions, goals and responsibilities. With a remote team, where employees will not be carefully supervised, clarity in these areas is particularly crucial.
Use technology to empower your training, management and communication efforts
Frequent communication with remote employees may be necessary to keep them from feeling as if they've been left on their own. You want to encourage team camaraderie and avoid feelings of isolation, which remote team members can sometimes be prone to experiencing.
While there are many management tasks that don't require the use of technologies more advanced than the telephone, technology can empower your training and management efforts in a number of ways. Cloud and mobile technologies are fueling the rise in remote working. Your company can incorporate these technologies into your workplace to improve communications with remote workers and allow for easier team management even when face-to-face time is limited.
Web conferencing, teleconferencing and videoconferencing technologies
- GoToMeeting webinars -- You can conduct remote sales meetings, training sessions and question and answer sessions via webinar.
- Cisco conferencing technologies -- Cisco makes multiple conferencing technologies available to facilitate communications with your remote team.
- Skype -- Skype enables a variety of communications including text messaging, video chat and more.
- Facetime -- Facetime is a mobile app that enables you and your remote team members to make audio and video calls from mobile devices using the iOS operating system.
These are just a few of the technologies that enable you to keep in touch with your remote sales team; there are many other similar services available.
Employee monitoring technologies
Trust is one of the cornerstones of a relationship between an employer and a remote sales team. If you make the decision to use technology for monitoring your employees, it is important to do so in a way that preserves trust rather than threatens it. Use monitoring tools in such a way that you promote improvement and empowerment rather than fostering an atmosphere of micromanagement, snooping or punishment. At times when you feel that employee monitoring is necessary, there are a number of technologies that can make the experience relatively seamless and as unobtrusive as possible.
Salesforce email tracking software is an option that can be supportive and empowering when implemented effectively. It allows the synching of emails to keep the entire team aware of the latest developments.
Livehive's sales platform allows you to monitor your salespeople’s email and calling efforts in real time.
You can utilize a network inventory product to discover everything that's happening with the computers in your company's network, including the applications and software programs users are running. This type of technology is useful for many purposes, but it's especially helpful for managers who want to understand how remote employees are spending their time.
Bring the team together periodically for face-to-face interactions
As helpful as technology is in empowering communications with remote workers, it's still ideal to ensure the team actually meets in person from time to time -- perhaps on a weekly or quarterly basis. Face-to-face meetings can build trust, reinforce the company culture and energize team members with new ideas and strategies for improving their sales.
Have you discovered additional ways to empower your sales team members who are working remotely? Please do share them in the comments area below.
About Philip Piletic
My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m an editor, writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, latest tech trends and helping others get their ideas off the ground.