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Running a Sales Team with Remote Employees

Andrew Jellison
February 1, 2019

It’s no secret that modern employees want more flexibility. A Gallup survey showed that in 2017, 43% of polled Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. The reasons why make perfect sense - working remotely gives employees some of their time back by eliminating commutes, and also provides them with the flexibility to handle other obligations when they need to.

The benefits of having remote employees aren’t limited to the employees themselves. Research has shown that companies who allow employees to work from home save on office space, lower attrition rates, and even improve productivity. Flexible working arrangements also allow companies to hire based solely on qualifications, as opposed to balancing skills with geography.

At Votacall, we’ve tried to create flexible work options for employees company-wide, including our sales team. This required us to think about our team’s structure - specifically how to keep in contact, how often we’d meet, and how we’d measure day-to-day performance when our reps weren’t all in the same room. Here are a few things we found helpful:

Kill the Monday morning sales meeting

Maybe yours isn’t necessarily on Monday morning, but you get the point. Long weekly sales meetings have been around for a while, and while they still have their place, you should probably consider breaking them up a bit. Ineffective meetings stem from two things: having way too much to cover, or having little to talk about but a lot of calendar time to fill.

We’ve found that there’s value in breaking up our sales meetings into short (15 minute) “burst” sessions that are focused and efficient. Managers can go over daily metrics, and reps can receive guidance on deals they’re working while they’re top-of-mind from the previous day.

This helps our remote employees by keeping them looped in and engaged on a daily basis. One of the common downsides of working from home is a feeling of isolation. Our new meeting structure combats this while giving our remote reps the ability to be just as involved as the rest of our team, meaning that they have the same opportunity to collaborate and ask questions that everyone else does.

Manage the metrics

Our evaluation of performance is heavily rooted in data. In recent years, we’ve developed a system that allows us to predict a rep’s monthly performance based on their daily activity. By using an equation that combines our most important KPIs, we’re able to assign our reps a score that projects their monthly sales performance. That score is dynamic, meaning that it updates itself constantly based on a rep’s activity. Using an integration with our VoIP platform, we’re able to display these scores for our team using internal “boards” in real time:

Sales Team Dashboard

This helps our remote employees because they can always evaluate their monthly performance on a quantitative level. By combining this with our daily “burst” meetings, the reps that work from home can identify exactly where they stand while getting consistent feedback and guidance on their sales strategy.

Give your team the right technology

As a cloud communications company, one of our major goals is to provide remote employees with the ability access and collaborate with their peers as if they were in the office. The same goes for our sales team.

We provide them with the infrastructure to communicate in real time, using the method and device of their choice. Because we utilize a VoIP system, our reps are able to set up their home offices with their work numbers, which allows coworkers to reach them using their extensions or the internal directory. More importantly, our remote reps have access to their cloud-based features like voicemail-to-email and our mobility application Votacall GO!, which allows them to stay connected with potential customers when they’re outside the office using their desk number.

By combining this with shared document libraries and internal wikis, we provide remote employees with the infrastructure to collaborate in real-time. Our goal is to make sure that they have the same access to information and colleagues as in-office employees, which allows them the flexibility of remote work without the potential downside of being “out of the loop.”

To wrap up

Companies that offer flexible work options are able to retain and attract more employees - if they’re able to manage them correctly. Running a remote team isn’t as difficult as it might seem, but it does require managers to have a plan in place to mitigate potential downsides like employee isolation. When built correctly, a team that includes remote workers can be every bit as collaborative and productive as an in-office team. Companies that think carefully about their processes, employee engagement strategy, and technology use can create a more flexible and appealing work environment. 

For some more info on keeping remote employees connected, check out this case study on Kings Dining & Entertainment.

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