Managing remote Inside Sales teams was a hot topic of discussion on LinkedIn last month. As a remote Inside Sales person, I thought it was important to add my two cents about telecommuting or should I say, "working virtually".
For the past 8 years I have sold remotely. I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to transition from working a traditional 8 to 5 job as an Account Executive to working from home. So I took the plunge! It provided me with flexibility; challenging work & good pay . . . (I was also able to save on gas, car maintenance . . . and the commute's a breeze).
Here are some ideas to make the transition work for both the Rep & Manager:
- Have a Designated Home Office
And I don't mean the kitchen table. This is important so that you have a place to call home or should I say work. A place where you "clock in" every day at the normal work time and are able to have conference calls without the dog barking, etc.
- Designate a Phone Line For Work
Your customer, partners & co-workers don't want to leave a voicemail for The Smith Family, they want you! Need I say more?
- Collaboration Software & Monitoring Tools
This is critical to the success of remote teams. It is very important that management provide the right tools to make sure their Reps are successful BUT also are able to measure performance and activity. For example, Salesforce.com is a great for tracking calls and measuring performance. Microsoft's Groove is a great collaboration tool so you feel connected to your team. Make sure you provide for IM capabilities in case you need technical assistance on a call.
- Weekly Sales Meetings. . . Or should I say conference calls.
From a management perspective, it is very important to continue weekly support of your remote inside sales rep(s) to discuss pipeline opportunities and challenges they are encountering.
Ben Howell, Director, Business Development at Adaptive Planning, shared his insight recently on LinkedIn. Here's an excerpt:
"I have been running teams with some/all remote ISR's for 5+ years now, and I am a huge proponent of it. I get more productivity out of most of my full time remote heads, as they tend to work more hours in the day (and are 'in the office' all the time ;-)). The trick is to set the expectations clearly right out of the gate, that this is a huge privilege, and you will be monitoring/managing remote reps with a very high level of detail initially."
Stoney Reynolds, Territory Account Manager at Trend Micro, added the following suggestions:
"I have found that structure, planning, good org skills and communication is really all that is needed to manage a team remotely. Have regular meetings to discuss strategy, tactics, direction, etc. "
What great advice! I would add that remote Reps NEED to be self-starters and have the ability to work independently; key traits in making the transition a success. If this is something you are considering and would like to talk in more detail about this topic, feel free to call me at 603-672-6418.
As always, if you have any suggestions or comments; please feel free to post!
Photo Credit .Fabio