The sales business has been almost irrevocably changed over the last several years. A recent study by Global Workplace Analytics states that, since 2005, there has been an almost 140% rise in remote workers. And that didn't take into account the sudden advent of COVID-19, which has surely sent those numbers into the stratosphere.
The business sector is seeing more and more virtual sales teams becoming the norm across the board. In one aspect, this allows companies greater degrees of freedom and flexibility in their hiring practices and the ability to stay competitive. But it also comes with its disadvantages and challenges.
In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best practices you can consider putting in place to get the most out of your virtual sales force and its efforts.
Improve your virtual sales teams with these best practices
Select the right candidates for virtual sales
One of the greatest strengths of the virtual sales force is the ability to bring onboard team members from all corners of the globe if needed. Where once you might have been limited by proximity, the sky is the limit with the virtual workforce. But hiring team members to work remotely does force you to re-think your hiring process a little.
According to Indeed, a host of benefits come from selecting the right people for the job. These can include greater cohesion and collaboration between the group, improved productivity, more investment from the team in the company and its vision, and even a reduction in employee stress.
First, be sure to tailor your questions to the virtual nature of the position. Yes, it sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed how many managers miss this when conducting interviews for their virtual sales force. Questions around reliability and consistency, for instance, are paramount as you need to be sure that the new hire will turn in their work on time regularly.
Questions that highlight the interviewee's communication skills are also great to include, as they’ll need to be able to use remote communication tools effectively. Otherwise, you should evaluate their abilities to self-start and be self-motivated.
Next, be sure you evaluate clients based on their virtual selling experience first and foremost. Someone with a decade of experience in the sales field is all well and good, but it will be less useful if they’ve spent those ten years on the sales floor selling products face-to-face or in an office environment.
Sometimes someone who looks good on paper just doesn't measure up in real life. To make sure your new hire is up to snuff, we suggest hiring them on a trial basis. The job can become permanent assuming they meet all the goals you've set out for them and they mesh well with a remote setting.
These are simple tactics you can use to aid in the process of hiring new members of your virtual sales force, but they are by no means the end of the list. Hiring the right people for your virtual sales force is the foundational step that can lead to success or failure.
Define your expectations for remote work
Once you've selected your virtual sales team, it's time to put them to work. Because they won’t be under the direct oversight of their team leader, it’s of utmost importance that they are provided with clear expectations and are allowed to work in the most productive manner possible.
This will look different from team to team. Some teams will work best when they set their own schedule and need very little in the way of supervision. Others will need a leader to set their schedule and check in regularly to keep them accountable.
Below are several methods that can help you set expectations and help your team meet them:
- Set clear goals for success
- Communicate clearly and regularly with your team
- Make sure you understand what they need from you
- Meet regularly with your team to build rapport and ensure they are on track
Setting expectations for your team provides a clear metric for evaluating the performance of the team and helps avoid conflicts or expectations that do not match up between team members. It’ll also help alleviate any tension from misunderstanding objectives.
Provide your sales team with virtual training and onboarding
Hiring a virtual sales force is useless if you do not give them the training they need to succeed. And the training you give them will by necessity be different than the training you would give to an in-person sales rep. You should tailor training to both the team and the fact that they will be working in a virtual environment.
According to the Kellogg School of Management at NWU, effective sales strategies come from a distillation of the overall company strategy that is then given to the sales force to enact on the personal level.
When your virtual sales force conducts its business, they are in essence representing the company as a whole. They should be both knowledgeable about the overall strategy behind the company’s work and how they should use that knowledge to interact with potential customers.
How will your team work? Will they meet clients over video conferencing software, and do they know how to use it? Will they hold presentations that include multiple clients interested in your products? And will the tactics they use differ based on who they're talking to at the time?
No industry stays static. As such, it's important to consider hosting regular or semi-regular training sessions to bring your virtual sales force up to date on the latest goings-on in your industry and new best practices. That way, they will always remain on the cutting edge and able to compete.
Create a collaborative remote workspace
It can be difficult to team-build in a virtual environment, but—just as with an in-person sales force—teamwork is a vital part of the performance of virtual sales teams. Collaboration benefits everyone, and it’s up to you to facilitate a cohesive sales team that supports one another.
Sharing knowledge and best practices between themselves allows the team to become something greater than the sum of their parts. This is especially true of the relationship between your sales department and your marketing department.
Teams are much more productive when there are clear communication channels between remote and in-person sales reps. Tools like Zoom can be used to conduct virtual meet-ins, while platforms like Slack can be used as a persistent space where members from all over the company can enter and contribute via text or voice chat.
Provide your team with productivity tools
There’s only so much a sales force can do unless they’re given the tools they need to do their job well. This is a cornerstone of sales enablement, and this mindset is vital to improving virtual efforts and sales revenue.
It is likely that your team already has some tools in mind, so it’s good to ask them directly what they need. However, you should also do your research into your industry and competitors to determine the cutting-edge products of today.
A high-quality customer relationship manager (CRM), such as Hubspot or Salesforce, is the most obvious starting point. It’ll help your team manage meetings, track clients, and give up-to-date information on the sales funnel for your company. Maybe they need a good project management tool like Monday, which would allow them to keep track of their tasks and coordinate with one another throughout the sales process.
You should also consider tools that improve smaller, yet still vital, aspects of the sales process. If your team is going to be using video conferencing software to convert leads and close deals, you should invest in a virtual teleprompter tool like VODIUM to help speakers remain natural and on-point. This is especially helpful for those struggling to sell at the same level virtually.
Support and motivate your virtual sales team along the way
A tool is only as effective as the person using it. We can suggest all manner of strategies, productivity tools, and industry tips, but no piece of advice will stand for long unless you make the effort to support and motivate your virtual sales force consistently.
There are myriad ways you can do this; for example, monthly check-ins to ensure that the team is doing okay and feeling empowered. Also, conducting meetings whenever you’re implementing something new can help you keep your team on track and demonstrate that support them.
Improve your sales team’s virtual calls with VODIUM
Whatever methods you choose to get your virtual sales team up and running at peak efficiency, know that VODIUM can aid in them. We provide a virtual teleprompter service that allows the user to read from a script and maintain eye contact with their caller. It’s compatible with all the major video conferencing apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Features include auto-scrolling, transparency control, and font size adjustment. Custom pricing is available for organizations, and we offer a free trial so that you can be sure of what you are getting before you purchase.
For more information on what VODIUM can do for your business, request a demo today at our website!