The keys to maintaining a great culture within a remote sales team

by Steli Efti
TinCanPhone

If you’re not restricting your potential employee pool to one location, you’re able to hire the best of the best no matter where they live.

On top of that, you don’t need to pay for a giant office space, meaning employees can be compensated better; your employees don’t have to suffer through a morning commute, giving them more time to execute; and everyone has the freedom to work wherever they feel comfortable.

Essentially, the remote work experience is full of pros.

That said, there’s one primary issue that a lot of remote sales teams struggle with:

Their team culture sucks.

When everyone works in the same office space, it’s a lot easier to establish and maintain a certain culture within the company. Sales reps are able to chat throughout the day, go for lunch as a team on a weekly basis, and form authentic relationships with each other. These things aren’t so easy with a remote sales team.

Does that mean every remote team is destined to have a terrible culture?

Absolutely not.

You just have to be more intentional about establishing a company culture that helps the entire team succeed. We’ve talked about how we maintain a quality company culture at Close.io with a distributed team:

 And in this blog post, we want to break down some of the steps to maintaining a quality culture for a remote sales team. These four steps are key to building and maintaining a great culture where your sales team hits their quota and is committed to your organization's vision and goals:

Set crystal-clear objectives & goals

If your remote sales team doesn’t have concrete sales goals and objectives to work toward, their natural instinct will be to go through the motions. Without ambitious goals to strive for, they have no incentive to put their best foot forward.

Here’s where I see a number of remote sales managers get it wrong:

The idea here IS NOT to have a handful of lofty numbers with no true meaning or connection to legitimate success, and maybe some vaguely worded quality assurance goals. If there’s any confusion about what your objectives are or why they matter, you run the risk of having your team work toward something they think is a priority, when it actually has nothing to do with your overall goals.

To avoid the demotivating realization that your team is working their tails off on the wrong things, ensure your goals and objectives are crystal-clear from the beginning—the very beginning. Prospective inside sales reps should know exactly what their responsibilities and objectives will be so that if they’re hired, they’ll fit seamlessly into the team.

Create a process-driven sales culture

When it comes to creating and maintaining a great culture, processes are paramount.

Having a well-defined sales process for every day-to-day task will keep new sales reps from constantly asking for a tutorial on routine activities—or, even worse, taking a blind guess on how to do something and getting it completely wrong. In both scenarios, the end result is lost time for both the sales rep and their team manager.

Instead of watching time and money dwindle away, take the time to outline every process they might need to know—expenses, travel, building quotes, processing orders, support escalation, and anything else you think they may need to do.

Create the processes, document them, introduce them during the onboarding of new sales reps, and make sure these documents are readily accessible at all times.

Get the right tools for the job

Without the right tools, it’s nearly impossible to successfully manage a remote sales team and maintain a great culture at the same time. Luckily, there’s a near-endless amount of powerful tools out there to help you accomplish just about anything you need to do for your business.

While a lot of these tools are highly specialized for accomplishing certain goals that vary from business to business, there are a handful of staples that every remote sales team can rely on to stay connected and on the same page:

1. Slack for Communication

If you want to maintain a great culture within your remote sales team, communication is key, and Slack can serve as the virtual watercooler where the majority of that communication takes place. Once you set up your team’s Slack workspace, you can create a separate Slack channel for each client, project, or topic and keep every conversation in the proper place.

2. Asana or Trello for project management

There are a lot of moving parts associated with every project, initiative, and account your remote sales team handles. A tool like Trello makes it easy to manage each of these projects remotely. You can create separate boards for clients or company focuses, then add cards to each board that represent projects. From there, you can set due dates and assign team members to each project.

3. Close.io for all sales activity

Of course, in order to maintain a high-functioning remote sales team with a great culture, everyone has to be on the same page when it comes to potential customers and where they are in the decision-making process. You can use a tool like our inside sales CRM with integrated calling and emailing to keep all of that sales activity in one place and easily carry leads from prospect to customer.

Embrace the idea of over-communicating

By now you know that communication is vital for remote sales teams, but maybe you’re afraid of flooding your team’s inboxes or Slack notifications. Think about this:

Your team can never be TOO in the know.

It’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Make sure your team is well aware of everything going on in the company and on their team. If they think they’re out of the loop, they’re going to feel disengaged.

A tool like Slack helps with communication, but nothing can beat a face-to-face meeting. Of course, it can be tough to meet up for a team lunch when your employees live hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

To keep your team engaged, host weekly video calls through Google Hangouts to talk progress, company news and life, and to give the team a chance to celebrate any big wins they’ve had that week.

Now over to you

If you’re thinking about building out a remote sales team or shifting your current team to a remote experience, there are a ton of benefits that you can expect. In order to make sure the team stays motivated, though, maintaining a great remote culture will be key.

Here are those four important steps again:

  1. Set crystal-clear objectives & goals
  2. Create a process-driven sales culture
  3. Get the right tools for the job
  4. Embrace the idea of over-communication

Follow these steps when building out your remote sales team and you’ll be setting yourself up for culture success. With great company culture come great employee happiness levels, and with great employee happiness levels come great results for the company.

Want more tips on building a winning sales team? Download a free copy of my book The Sales Hiring Playbook, where I share my best advice on hiring and managing sales reps.

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