How to bolster collaboration and connection with your remote sales team
The pandemic forced many industries to adapt their systems and processes to a virtual business model, and sales is no exception. While this rapid, large-scale transition to remote sales teams and digital customer service is necessary, it’s not without challenges. Stephen Diorio, a Forbes contributor, reported on research from the Revenue Enablement Institute that found productivity on remote sales teams declined by 20 percent due to the pandemic.
According to the research, one of the culprits behind this decrease in productivity is a lack of team collaboration. To rectify the situation, “managers must find ways to accelerate the speed of communication to provide the entire selling team with fast, transparent and inclusive information,” explains Diorio. This allows teams to work together to create a streamlined, efficient, and responsive customer experience.
What’s more, increased connection also reinforces overall effectiveness—60 percent of sales teams confirm collaborative selling increases productivity by more than 25 percent, according to Salesforce. Additionally, more than half agree that it boosts the success of their sales pipeline, too. If you lead a remote sales team, leverage these strategies to reinforce their collaboration, and grow even more connected in 2021.
Promote Group Training and Coaching Experiences
You know sales training is essential to performance. Research shows higher levels of training lead to increased win rates and fewer deals lost. However, you might be lacking in training opportunities for the new remote sales ecosystem or retraining employees to encourage virtual teamwork.
Not only do training sessions help team members hone their individual sales tactics, but this shared learning experience serves as a connection point for the entire team. Training is also invaluable in new environments—such as the continuation of remote and virtual sales. By investing in training activities, your team will have the chance to try new tactics and experience both success and failure in a safe and collaborative setting, building confidence.
Find a sales coach or program that offers remote training with a focus on virtual interactions. This will allow your team to grow as professionals while building trust, integration, and camaraderie with one another.
Peer-to-peer coaching is another way to strengthen your team’s sense of connection. The experts at Lessonly offer advice on how to facilitate a peer-to-peer session, “Chances are, your sales reps have different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, every member of the team should have a skill or knowledge that they can impart to the rest of the team.”
These types of knowledge-sharing activities not only necessitate increased communication; they strengthen relationships as well. As a result of this collaborative information exchange, Lessonly explains, “sales reps know they can reach out to each other whenever they need help.” Teams who have access to sales coaching also tend to score 16.7 percent higher in revenue growth than other teams, according to their reports.
Ensure Accessible Virtual Communication
How a sales team internally communicates with each other impacts their external customer service interactions. Misaligned internal communication is a challenge for many remote sales teams. Research from Smarp found that:
- 18 percent of sales reps indicate that poor communication and lack of cohesive information caused them to lose a sale.
- 55 percent also reveal that ineffective communication forces them to waste several hours and distracts from their job.
- Employees spend an average of 2.5 hours a day, searching for information essential to their role.
That’s a ton of wasted time and resources due to a lack of communication and organization!
On the flip side, when internal communication is aligned, your sales team focuses their energy on customer relationships and satisfaction, leading to more sales.
To ensure your team has all the needed information and communication at their fingertips, focus on your internal processes. Equip your team members with the right tools to communicate efficiently.
Virtual collaboration platforms—such as Slack, Asana, and Trello—enable teams to share data, ask questions, escalate issues, and deliver status updates in real-time to make sure that each sales rep is on the same page. In addition, strive to streamline your meetings so you can make the most of that shared time.
Leverage Gamification to Support Friendly Competition
In many cases, there is a direct link between a strong team connection and a healthy dose of competition—and one way to reinforce that is through gamification. This strategic tactic can increase both productivity and camaraderie.
The excitement of a challenge and the anticipation of a reward will motivate your team members to boost their individual and collective sales efforts, which benefits the group as a whole.
An estimated 89 percent of professionals feel eager and competitive to take on a gamified project, and another 89 percent are more productive due to gamification, according to a TalentLMS poll.
Even just offering a simple reward for whoever closes the most deals or meets their monthly quota first can inspire friendly competition among team members, which encourages everyone to pursue a common goal.
Check out this guide on how to create a sales scorecard to start your gamification.
Practice Transparency (and Encourage Disagreements)
I know the second part of this tip (supporting conflict) might be controversial or go against traditional management procedures—but hear me out. Sales teams are, by nature, competitive.
When in office, friendly competition or constructive criticism is much easier to deliver. Remote environments don’t lend themselves well to disagreements. Team members lose that all-important, in-person context. As such, they might be hesitant to contradict someone for fear of being misunderstood or, worse, coming across the wrong way.
The problem is, transparency and willingness to express your opinions—especially when you disagree—are essential for connection. An OfficeVibe survey found that 62 percent of employees wished they received more feedback from their colleagues. And not just positive feedback; 83 percent reported they appreciate feedback whether it’s positive or negative.
Jeff Weiss and Jonathan Hughes explain this concept perfectly in a Harvard Business Review article:
“Disagreements sparked by differences in perspective, competencies, access to information, and strategic focus within a company actually generate much of the value that can come from collaboration across organizational boundaries.
Clashes between parties are the crucibles in which creative solutions are developed and wise trade-offs among competing objectives are made. So instead of trying simply to reduce disagreements, senior executives need to embrace conflict and, just as important, institutionalize mechanisms for managing it.”
Refer to Slack’s brilliant guide on constructive workplace conflict for valuable pointers. The same article also confirms this point, revealing their surveys found that 80 percent of workers want more trust and transparency in their workplace.
Celebrate Team Wins
Last, but not least, to create a cohesive experience, make sure to include recognition in the mix. Celebrating your team’s wins will round out your team’s overall connection to make it full circle—shared learning, successful communication, friendly competition, honest feedback, and group acknowledgment.
When you build a culture that encourages team members to continually improve their work and then reward them for success, you strengthen team spirit, morale, unity, and trust. Unfortunately, that same OfficeVibe survey found 63 percent of employees don’t receive enough recognition. (In fact, 83 percent feel praise is more important than receiving a gift).
Lead by example in affirming your sales team for their achievements, and carve out time in the schedule to publicly recognize the wins.
“Recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public,” says Paul J. Zak, professor, CEO, and author.
Zak continues: “Public recognition not only uses the power of the crowd to celebrate success, but it also inspires others to aim for excellence. And it gives top performers a forum for sharing best practices, so others can learn from them,” As a bonus, a scientific study confirmed that supportive supervisors and a culture of feedback increases employee creativity.
Revitalize Collaboration and Connection for Your Remote Sales Team
These are difficult, uncertain times across all business sectors, and remote sales teams are not alone in the struggle to maintain connection and collaboration. But a collaborative team is crucial to alignment, productivity, acceleration, and success, so do not overlook this on your own sales team. Virtual collaboration can take a serious amount of effort, but it will benefit your organization as a whole in the long-term.