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Trust, camaraderie and ‘donut time’ – the keys to sales success when remote working is the new normal

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Remote working has suddenly become the new normal – for now – throwing all of us a new set of challenges when it comes to managing the sales process.

There are real trade-offs in going remote – almost all of which revolve around the simple fact that team members are not in the room. When you are in the office a lot of things happen by default without you planning for them. These are the things that you miss the most when you move remote and at first, it can seem hard to replace them.

Over four years ago, Qwilr started building a remote Go-To-Market team across Marketing, Sales, Success & Support. In the early days, we felt the impact of not being in the room – at times, feelings of helplessness, mistrust, lack of clarity as to what is important, and lower morale.

We tackled each one, creating new approaches which have led to a more productive, harmonious remote team than we could have imagined. 

Here are our best tips from our journey for other businesses to follow:

1. Get the communication flowing

The golden rule is to set up a strict cadence on communication. A great way to kick this off is to get into the habit of regularly writing emails to the rest of the sales team each week outlining key activity, deals that have been closed, priorities for the week, and anything that is inhibiting them from meeting certain targets. 

When combined with regular team conference calls in which everyone shares these key focuses, teams have the best shot at remaining engaged. These meetings are crucial to helping team leaders remain across who is thriving and who is in need of assistance to meet their goals. as a bonus, it encourages a bit of friendly competition between reps who see their colleagues’ numbers so publicly.

2. Be ‘in the room’: Ride-Alongs & Call Recordings

When adapting to remote working, junior team members are often the ones to encounter the most issues as they aren’t able to get the same on-the-spot feedback from their managers as they’d receive in the office. However, with so many tech offerings enhancing how we communicate, managers can sit in on sales calls, or listen back to them afterwards.

Beyond picking up on customer sentiment, sales leaders can also listen to how their teams are responding, provide real time feedback and adjust the sales pitches regularly.

3. Find ways to be social.

Everyone needs moments to banter in any business cycle – and this is even more crucial during unprecedented times like this. The Qwilr team uses non-work focused Slack channels such as ‘Donut time’ to organise regular half-hour watercooler chats via Zoom, which brings the team together and generates some camaraderie.

4. Embrace and trust the numbers.

In an office, you get cues about how people are doing based on your impromptu conversations and by overhearing their calls. With remote teams, you don’t get to read the room quite the same way. Remote teams, by nature, are inherently more focused on output. Not how much time people are spending in their seats, but on what they’re actually doing.

That’s why clear and measurable goals, while a pillar for managing any successful team, become even more important for remote ones. And luckily, one of the great things about sales is that it’s relatively easy to measure. The end result is this also empowers every team member to do great work, as they know exactly what needs to be achieved. 

Be sure your CRM (we use Hubspot) is also set-up to capture these metrics and report in line with your chosen numbers. The regular sales team emails will help with this – as will analytics and data from the tools you use – like your CRM & Qwilr.

5. Working asynchronously

The real secret to remote work is getting better at working asynchronously. When it comes to remote working, sales team leaders must get used to not expecting immediate responses. We can build trust and let reps get on with their jobs by explaining that a response is only needed when they have a free moment. Just as you would never walk into a sales meeting and force your rep to answer a question, the same applies when they might be back-to-back with calls.

Other practices like implementing shared calendars, prioritising efficient written updates over bombarding teams with too much information, and setting aside time for regular moments of communication beyond work matters also help sales teams stick to efficient workflows. 

6. Improve your team’s tools

When times are normal and everyone is in the room, it is amazing at how little some processes matter (especially for smaller teams). This is not the case with remote working, especially when the shift to this way of working is sudden. 

A good CRM that is well set up and easily-accessible by sales teams will ensure it is as seamless as possible to track progress towards common goals when even working across multiple locations. Now more than ever, having tools in place like Zoom and Slack are integral to ensuring everyone can not only remain across what needs to be done, but also remain in touch with each other.

We use Qwilr for internal documents as well as any external assets that are shared clients. Because every document is effectively made as a web page, teams collaborate on documents remotely and pitch materials and contracts can be automatically created for new leads, saving buckets of time.

At the end of the day, remote working changes many things, but it doesn’t have to change the productivity and energy of your sales team. The journey to getting these systems in place takes time, and there’s no solution that will work with everyone, which is why it’s crucial for businesses to listen to what their sales teams need to work efficiently from home. Getting this balance of the right tools and internal processes in place may often be frustrating, but when implemented correctly, creates the same fast-paced sales team regardless of whether they are sitting in the same room or not.

Mark Tanner is the Co-Founder and COO, Qwilr.

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