Managing a Remote Sales Team: The Importance of Face Time

millennials prefer face-to-face communication

Face time. It’s necessary for your customers, but it’s even more necessary for your employees. If you’re managing a remote sales team, you have a responsibility to ensure that your employees feel valued. But that can be difficult when you’re thousands of miles apart and talk only when necessary.

One of the core obstacles of managing a remote sales team is overcoming the absence of office camaraderie.

Remote employees need to work harder to maintain office connections. It’s not as simple as walking by someone’s desk in the morning and waving hello.  

Why we need face time

Things can get lost in translation pretty easily over phone and email. Sarcasm doesn’t translate. And what do those ellipses mean? I’m not sure why they trailed off like that…

We are accustomed to presenting ourselves in person. Even on a conference call where no one can see you, you might use emphatic hand gestures to make your point. It’s ingrained. We crave in-person interaction.

millennials prefer face-to-face communication

Don’t believe that the younger generation only wants to text. According to a study done at Bentley University, 51 percent of millennials prefer talking face-to-face over other forms of communication.

It’s fair to say that talking is easier in-person. You’re less likely to misinterpret what someone says because you’re able to read body language. It’s also easier to relate in-person. Participation is simplified, taking direction is clearer, and relationships are built.

Here’s how you, as a sales manager, can use facetime to create a more unified team.

In-person

Let’s start with a classic. Make it a point to meet regularly in-person.

Meetings

Teams that are only within a few miles of each other can meet in person once a month or more frequently to ensure everyone is on the same page. This is when you should get your most strategic game planning done. If your team is distributed across the U.S. (or across several countries), meeting twice a year to prioritize your goals is helpful for your overall success.

Some members of the team might not feel comfortable speaking up on a conference call. That said, if they’re in a room with people they’ve spoken to on a personal level–and they can gauge everyone’s reaction by surveying the room–they might be more willing to share that great idea they have.

One-on-one meetings are meaningful to employees, too. It gives them an opportunity to show their manager their strengths and demonstrate value. One-on-ones are also great for strengthening that bond between employee and supervisor.

managing a remote sales team

Parties

Throwing a party for your employees is not a frivolous venture. Spending time together off the clock improves team unity. This is a chance for you to stop being a manager for a few hours and get to know your team.

Lots of companies have retreats with team building exercises and icebreakers. You can incorporate these games into your work parties. When you get back to your desk after the weekend, you’ll have a better idea of who everyone in your chat channel is. It also creates a lot of fun memories to try and top at the next party.

DemandZEN loves company parties.At least twice a year our employees get together for a few hours in one location to spend quality time together.

Video calling

When you can’t meet with your team in-person regularly, schedule one on one video conferences. This is an absolute must when managing a remote sales team.

Go over personal goals and quotas. See what members of your team need from you to help them succeed. Also use this time to brainstorm ideas and talk about what is and isn’t working.

These types of meetings need to be video chats to increase participation. When you meet on the phone, it’s not always clear you have the other person’s full attention. Video calling makes it easier to stay on the same page and gives you indications when someone is not engaged.

Encourage chat time

Direct and group chats are an important form of face time. No, it’s not the same as a video call but it’s still an opportunity to reach out and connect in a more personal way.

Depending on the type of environment you’re working in, sales can be cutthroat. Establishing a team mentality among sales representatives is important. Sales should be a supportive department and should have clear cut goals.

Constant communication and relationship building is a part of reducing tension that might exist because of the inherent nature of sales.

If you’re only meeting once a week over the phone, odds are your team doesn’t get a lot of time to catch up. You might be using your company’s chat channel, but it’s usually all business. Some employees go days without communicating. That’s days of no meetings, no chat, no email. A lot of things can happen in a person’s life over that time. If no one is asking “What’s new with you?” they probably won’t share those events.

Radio silence is not good for your employees. As a manager, encourage interaction among your team. It’s your responsibility to start the conversation. Set a precedent of sharing personal and professional good news.

Daily conversations like this can  improve employee happiness. Don’t forget to have employees attach actual pictures of themselves to their chat profile. You want to remember that you’re talking to a real person.

Coax the shy ones out of hiding

It can be difficult for shy employees to enjoy working remotely. If they’re not speaking up regularly, they can be forgotten. Face time with shyer employees is vital to keep them onboard and make them feel like part of the team. Spend extra time engaging with these employees.

Personality tests are fun and practical

Consider taking a DISC assessment or other similar personality test with your team. These tests can be fun and can identify shared personality traits. Allow employees to take it on their own time and schedule a discussion after everyone completes it. Hopefully it brings team members who don’t speak often closer together because of shared traits–or at the very least prompt interesting conversations.

Connect Socially

Connecting on LinkedIn is valuable to set the standard of how your team should be interacting with clients. Social is a large part of the overall sales strategy. It’s vital our team joins the conversation. Endorse your co-workers for skills they’ve demonstrated. Give them positive reviews on their profile. This type of interaction is great for morale and supports your sales team.

Whether you engage with your team in-person or virtually, managing a remote sales team means you have to constantly connect with your employees. Carve out some time for each of your co-workers so they understand how important they are to the success of the department. They’ll thank you for it.

DemandZEN is a team of cold callers and marketers focused on demand generation. Does implementing an external sales team make sense for you? Let’s talk.