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How to build a remote sales team: 6-step guide

How to build a remote sales team: 6-step guideIvana Georgievska
August 17, 2022

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How to build a remote sales team? 

Here's a 6-step guide to building a killer remote sales team.

Your business needs a stellar remote sales force  

The difference to your company between a functional sales team and a stellar one is enormous. It could be the fine line between surviving or smashing revenue targets out of the park.

No one sets out to build a mediocre team. Sometimes it just happens that way over time.

There are many reasons why you might want to take the time to re-evaluate your current team - or else plan to build a new one from scratch:

  • Rapid company growth requires more specialized sales talent (or in the case of many startups, the transition from CEO/Founder as the sole salesperson to building a dedicated sales team)
  • Launching into a new market 
  • Staff turnover leads to a requirement for new hires

In this 6-step guide on how to build a remote sales team, we are providing a list of tips and best practices gleaned from recruiting high volume of sales experts for our clients and sales directors who have built highly successful teams. 

So how do you build a remote sales team?

These tips will help any business looking to increase sales performance from the get go. 

Building your remote sales team

From sales managers to company culture, there are many factors that go into the framework of finding the best sales personalities and molding them into a cohesive unit that exceeds targets.

No good team exists without a great leader! 

  • A successful sales team needs an inspiring leader to drive everyone forward and make sure targets are met
  • The leader always sets clear goals and expectations, divided into achievable milestones
  • The best bosses affect change, creating actionable tasks that improve the skills of their staff members, professionally and personally
  • They understand that the bigger picture points to a well-knit group of individuals that come together to form a top-level team
  • Staff behave in a manner that relates to the atmosphere created by the manager. Through a combination of leading by example and experience, bosses portray qualities that motivate their staff
  • Sales managers set the tone, both consciously and in subtle ways

1. Creating the right environment for your remote sales team

Personal attributes aside, the best managers build the groundwork for a successful sales team by creating an environment for them to thrive in. 

Transparency is a good starting point, as it will help build trust. Managers should reward staff when they have performed well.

Recognizing accomplishments lends itself to a positive working environment where everyone feels valued. 

These can come via small details like acknowledging good work and rewarding staff with incentives when they exceed expectations.

Celebrating success promotes worth. Even the best reps still need to hear they are doing a good job from time to time - it helps to relieve pressure.

While you cannot physically organize and manage your remote sales team, here are some ways to create a good remote sales environment:

First and foremost, be sure to equip your team with the necessary software to collaborate with each other from home.

This includes CRM and other sales enablement tools as well.

  • Encourage communication and transparency in weekly virtual stand up meetings, routine one-on-ones
  • Encourage an “open-door” policy over tools like Slack or email where people can reach out to anybody by simply sending a message.
  • Organize virtual coffee or lunch sessions where the remote workers get a chance to catch up and hang out with each other in a virtual informal setting

Spirits stay high, and staff are motivated to do the best job possible.

Incentive-based sales environment

Every sales environment, be it in-office, remote, B2B or B2C, operates with some sort of incentive plan. 

An incentivized sales environment nurtures healthy competition and motivates the sales reps to meet or exceed their sales goals.

It also helps in cultivating a goal-driven environment on your sales floor. 

This type of environment allows your managers to set personal and team-wide goals to focus on each month, quarter, or year. 

This not only motivates your reps to meet their goals but also provides a way for the managers to measure progress and growth over time across the team.

Lastly, in a motivated sales environment, you will be able to create positivity and a sense of achievement amongst the sales reps by publicly broadcasting their wins and incentivizing their performance

Tried and tested ways to craft a good sales environment

The best sales environment motivates and inspires your salespeople and drives your organizational success. 

2. Building the reputation of your company

Word travels fast when it comes to the working culture - no matter the industry. A bad professional environment can lead to a poor reputation, which then makes it harder to attract top talent.

A good reputation will do the opposite, however. All staff members want to work in a proactive, positive setting where they feel liberated to thrive.

It will be easier to hire the best staff if the company becomes known as a place where sales reps desire to work. 

Perfecting the company culture isn’t one dimensional. It goes both ways. 

Reps under your setup will be able to thrive, while the ones working for other companies are likely to start making eyes in the direction of your business. 

3. Recruiting high-level reps

Qualifier, closer, both 

Understanding the defined role of your staff is an essential component to building a killer sales team. Once you know the type of roles, the next aspect involves finding a good fit.

Avoid hiring reps from Fortune 500 companies. 

Many sales managers are tempted to go for high-level reps from Fortune 500 companies. This isn’t always the best fit for a company, however. 

An A-star closer might seem better on paper than reps with less experience.

But if they are coming from a leading brand, there is a chance that they haven’t needed to exert themselves too much to sell a product.

In smaller companies, selling the vision often holds as much weight as the product.

A-star reps will likely be used to having extensive resources at their disposal, which is something they won’t get in smaller setups.

Much of the decision-making process around your hires relates to where your business stands financially and the outlook of its growth forecast.

Unless you’re the VP of Sales at Google, you probably have to make budget concessions when hiring top-level sales managers.

How to Avoid Random Recruiting

Scorecard

Despite looking through CVs and interviewing candidates, employers often hire based on their gut feeling. 

Those applying for a role might be interviewed by two or three separate people who are impressed enough to trust in their instincts. 

Yet they don’t have a clear indication as to whether the candidate will be a success.

To be more thorough in the recruiting process, build a scorecard - a single-page document that contains four sections. 

The first is the mission, which is a short statement of one to five sentences that describes the key role.

Next, define the job target by developing three to five specific outcomes that candidates must accomplish to fit the requirements for the position.

Examples might include:

  •  Convert x amount of leads within a six-month period
  •  Build an outbound team within the next nine months 

Expectation should be high, yet achievable. Low performers will be automatically disqualified from the process.

However, if goals aren’t unrealistic, candidates will think that you are making outlandish expectations. 

The knock-on effect this has will make it impossible to find the best candidate.

The third step involves creating as many role-based competencies that you believe someone should possess to achieve success in the role.

Competencies to look for in sales reps include being proficient at cold calling and a willingness to learn.

Try to be objective and ask existing employees to provide words and phrases in relation to how they see the company culture.

Finally, show your scorecard to the other people involved in the recruiting process to see if it aligns with the role. 

By using a scorecard, everyone involved knows which questions to ask candidates and what aspects to test. Your hiring decision will be based on real information; not a gut feeling.

It is recommended to share your scorecard with the recruiters.

Hunger, willingness to learn, and an ability to listen.

If you’re a startup, or an early stage business, going for salespeople with an edge could prove to be the best route forward. 

That doesn’t mean finding personalities that are hard to work with, or lone wolves. But it does incorporate finding those who have faced and overcome previous struggles.

You want people to possess two key traits: hunger to succeed and a willingness to master their craft. 

Discover candidates who are sponges and ready to absorb information. Not only will it help them learn about the company, it will also put them in good stead when dealing with leads.

The art of selling comes down to an ability to listen.

While many reps believe they need to talk to sell a product, it’s those that listen to their customers’ pain points that will prosper.

The most successful sales reps have to be:

  • Customer-centric
  • Fast thinking
  • Honest
  • Efficient
  • Very competitive

Define the main traits that describe your company culture and add those to the scorecard. 

Leader within the team.

It’s all well and good having an excellent sales manager, but they can’t do it alone.

The best teams feature staff members that thrive when taking on an extra layer of responsibility. They hold themselves accountable individually and within their wider role in the group.

These reps are in regular communication with their managers, providing updates with an overview of current objectives. 

Not only do staff members with these traits add to the overall quality of a sales team, they are also likely to make good future managers.

Define and match your company values.

As a manager, it’s important to recruit people that fit into the company culture and align with the values that you have created. 

Everyone needs to pull in the right direction for there to be harmony and cohesion.

Hiring someone that isn’t a good fit for the organization could spell trouble for the team in the long run. Even if the hire is good at selling, there still needs to be an overall fit within the wider structure of the group. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good fit—include it in your scorecard.

Use metrics to see how new hires perform (let go the low performers).

When you first hire someone it can be hard to tell whether they are suited to the role if you only measure success by the leads they’ve won and the revenue generated.

Onboard your new salesperson.

Recruiting takes plenty of time and energy. Don’t lose that energy by incorrectly onboarding new hires. 

This point will be discussed later in greater detail, but finding a rep is not the end of the road - it’s the beginning. 

You need to know someone’s qualities as soon as possible, so you have to onboard them as best as you can.

Instead, focus on smaller actions like activity-based metrics and intermediate KPIs. Monitor how they behave on calls, how many meetings they acquire, and the amount of leads they’ve qualified.

Ask to be bcc’d into emails and look at how they progress a lead.

This will save valuable time as you can’t wait six to nine months to find out if a sales rep is any good, at which point you will need to find another one.


4. Structuring the Sales Team

From a founder sale to scaling a team.

When a company is still in the early stages of taking a product to market, you aren’t necessarily selling your product - you’re conveying the story of your product/service and the problem it solves. 

The aim is to convince people to be part of that story. All commercial activities are often led by the founder.

They are the best person to tell the brand story. 

Once you understand the intricacies and framework of selling your product or service, you then want people who are capable of selling it for you. 

It’s at this stage where hiring two to three sales reps that can learn from you becomes necessary.

Now that you have a few members of staff and are generating revenue, it’s time to scale your sales process.

You understand how to sell your product and have nailed down a process that achieves results - it’s time to see if it works across a team.

There will be some room for diversification as you will need to adapt to having a team to work with. 

The goal is for you and your team to understand the metrics required to succeed and segment roles with staff specialized in areas where their strengths come to the fore.

Have a clear sales process

Having a clear sales process helps with onboarding new staff and it works as a blueprint for all reps to enjoy success. 

Not everyone can be a top salesperson, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. This is where the sales process comes into play.

  • A good process will enable all staff members to close deals and perform better
  • It acts as a way to onboard new staff members seamlessly
  • There needs to be an organized and easily accessible way to engage with each new incoming prospect
  • Take appropriate steps to qualify prospects and turn them into customers

Turning your team into specialists

Having a handful of specialist sales reps is generally better than a dozen all-rounders.

On paper, it’s easy to think there is power in numbers.

Therefore a team of between 10 and 20 reps might initially seem like a good idea. 

However, it could also point to a setup that is still trying to figure out their best sales process, one where no one is specialized.

On the other hand, a team of five to 10 reps might be better positioned to achieve quicker results—especially if each one knows the exact metrics and individual KPIs to bring success.

You can segment with just two people if you are far enough into understanding the makeup of what you are selling. 

Once you have the metrics and know your market, you can accelerate at full speed—whether it’s with a team of 2 or 10 salespeople.

Understanding strengths and weaknesses  

It’s vital to get to the undercurrent of the team’s personalities so you can determine their strengths and weaknesses. 

Find out what makes them tick - managers of teams need time to understand the psyche of their staff and determine who tends to perform at a higher level.

The things you should look out for are:

  • Who is good at qualifying?
  • Who excels at closing?
  • Who is better at prospecting?
  • Who is better at managing and growing existing customers?

That’s also why building a scorecard when recruiting is important, as you want someone to fit a specific role.

If possible split the team into sections and have some working on the opening stages of a sale, with others working on the final phases.

Managers need to show their own strengths to be able to see the traits in their team.

It’s up to the manager to not only identify potential strengths and weaknesses of their staff but also accentuate those strengths while mitigating the weak points.

5. Creating your sales machine

Building an effective sales machine is an indication of a rock-solid process that enables you to accurately predict outputs (sales, profits etc) based on inputs (number of meetings, calls, team members etc). 

Nailing down this process enables you to rapidly scale, achieve revenue targets and help the team be at its most effective.

We offer a proven way how to build a successful sales operation: 

Selling is a process

Make your sales process efficient. 

There is no process without leads, which come from inquiries. The first port of call is response time and the contents of that initial conversation.

You should respond to any inquiry as soon as possible - and certainly don’t take longer than 24 hours.

Once you respond, it’s time to qualify their needs and see if there is a good fit. Determine a list of prequalifying questions with your team to enable them to filter the best-qualified prospects.

  •  Ask about budget
  •  Find out the purchase/contract timeline
  • Are you speaking with the decision maker?
  • Ask technical questions centered around the product/service that may be necessary to the sale

If you get positive answers, send them a follow-up email (or better - a call!) with a presentation of the product.

After the follow-up, jump back on the phone and schedule an appointment to do a live demo. 

Outline an oral proposal to illustrate the presentation during the meeting. If all goes well, you should build a written plan and send it to the client.

Visualize the sales funnel of your pipeline

Executing the physical steps of a deal is the primary goal, but it helps to visualize selling a product/service. 

The sales funnel helps reps focus on their goals with more clarity and is a way to predict some elements of the process.

Overall, your funnel acts as the foundation for your process and helps strategize taking leads from the initial prospecting stage through to becoming customers. 

There will be greater visibility over deals in progress, and you can look deeper into your sales funnel for long-term strategies.

Identify roadblocks

Pipelines also help identify potential roadblocks in deals. Managers can step in halfway through a deal if it’s going south and guide it back on track.

It’s also worth analyzing to see if blocking points occur due to the number of pipeline steps you’ve defined. It might be that you have too many or too few steps.

  • Not enough steps mean the process is probably too fast and may leave reps feeling a sense of urgency and that they need to rush deals
  • Too many might end up becoming time-consuming and challenging to manage. A visual sales pipeline helps you come to these conclusions sooner, avoids time-wasting time and makes the team more efficient.

Focus on the best leads through scoring

Focus on real leads. 

Loading prospects into the pipeline and hoping they convert feels good. But that initial joy will soon turn to frustration if you overload the pipeline. Especially if they don’t amount to much.

Less is more when it comes to prospects that are likely to convert. 

Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game. Focus on the leads that you  know have the best chance of converting. Less is more when it comes to prospects that are more likely to convert. Streamline your pipeline, so only the best leads remain.

There are times where you can act on your gut feeling - if it’s positive. Follow up on your instincts - even if it doesn’t appear to fit your necessary criteria. 

Go with your implicit feeling and refine the analysis afterwards.

Define your perfect customer

What does your perfect customer look like? It’s important to identify key traits in your prospects so you have a better idea about which deals fit your product or services and how to close them. 

Your best customer is a combination of six different criteria:

  1. Does your product/service solve their pain point?
  2. Do they generate enough revenue for you?
  3. How hard are they to close? 
  4. What can you do to make closing easier?
  5. Will they grow over time?
  6. What is the risk of losing them?
  7. Do you perform better in specific industries?

Defining your perfect customer is vital to building a road map that helps you find similar ones in the future, instead of prospecting random companies.

Build a prospecting list and reach it systematically

One of the key aspects of prospecting is finding potential leads for your reps. A good way to start is by making a list of companies that you think are worth reaching out to - ones that first your research of a perfect customer.

Share that list with the cold calling team so they can begin initial contact, or use marketing automation software to initiate contact. 

This is something all companies should do, no matter the size. Smaller organizations should also adhere to this process because it only takes three people to have - one marketer, one caller and one closer.

Qualify your prospecting list

When doing cold calling, each call should give you additional information on your prospect. Even if you don’t get the target person on the phone, you can use the call to validate some information:

Once you are in contact with the correct person, ask about the solutions they currently use to see if there is a hunger for your product or service. 

And if they don’t already have a solution in place, instead of offering your one straight away, ask why they aren’t using anything.

There are obviously factors like budget and decision makers to take into account, but before you even get to that stage, it’s important to know if there is a good fit between prospect and product.

  • Size of the company
  • Location
  • Sector of activity
  • Actual position of the person you are trying to reach

Score your leads

It’s all about the leads. But not any old lead will do. Qualifying your prospects through various means is essential to score them and cut through the noise.

There are plenty of ways to score a lead: define different criteria, rate your leads against those set criterias, and add all the subscores to create a global score of the lead. 

You define different red flags, and if one appears, move swiftly onto another lead.

Some red flags you can pay attention to are:

  • The company is too big to use your product/service
  • No budget
  • Not the right problem/solution fit
  • Account is too small with no potential

It is vital to determine whether a lead is low quality or has no chance to close. Doing so will save you time and help your sales team focus on the right leads.

6. Build your sales infrastructure

Companies are constantly striving get their business in the stage of growth. 

Many of them that may have launched just a few years ago are scrambling to have their organizations keep pace with their increasing client bases and revenue goals. 

They discover that owner-led sales team that relied on gut instinct and desire is no longer sufficient if they want to keep up with the competition. 

They need to build a foundation that can support their growth objectives while building a sales and marketing infrastructure that includes salespeople, processes, and marketing support. 

It can be a daunting task.  What should be done first? - New call-to-action. 

The sales and marketing component of your business is responsible for:

  • Finding clients
  • Making sales
  • Generating revenue

This is what drives cash flow. In order to be as successful as possible, you need to align Marketing and Sales. 

For every dollar spent on staff, is another investment in the sales infrastructure. Sales reps are only as good the information they have, so it’s important that you build an infrastructure around them. 

Even in smaller companies, where marketing resources aren’t as vast, there should be a plan in place. Every company needs a structure that brings inbound leads.

Useful tips to generate sales leads:

  • Find the best way to generate the leads that match your ideal customer.
  • Equip your sales team with arguments
  • Customers intending to use products - and who genuinely want to solve their pain points - will have plenty of questions about a product or service.
  • It’s good to receive questions, as it means there is genuine interest in what you’re selling.
  • Being ready to deal with frequent customer objections is also essential for reps to be able to progress the sale to the next step.

Here are some of the best platforms to help you generate sales:

  • Company website
  • Paid search campaigns
  • Marketing automation
  • Downloadable case studies
  • Social media outreach
  • Search Engine Optimization (applied to all content)
  • Blogging
  • Display and print advertising
  • Sales databases
  • Events

Your sales team should provide your sales team with:

  • Common objection handling
  • Strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
  • Sales pitches that are practice-proven to work
  • Find the best arguments for your product or service, including the use of ROI statistics, awards won and customer testimonials.

Customers are only going to invest in a product or service that they think is certified. They need to believe it solves a problem they have in the long term. 

Using stats and data gives credibility and supports the good things that you want to say about a product/service.

Data and statistics act as a safety net for customers and are often the difference-maker that helps push a customer over the line when making a purchase decision.

To increase the success and longevity of your business, you need to have a team of experienced sales reps that know how to make profit remotely.

If you don’t aim towards growth, your business may not be flexible enough to withstand hard times.  

Do you need high-performing remote marketing & sales professionals in your business? 

Our team at Talentroo will assist you immediately.  

Get in touch with us at mail@talentroo.com to set up a call. 

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