An In-Depth Guide to Remote Selling
Virtual selling is among the most prominent business trends you should follow.
A few years ago, salespeople started conducting their meetings online to reach a broader audience and make their processes more efficient. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the evolution of online sales, forcing businesses to adapt to the new norm.
Before the pandemic, 27% of businesses worldwide conducted at least half of their sales meetings and other activities virtually. In 2021, this number skyrocketed to 71%. That’s a 163% increase in only a couple of years.
Once a competitive advantage, remote selling is now a must for every business looking to future-proof its success. In this guide, you’ll see how to leverage it fully and take your sales process to the next level.
Online Selling Requirements
To take advantage of remote selling, you must first embrace the technological revolution. All the tools you need are out there. You just have to make them an integral part of your pipelines.
Here are some of the most common remote sales tools.
Video Chat Software and Webcam
There’s a variety of video conferencing tools you can use to conduct your sales meetings. Zoom and Skype are among the most popular options, but you can explore others if they meet your unique processes and needs.
To ensure high video quality, it’s best to use third-party webcams over built-in ones. The latter might do the trick at the beginning if you’re not willing to invest immediately, but you’ll want to switch eventually.
Working remotely shouldn’t prevent effective collaboration. While it’s easier to get everyone on the same page in person, lots of tools can ensure a streamlined online workflow.
You’ll need a comprehensive calendar or scheduling software to set up all sales calls and follow-up activities. You should also implement cloud storage to have all your proposals, contracts, and other documents in one place. The good news is that these tools are usually affordable, so they won’t involve hefty costs.
A CRM Platform
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a must-have, even if you’re selling in person. With virtual sales, their importance skyrockets. Effective management of all your potential customers is critical to increasing conversions and sales. Plus, it lets you stay in touch with the current ones and keep them loyal.
A good CRM solution should have an integrated email automation system. It’s an essential part of a sales funnel, so it’s worth investing in a capable solution if your platform doesn't have it.
If you set up the right equipment and processes, you can reap the many benefits of remote sales. Let’s see what they are.
How Remote Selling Helps Your Business
Remote sales can positively impact just about every aspect of your business. Here are the main benefits of selling remotely over traditional methods.
1. Meeting Your Customers’ Needs
As mentioned, the COVID pandemic drastically changed the way businesses work. Due to the restrictions, buyers couldn’t do as much in-person shopping as they wanted. As a result, remote interactions became the norm.
Even after the lockdown, people kept preferring this method. According to a McKinsey report, 70-80% of buyers and sellers prefer remote human interactions and self-service over in-person shopping. By conducting your sales meetings virtually, you’re matching the customers’ desired buying methods.
2. Higher Efficiency
In-person sales involve much more effort than simply jumping on a Zoom call. Virtual selling frees up your sales team’s time and lets them get more done.
A Vidyard survey showed that almost 60% of sales professionals saw an increase in productivity after adopting video sales. In addition, 56% of respondents said virtual selling minimized the need for time-consuming emails and texts.
3. More Profits
Fewer in-person sales meetings mean less travel and associated costs. After the initial investment in the right equipment, you can drastically cut the costs of your sales process. This will immediately boost your bottom line.
Better yet, video sales seem to be more effective than in-person meetings in many cases. The Vidyard report mentioned above showed that leveraging video selling increased the close rate of more than 50% of surveyed sales professionals.
As you can see, there are many strong arguments in favor of remote sales. But before you reap these benefits, you’ll need to check an important box.
The Challenge: Managing a Remote Sales Team
Your sales team makes or breaks the success of your remote sales strategy. The absence of regular face-to-face interactions with your team can make it harder to ensure everyone hits their targets and stays motivated.
Proactive companies have already found ways to overcome these challenges and build effective remote teams. Here’s how you can do the same.
1. Prioritize Communication
Before you start working on sales pitches, funnels, and other aspects of your strategy, you need to ensure seamless communication. Doing so involves using all the necessary channels and establishing clear lines of communication.
According to a HubSpot survey, 40% of remote workers claimed to need more communication tools, and another 40% would like more support from their teams and managers. Your team shouldn’t be a part of these statistics, as managing them and achieving your goals can be much harder.
Now, remote work doesn’t mean everyone should be accessible at all times. In fact, this is more likely to backfire than yield any good results. What you should do is set up different communication channels for other purposes.
For instance, you can use email if you want to pass around information that doesn’t require immediate action. If you need an answer to a quick question, online collaboration tools like Slack can be a great option. Finally, you can use the same video platforms for selling to hold meetings with your team.
Effective and timely communication is the essence of remote work success. Invest time and effort in building the right system, and you’ll have a solid foundation on which you’ll grow your business.
2. Set Clear Targets and KPIs
Setting clear expectations is crucial to overcoming the negative effects of remote work. If your team is on the same page and you make transparency a core value, everything will flow more smoothly.
Ensure that your targets are clear, measurable, and achievable. Then, implement KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track your sales team’s progress. Some key KPIs to focus on include:
- Sales calls scheduled
- Sales calls held
- Leads generated
- Sales closed
You can use project management software to make targets and KPIs visible to everyone involved and let employees record their progress easily. Ask your team to update the metrics daily or create an interval that better suits your sales process.
It’s also a good idea to have daily check-ins with your team. It can be as simple as a message asking about their progress and milestones. You can even partially automate these messages, so they won’t take up much time.
3. Go the Extra Mile With Teamwork
There’s usually some healthy competition among salespeople. Not only is this normal, but it also makes everyone more productive. However, a remote setting can turn this competition toxic and alienate your team members.
In-person collaboration builds trust and office friendships more easily. Without it, there’s a higher chance your team members will look at each other as just competitors instead of colleagues. Plus, individual recognition of sales superstars is more common than team rewards.
To counter this, you should give your remote sales reps more socializing opportunities. If live team-building sessions aren’t an option, find a virtual alternative that will bring people together and let them connect.
You should also keep emphasizing the importance of teamwork and rewarding any behavior that fosters it. Encourage your team members to help one another through workshops, sales meeting simulations, and similar ways.
By nature, remote work will always be more isolating than office work. Do everything you can to bring your people together, and you can bridge the gap between remote and in-office settings.
4. Build an Effective Onboarding System
Remote onboarding carries its fair share of challenges. Not seeing someone in person makes it harder to see if they’re settling into their new role. Plus, it leaves more room for delayed communication, which adds to the hassle.
The best way around this is to develop a clearly structured onboarding process. After the technicalities like contracts and employee documents, start training your new team member using various tools and content.
You can mix text, video, and interactive content to create a course-like onboarding experience. If you can’t oversee the employee directly, ensure someone’s available to answer their questions and help.
Proper onboarding saves you many headaches down the line and helps your business meet its sales goals more quickly. Give your new sales rep the guidance they need from the get-go, and you’ll maximize your team’s results.
5. Get Creative With Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is another aspect that works quite differently in a remote setting. Your sales reps won’t be in an office equipped with the tools, guidelines, and other resources they need to hit their targets. Instead, you’ll have to digitize them.
The good news is that technology makes sales enablement more effective and convenient. With the right tools, you can gather everything your team needs in one place.
For instance, you can have a shared folder where you’ll gather guidelines, details on different remote sales techniques, and similar information. Your team can even contribute to the folder by sharing suggestions, which will foster teamwork and collaboration.
If you need to provide training, you can use screen sharing or remote desktop technologies to ensure that the process doesn’t vary much from in-person training.
6. Don’t Micromanage Your Sales Teams
As a business owner, you might have to let go of control when you build a remote team, at least to an extent. This isn’t easy, so you might feel the urge to micromanage your sales reps.
According to Statista, 64% of US workers felt micromanaged while working remotely. Even though the number is higher in some countries, the global average is 48%. That’s almost half of all remote workforce wishing they had more freedom in their workplace.
Do your best to resist micromanagement, as proceeding on that path can only backfire. If every other person in your team feels micromanaged, you risk losing your top talent. A survey by Trinity Solutions showed that almost 70% of micromanaged employees considered changing jobs because of this issue. Moreover, 36% of respondents went through with it and switched jobs.
Even the most effective sales activities and processes won’t do much if you damage your team’s morale with micromanagement. Foster a culture of trust, give your sales reps freedom, and they’ll perform better.
7. Hold Regular 1:1s
The best way for sales leaders to stay in touch with everything without micromanagement is by scheduling 1:1s with team members. They might take some time off your schedule, but they’re more than worth it.
First of all, 1:1s let you get a deeper insight into each team member and their performance. In a group meeting, you can only glance over individual performance, so this is a great opportunity to see if any issues are worth looking into.
A 1:1 also gives your team members a chance to give you feedback or express concerns. Not everyone is comfortable doing this in a group setting, and this feedback can be invaluable to tweaking your processes.
Finally, 1:1s are far more personal than group meetings, allowing you to establish closer connections with your team members. Some face time can go a long way in a remote setting, so don’t underestimate its value.
Build a High-Performing Team
Remote selling is a massive opportunity every business should take advantage of. It brings a plethora of benefits if you set it up properly. In-person selling will keep falling behind its virtual counterpart, so the sooner you embrace new technologies and processes, the better your results will be.
Don’t forget that communication is key when working remotely. Trust, transparency, and accountability are building blocks of well-performing teams, so build your culture around them. Then adjust your sales processes so that they use all the available technologies to the fullest.
As your business grows, review your systems occasionally to see where you can make changes. Stay up to date with the latest tools and practices, and remote sales will support long-term growth.