SlideShare a Scribd company logo
Out of sight, 
out of mind? 
PETER THOMSON and DAVID 
BATUP look at the challenge of 
managing remote sales teams 
K 
16 | Winning Edge 
he best sales teams are composed of the best 
sales executives or reps, regardless of where 
they work — in different countries, offices or 
homes. With the right sales management, 
remote or virtual teams can be more effective 
than those based in the corporate office. Frequently, sales 
managers are credited with being good at managing 
remote teams. The assumption is that they would be, 
because the field sales team are one group of people who 
traditionally have never been office bound. But we are 
starting to see examples where this is not the case and the 
risks and difficulties associated with remote teams are 
impacting performance. 
It’s all too easy to overlook the performance, morale 
and development needs of a remote sales team. Often, 
sales managers can succumb to the pressure of firefighting, 
running with deals themselves, reporting upwards and all 
the distraction that working in a corporate office entails. 
This often relegates their direct reports to second place. 
Slipping into this mode of working 
leads the sales manager into a situation 
from which it is very hard to recover. 
Typically the warning signs of poor 
performance are not easy to spot and 
can be masked by the individual. 
Performance indicators, such as pipeline 
and revenue achievement do show 
individual performance but the time lag 
in reporting and length of the sales 
process can mask problems. And from 
the remote sales rep’s perspective the 
situation can also be difficult. At times 
they may be struggling on their own 
and finding it hard to stay motivated. 
Many of the problems in being a remote based employee 
and managing remote staff are common across job types. 
With the right sales management, remote 
or virtual teams can be more effective 
than those based in the corporate office 
This list is typical of the issues faced 
Trust: Establishing trust between a manager and a home-based 
virtual worker to combat suspicion that working at 
home means slacking or abuse of agreements. 
Work management: organising and specifying work in 
terms of results so that it can be accomplished without 
detailed management supervision. 
Information management: ensuring that a remote team 
member is provided with the same access to formal and 
informal information as their colleagues in the office. 
Social and team aspects: isolation and detachment 
experienced by those who are remote (‘the loneliness of 
the long-distance worker’) and lack of motivation and 
engagement with team goals and timescales. 
Visibility and development: the propensity of managers 
and office colleagues to see remote workers as out of 
sight, out of mind; concern by remote workers that they 
are harming their career advancement; concern that they
;)4-;5)6)/-5-6.-)=:- 
Winning Edge | 17 
could be missing out on training and development 
opportunities offered to office-based colleagues. 
Communications: problems ranging from the realities of 
technology support for home workers, through lack of 
availability of, or skill in using, up-to-date collaboration 
tools, to reluctance to communicate through technology. 
Time management: for the home-based virtual worker, 
being capable of working effectively without the rhythm 
of the office; dealing with family and friends’ belief that 
they are fair game to be interrupted; feelings of guilt 
leading to excessive working hours. 
Homing in on sales — and focusing on outputs 
There is a tendency for sales management to measure 
activity such as the number of calls made, demonstrations 
given or appointments booked as an indicator of goal 
performance. While this is valid, given that there does 
need to be an optimum level of activity to achieve targets, 
it’s less effective when the individuals are remotely based. 
These factors should be considered more as guidelines 
than measures of performance. Trust is a major factor 
when managing remote teams. But with trust comes 
responsibility to perform. Where there has to be an 
element of flexible working to achieve sales targets the 
trust factor becomes even more important. 
Flexible or remote working is not a new concept in sales, 
but it does pose the question of who is responsible for 
getting work done. If sales managers divide the territory, 
allocate the patches to individual members of the sales 
team, and direct and dictate what needs to be done, we 
stay with the current ‘industrial age’ model of working. 
But if the remote based sales executives agree what they 
are going to achieve and then carry out the tasks necessary 
to provide the results required, we have a view of work 
more appropriate for sales in the ‘information age’. 
By allowing sales reps to take responsibility for
18 | Winning Edge 
producing results and rewarding them for 
outputs, not inputs, we have a different approach 
to the work required to make the numbers. 
This ‘results only work environment’, or ROWE 
for short, has been adopted very successfully by 
Best Buy, a Fortune 100 company employing 
140,000 people worldwide. This shows that the 
approach is not just a fad among a few small 
companies but is a serious business strategy that 
can have outstanding results. 
This shift toward ROWE does not mean a 100% 
commission-only style of managing or rewarding 
sales executives but it does move the emphasis to 
outcomes. Given that the sales manager cannot be 
everywhere the focus on performance management 
shifts towards the individual and what they can 
achieve. This requires less management time spent 
on an individual’s activity or inputs and more time 
on the factors that generate sales performance: 
QDeals closed by week or month rather than by 
quarter or year 
QConversion rate of leads into prospects 
QProfile and strength of the sales pipeline 
QLevel of repeat business 
QAverage deal size and profitability. 
To find this time sales managers will need to 
re-examine what it is they do day by day. The 
smart approach is to spend time on the tasks that 
motivate, coach and help the remote team to 
outstrip their individual targets. Almost everything 
else should come a poor second. It is easy to 
assess this: just take a quick look at the diary for 
last month and add up the time spent on 
motivation, coaching and helping the remote 
team. If it’s less than 60% it’s time for a rethink. 
So given you have a remote based sales team, 
what is it you can do to focus on results and 
outcomes? We will look at this from the 
performance building blocks of strategy, people 
and process and within these are our top 10 tips 
for improving the performance of your remote 
salespeople. 
Strategy — focus on outcomes, support 
systems and performance management 
Taking the strategic thinking, planning and 
operational sales tasks as done or under way, the 
smart sales manager would do well to consider 
what it is they could do to increase the effectiveness 
of their remote sales team. Many of the ‘meaningful 
and effective’ strategic approaches will take time 
and effort. If we had to choose just three for this 
year these would be our recommendations. 
QMeasure outcomes — but it’s better if managers 
sit down and agree with reps what makes sense. 
They need to agree on how they will both know 
the job is getting done, and what the warning 
signs are if things are slipping. 
5 
It’s very easy for remote reps to feel isolated from the
;)4-;5)6)/-5-6.-)=:- 
Contributor Peter Thomson is director of Wisework, 
a consultancy in the implementation of new working patterns, 
and a visiting Fellow at the Henley Business School. 
petert@wisework.co.uk 01491 628143 www.wisework.co.uk 
Contributor David Batup is founder and COO 
of Perperitus, a specialist in developing sales knowledge 
management and sales enablement solutions for direct, 
remote and partner channel sales teams. db@perperitus.com 
0118 965 4066 www.perperitus.com Linkedin: davidbatup 
Q Look at the CRM system and develop reports 
that are focused on outcomes rather than inputs, 
eg. it’s better to know a conversion rate or volume 
than how many calls have been made. 
QTake performance management seriously. There 
is no point firing off a stinging email to a remote 
rep after the quarter end when it’s clear they have 
not made target. It is much better to know 
beforehand so you can take action to recover the 
situation. Plan to be out with the sales executives 
for a day to visit customers, coach and probably 
most importantly, listen. 
People — hire right, communicate 
and socialise 
Leadership, emotional intelligence (EQ) and 
communication skills are great attributes of any 
sales manager but they come to the fore as critical 
abilities for managing remote reps. The need to 
find techniques that motivate your remote reps is 
critical to helping and coaching them to perform. 
Here are our three favourite people tips. 
QHiring is hard enough without the complication 
of the individual being based remotely. This places 
additional importance on how they are brought 
into the organisation and brought up to speed. It 
is well worth considering a separate ‘onboarding’ 
session for remote reps to help them adjust and 
organise themselves. 
QTalk to people. A survey of remote workers by 
Henley Management College found communication 
was considered to be the most important skill 
needed by managers of remote teams. We are not 
advocating more emails (fewer would be good) but 
strongly encourage managers to find the time to 
call. Managers should sharpen up their EQ skills 
to enhance their listening and develop a sixth 
sense to detect when things are not right. 
QSocialising. It’s very easy for remote reps to feel 
isolated from the team and the company. The risk 
is they start to disengage from the company and 
its goals, leading to the inevitable loss of 
performance and ultimately, resignation. People 
miss out on valuable social interactions when they 
don’t meet face to face. Managers need to organise 
social events, even if it is just that everyone comes 
in on a Friday and goes to the pub at lunchtime. 
Process — time management, sales 
knowledge management (SKM) and training 
Sales managers are not known for their love of 
process. But when it comes to managing a remote 
team, process can become the difference between 
achieving an OK performance and an exceptional 
one. There are four areas we recommend you take 
a close look at. 
QPut it in the diary. Managers need to be organised; 
meetings and teleconferences need to be scheduled 
for remote teams to work at their best. Managing 
outcomes and time management are key to the 
effective running of remote teams. This takes 
effort. Simple techniques such as ring-fenced 
blocks of time and not going into the office prior 
to meeting a remote rep avoids getting embroiled 
in the latest firefight. 
Q If a remote rep cannot gain the same level of 
information, help, best practice, fieldcraft and 
collateral as their office-based colleagues then 
they are at a distinct disadvantage. SKM solutions 
need to be available, preferably via the web 24/7, 
for all travelling and remote staff. 
QConsider a forum addition to your SKM to allow 
a more collaborative and unstructured form of 
help and advice. In this way a remote rep can tap 
into the collective knowledge and understanding 
of the whole team. Open this up to everyone in the 
sales value chain — marketing, pre-sales and 
professional services. 
QFace-to-face training is a highly effective way to 
help remote reps to build contacts, get the low 
down on what works and of course pick up new 
knowledge and skills from the training itself. 
Some companies, such as Microsoft, make training 
part of the individual’s performance goals and 
this should apply especially to salespeople who 
are based away from the office. 
Winning Edge | 19 
team and the company

More Related Content

What's hot

Motivating salespeople
Motivating salespeopleMotivating salespeople
Motivating salespeople
Vlerick Business School
 
Professional services strategic_planning_for_today
Professional services strategic_planning_for_todayProfessional services strategic_planning_for_today
Professional services strategic_planning_for_today
Compliance Consultant
 
CommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
CommissionCrowd Press/Media KitCommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
CommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
CommissionCrowd
 
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLS MENTORSHIP INTRODU...
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLSMENTORSHIPINTRODU...EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLSMENTORSHIPINTRODU...
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLS MENTORSHIP INTRODU...
Abhishek Kumar
 
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
Russell Campbell CFA,CFP®
 
Motivating Without Money Cpa
Motivating Without Money   CpaMotivating Without Money   Cpa
Motivating Without Money Cpa
Colin Taylor
 
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
Trefoil Group
 
5 ps
5 ps5 ps
No More Pay Per Sale
No More Pay Per SaleNo More Pay Per Sale
No More Pay Per Sale
Kumar KS
 
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProject
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProjectTEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProject
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProjectDavid A. Mills
 
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your businessMel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
Mel Feller
 
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring CompaniesM&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
Thomas H Kessler
 
Omni-Proofing Your Organization
Omni-Proofing Your OrganizationOmni-Proofing Your Organization
Omni-Proofing Your OrganizationMonica Gout
 
Who's your most valuable salesperson
Who's your most valuable salespersonWho's your most valuable salesperson
Who's your most valuable salesperson
Vlerick Business School
 
Are You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
Are You Prepared to Delegate SuccessfullyAre You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
Are You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
GrowthSource Coaching | Business Coaching & Advisory Service
 
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales TeamRebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
Work.com - A Salesforce Company
 
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation PhilosophyThe Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
Human Resources & Payroll
 
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performanceUsing+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
Kritika Badhwar
 
Dismantling the sales machine
Dismantling the sales machineDismantling the sales machine
Dismantling the sales machine
Vlerick Business School
 
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
Timothy Holden
 

What's hot (20)

Motivating salespeople
Motivating salespeopleMotivating salespeople
Motivating salespeople
 
Professional services strategic_planning_for_today
Professional services strategic_planning_for_todayProfessional services strategic_planning_for_today
Professional services strategic_planning_for_today
 
CommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
CommissionCrowd Press/Media KitCommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
CommissionCrowd Press/Media Kit
 
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLS MENTORSHIP INTRODU...
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLSMENTORSHIPINTRODU...EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLSMENTORSHIPINTRODU...
EMPOWERING MANAGERS THROUGH POSITIVE POLITICAL SKILLS MENTORSHIP INTRODU...
 
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
Strategic planning e book part ii 82013
 
Motivating Without Money Cpa
Motivating Without Money   CpaMotivating Without Money   Cpa
Motivating Without Money Cpa
 
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.
 
5 ps
5 ps5 ps
5 ps
 
No More Pay Per Sale
No More Pay Per SaleNo More Pay Per Sale
No More Pay Per Sale
 
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProject
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProjectTEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProject
TEAM4_TrueU-LIT_CapstoneProject
 
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your businessMel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
Mel feller looks at the power of motivation in your business
 
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring CompaniesM&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
M&A Communication Essentials for Acquiring Companies
 
Omni-Proofing Your Organization
Omni-Proofing Your OrganizationOmni-Proofing Your Organization
Omni-Proofing Your Organization
 
Who's your most valuable salesperson
Who's your most valuable salespersonWho's your most valuable salesperson
Who's your most valuable salesperson
 
Are You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
Are You Prepared to Delegate SuccessfullyAre You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
Are You Prepared to Delegate Successfully
 
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales TeamRebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
Rebooting Sales: Four Breakthrough Ideas to Unleash Your Sales Team
 
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation PhilosophyThe Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
The Link Between Employee Motivation and Your Compensation Philosophy
 
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performanceUsing+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
Using+gamification+to+improve+contact+center+performance
 
Dismantling the sales machine
Dismantling the sales machineDismantling the sales machine
Dismantling the sales machine
 
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
Putting the X into exit interviews June 2011
 

Similar to Out of sight out of mind

Performance Management project - LG.pptx
Performance Management project - LG.pptxPerformance Management project - LG.pptx
Performance Management project - LG.pptx
hend205267
 
The Interim Advantage
The Interim AdvantageThe Interim Advantage
The Interim Advantage
cleaman
 
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
Paul Chaney
 
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales SuccessFirst-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
Mindmatrix Partner Relationship Manager
 
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
Mindmatrix Partner Relationship Manager
 
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021 Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
Sprintzeal
 
insidesales.com-15-time-wasters
insidesales.com-15-time-wastersinsidesales.com-15-time-wasters
insidesales.com-15-time-wastersAaron Braria
 
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a TitleSales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
Endeavor Management
 
FailSafe Business Growth eBook
FailSafe Business Growth eBookFailSafe Business Growth eBook
FailSafe Business Growth eBookBahaa Moukadam
 
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales TeamsGuide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
Dista
 
Offboard ebook
Offboard ebookOffboard ebook
Offboard ebook
Offboard
 
Keys to Succession Planning
Keys to Succession PlanningKeys to Succession Planning
Keys to Succession Planning
Nunzio Bruno
 
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
Browne & Mohan
 
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdfThe+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
Social Samosa
 
Fh 5 leadership hire secrets
Fh 5 leadership hire secretsFh 5 leadership hire secrets
Fh 5 leadership hire secrets
Tim Hastings
 
L&D's Role In Sales Enablement
L&D's Role In Sales EnablementL&D's Role In Sales Enablement
L&D's Role In Sales EnablementWendy Mack
 
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs" Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
Nataliya Yakushev
 
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA Speech
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA SpeechRETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA Speech
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA SpeechEsdora Rebecca Ochola
 
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent ManagersTalent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
Webanywhere Ltd
 

Similar to Out of sight out of mind (20)

Performance Management project - LG.pptx
Performance Management project - LG.pptxPerformance Management project - LG.pptx
Performance Management project - LG.pptx
 
The Interim Advantage
The Interim AdvantageThe Interim Advantage
The Interim Advantage
 
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
3 Critical Factors in Outbound Lead Generation Success
 
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales SuccessFirst-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
First-Line Managers: The Front Line of Sales Success
 
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
Complimentary Access! SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Research Brief: First-...
 
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021 Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
Operation Manager Interview Questions and Answers 2021
 
insidesales.com-15-time-wasters
insidesales.com-15-time-wastersinsidesales.com-15-time-wasters
insidesales.com-15-time-wasters
 
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a TitleSales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
Sales Excellence - Leaders Need More Than a Title
 
FailSafe Business Growth eBook
FailSafe Business Growth eBookFailSafe Business Growth eBook
FailSafe Business Growth eBook
 
Article winning edge jan 2016
Article winning edge jan 2016Article winning edge jan 2016
Article winning edge jan 2016
 
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales TeamsGuide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
Guide to Effectively Manage Remote Field Sales Teams
 
Offboard ebook
Offboard ebookOffboard ebook
Offboard ebook
 
Keys to Succession Planning
Keys to Succession PlanningKeys to Succession Planning
Keys to Succession Planning
 
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
Sales casualty analysis: why sales numbers do not happen and what to do to ge...
 
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdfThe+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
The+State+of+Careers+In+Retention+Marketing-2.pdf
 
Fh 5 leadership hire secrets
Fh 5 leadership hire secretsFh 5 leadership hire secrets
Fh 5 leadership hire secrets
 
L&D's Role In Sales Enablement
L&D's Role In Sales EnablementL&D's Role In Sales Enablement
L&D's Role In Sales Enablement
 
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs" Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
Ben Legg book manifesto "Marketing for CEOs"
 
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA Speech
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA SpeechRETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA Speech
RETAINING, EVALUATING AND GROWING YOUR TEAM-CCA Speech
 
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent ManagersTalent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
Talent Management: Effective Habits of Talent Managers
 

Out of sight out of mind

  • 1. Out of sight, out of mind? PETER THOMSON and DAVID BATUP look at the challenge of managing remote sales teams K 16 | Winning Edge he best sales teams are composed of the best sales executives or reps, regardless of where they work — in different countries, offices or homes. With the right sales management, remote or virtual teams can be more effective than those based in the corporate office. Frequently, sales managers are credited with being good at managing remote teams. The assumption is that they would be, because the field sales team are one group of people who traditionally have never been office bound. But we are starting to see examples where this is not the case and the risks and difficulties associated with remote teams are impacting performance. It’s all too easy to overlook the performance, morale and development needs of a remote sales team. Often, sales managers can succumb to the pressure of firefighting, running with deals themselves, reporting upwards and all the distraction that working in a corporate office entails. This often relegates their direct reports to second place. Slipping into this mode of working leads the sales manager into a situation from which it is very hard to recover. Typically the warning signs of poor performance are not easy to spot and can be masked by the individual. Performance indicators, such as pipeline and revenue achievement do show individual performance but the time lag in reporting and length of the sales process can mask problems. And from the remote sales rep’s perspective the situation can also be difficult. At times they may be struggling on their own and finding it hard to stay motivated. Many of the problems in being a remote based employee and managing remote staff are common across job types. With the right sales management, remote or virtual teams can be more effective than those based in the corporate office This list is typical of the issues faced Trust: Establishing trust between a manager and a home-based virtual worker to combat suspicion that working at home means slacking or abuse of agreements. Work management: organising and specifying work in terms of results so that it can be accomplished without detailed management supervision. Information management: ensuring that a remote team member is provided with the same access to formal and informal information as their colleagues in the office. Social and team aspects: isolation and detachment experienced by those who are remote (‘the loneliness of the long-distance worker’) and lack of motivation and engagement with team goals and timescales. Visibility and development: the propensity of managers and office colleagues to see remote workers as out of sight, out of mind; concern by remote workers that they are harming their career advancement; concern that they
  • 2. ;)4-;5)6)/-5-6.-)=:- Winning Edge | 17 could be missing out on training and development opportunities offered to office-based colleagues. Communications: problems ranging from the realities of technology support for home workers, through lack of availability of, or skill in using, up-to-date collaboration tools, to reluctance to communicate through technology. Time management: for the home-based virtual worker, being capable of working effectively without the rhythm of the office; dealing with family and friends’ belief that they are fair game to be interrupted; feelings of guilt leading to excessive working hours. Homing in on sales — and focusing on outputs There is a tendency for sales management to measure activity such as the number of calls made, demonstrations given or appointments booked as an indicator of goal performance. While this is valid, given that there does need to be an optimum level of activity to achieve targets, it’s less effective when the individuals are remotely based. These factors should be considered more as guidelines than measures of performance. Trust is a major factor when managing remote teams. But with trust comes responsibility to perform. Where there has to be an element of flexible working to achieve sales targets the trust factor becomes even more important. Flexible or remote working is not a new concept in sales, but it does pose the question of who is responsible for getting work done. If sales managers divide the territory, allocate the patches to individual members of the sales team, and direct and dictate what needs to be done, we stay with the current ‘industrial age’ model of working. But if the remote based sales executives agree what they are going to achieve and then carry out the tasks necessary to provide the results required, we have a view of work more appropriate for sales in the ‘information age’. By allowing sales reps to take responsibility for
  • 3. 18 | Winning Edge producing results and rewarding them for outputs, not inputs, we have a different approach to the work required to make the numbers. This ‘results only work environment’, or ROWE for short, has been adopted very successfully by Best Buy, a Fortune 100 company employing 140,000 people worldwide. This shows that the approach is not just a fad among a few small companies but is a serious business strategy that can have outstanding results. This shift toward ROWE does not mean a 100% commission-only style of managing or rewarding sales executives but it does move the emphasis to outcomes. Given that the sales manager cannot be everywhere the focus on performance management shifts towards the individual and what they can achieve. This requires less management time spent on an individual’s activity or inputs and more time on the factors that generate sales performance: QDeals closed by week or month rather than by quarter or year QConversion rate of leads into prospects QProfile and strength of the sales pipeline QLevel of repeat business QAverage deal size and profitability. To find this time sales managers will need to re-examine what it is they do day by day. The smart approach is to spend time on the tasks that motivate, coach and help the remote team to outstrip their individual targets. Almost everything else should come a poor second. It is easy to assess this: just take a quick look at the diary for last month and add up the time spent on motivation, coaching and helping the remote team. If it’s less than 60% it’s time for a rethink. So given you have a remote based sales team, what is it you can do to focus on results and outcomes? We will look at this from the performance building blocks of strategy, people and process and within these are our top 10 tips for improving the performance of your remote salespeople. Strategy — focus on outcomes, support systems and performance management Taking the strategic thinking, planning and operational sales tasks as done or under way, the smart sales manager would do well to consider what it is they could do to increase the effectiveness of their remote sales team. Many of the ‘meaningful and effective’ strategic approaches will take time and effort. If we had to choose just three for this year these would be our recommendations. QMeasure outcomes — but it’s better if managers sit down and agree with reps what makes sense. They need to agree on how they will both know the job is getting done, and what the warning signs are if things are slipping. 5 It’s very easy for remote reps to feel isolated from the
  • 4. ;)4-;5)6)/-5-6.-)=:- Contributor Peter Thomson is director of Wisework, a consultancy in the implementation of new working patterns, and a visiting Fellow at the Henley Business School. petert@wisework.co.uk 01491 628143 www.wisework.co.uk Contributor David Batup is founder and COO of Perperitus, a specialist in developing sales knowledge management and sales enablement solutions for direct, remote and partner channel sales teams. db@perperitus.com 0118 965 4066 www.perperitus.com Linkedin: davidbatup Q Look at the CRM system and develop reports that are focused on outcomes rather than inputs, eg. it’s better to know a conversion rate or volume than how many calls have been made. QTake performance management seriously. There is no point firing off a stinging email to a remote rep after the quarter end when it’s clear they have not made target. It is much better to know beforehand so you can take action to recover the situation. Plan to be out with the sales executives for a day to visit customers, coach and probably most importantly, listen. People — hire right, communicate and socialise Leadership, emotional intelligence (EQ) and communication skills are great attributes of any sales manager but they come to the fore as critical abilities for managing remote reps. The need to find techniques that motivate your remote reps is critical to helping and coaching them to perform. Here are our three favourite people tips. QHiring is hard enough without the complication of the individual being based remotely. This places additional importance on how they are brought into the organisation and brought up to speed. It is well worth considering a separate ‘onboarding’ session for remote reps to help them adjust and organise themselves. QTalk to people. A survey of remote workers by Henley Management College found communication was considered to be the most important skill needed by managers of remote teams. We are not advocating more emails (fewer would be good) but strongly encourage managers to find the time to call. Managers should sharpen up their EQ skills to enhance their listening and develop a sixth sense to detect when things are not right. QSocialising. It’s very easy for remote reps to feel isolated from the team and the company. The risk is they start to disengage from the company and its goals, leading to the inevitable loss of performance and ultimately, resignation. People miss out on valuable social interactions when they don’t meet face to face. Managers need to organise social events, even if it is just that everyone comes in on a Friday and goes to the pub at lunchtime. Process — time management, sales knowledge management (SKM) and training Sales managers are not known for their love of process. But when it comes to managing a remote team, process can become the difference between achieving an OK performance and an exceptional one. There are four areas we recommend you take a close look at. QPut it in the diary. Managers need to be organised; meetings and teleconferences need to be scheduled for remote teams to work at their best. Managing outcomes and time management are key to the effective running of remote teams. This takes effort. Simple techniques such as ring-fenced blocks of time and not going into the office prior to meeting a remote rep avoids getting embroiled in the latest firefight. Q If a remote rep cannot gain the same level of information, help, best practice, fieldcraft and collateral as their office-based colleagues then they are at a distinct disadvantage. SKM solutions need to be available, preferably via the web 24/7, for all travelling and remote staff. QConsider a forum addition to your SKM to allow a more collaborative and unstructured form of help and advice. In this way a remote rep can tap into the collective knowledge and understanding of the whole team. Open this up to everyone in the sales value chain — marketing, pre-sales and professional services. QFace-to-face training is a highly effective way to help remote reps to build contacts, get the low down on what works and of course pick up new knowledge and skills from the training itself. Some companies, such as Microsoft, make training part of the individual’s performance goals and this should apply especially to salespeople who are based away from the office. Winning Edge | 19 team and the company