In this discussion I always point out that managing sales reps need not be different – based on whether they are in the office or work remotely.
Here’s what I know.
There is a stigma with remote reps that they don’t work as hard as reps in head office and it is harder to keep track of what they are doing.
That will all depend on how you hold your team accountable. In 2014 most sales people are working remotely.
With the technology we have today, sales people are more mobile and more connected than ever before.
So the question is: How are you holding the team accountable?
As a sales leader you need to be having one-on-one conversations every week.
You need to be managing and reviewing their forecast and activities every two weeks. And on a monthly or bi-weekly basis having sales conference calls with the team.
Team conference calls are a real challenge and few sales leaders do a good job running them.
These meetings have to have a tight timeline and need to be informative, engaged in lots of group discussion and not be focused on reviewing numbers and forecasts.
The line-by-line review is for your one-on-one calls. These calls are a time for the team to engage in discussions that are helpful to the team and to communicate issues, successes and challenges everyone is having – and to then provide some leadership and solutions to these issues.
If you are having an issue with a rep you focus on them and have discussions, manage their activity and results and coach them on what needs to be changed and done differently.
All of this can be done remotely. How?
Religiously booking and making the time to chat and connect with your team and manage them; without exception.
Out of sight does not mean out of mind.
It is incumbent on you as the sales leader to manage your team as if they are all in the office.
Video conferencing allows you to have face-to-face meetings. There are numerous products like Microsoft Lync that allow conferencing and texting capability that allow connectivity throughout your day.
My experience is that as a leader if you have regular, weekly, contact with each of your reps, hold all the reps to the same reporting of numbers, forecasting and activity that you will begin to know who is working and who is not.
Then, you can travel to meet in person with your rep and go on calls and meet with clients.
This will allow you to be out in the field on a monthly basis, meeting customers and prospects and seeing how your rep operates in the field.
If you hold your self to this level of activity and do for each and everyone of your reps then you will run a successful team.
A big part of this success comes from changing your mindset from differentiating between remote and local reps and treating your reps all the same way and holding them all to the same level of management and accountability.
If you do this then it becomes easy to see who is working and who is not.
Now you can deal with that issue – and do so in a timely manner.