It seems simple enough: B2B sales leaders want to lead their sales teams to hit quota. But, as every revenue leader knows, there are countless variables that go into whether a team will hit the number.
This becomes even more complicated when reps are working remotely some or all of the time. If leaders aren’t sure what their teams are up to, and what tactics they’re using with success, it’s really tough to coach managers, offer projections, and make decisions.
These are nine strategies you can implement tomorrow to motivate your remote sales reps to crush it, even without facetime and meetings in the conference room.
1. Remember that your reps are people.
In competitive work environments with aggressive goals, the temptation is always there to forget that our colleagues are people. This is multiplied tenfold when we don’t see them every day (or ever).
It’s way harder to lead with empathy when our coworkers are avatars on a screen. That’s why we have to do everything in our power to humanize our coworkers.
While studies have shown that keeping webcams on all day is fatiguing, it helps a lot to identify specific meetings (maybe one-on-ones or team meetings) when you request that everyone turns on their cameras. It goes a long way to see people’s faces, for more intimate meetings when relationship building and camaraderie are more likely to take place.
Along the same lines, it’s critical to be okay with children and pets popping in for the occasional cameo. Your salespeople have personal lives, and the more comfortable they are bringing their full selves to work, the more likely they are to connect with your company and want to stick around.
Our consultants work hard to create this sort of rapport and openness with clients; we have even spontaneously hosted regular “talent shows” on team video calls. They have featured folks playing instruments, scaling home climbing walls, and holding up pets whose cuteness is, in and of itself, a talent.
The more leaders can inspire their teams to pursue genuine connections, the more easily you will all collaborate and cut each other slack on the tough days.
2. Find out what they care about, and then care about it too.
As relationships forge or deepen with your team members, you will learn what uniquely motivates each person. Everyone has their own “why,” and creating unique incentives, which speak to a team member’s values, inspires the best performance.
For instance, do you have a manager who is motivated by experiences, like travel? Is it possible to send them on a reward trip, rather than cutting them a bonus check?
Is another team member driven by career advancement? Establishing a clear path to promotion, while awarding unique leadership or learning opportunities, will inspire this person much more than a gym membership.
And then there are other salespeople who are motivated by cash. More traditional bonus structures will be just the ticket to light a fire under these reps.
Or, some of your employees may be motivated by family relationships. Offering additional PTO would motivate these colleagues and make them feel “seen”
The point is that there are countless, unique incentives out there, and you should put in the time to get to know your employees well enough to tailor rewards and recognition that show you care, not only about them, but also about what they care about.
Motivating remote teams is both a collective strategy, considering the broader team’s needs, and an individualized one, focusing on each person’s “why.”
3. Continuously share and receive feedback.
The basis of any quality relationship is open communication. If your employees aren’t comfortable sharing feedback with you (or other leaders and colleagues), and they’re not confident that they’ll receive honest input in response, then they won’t trust you or your company.
It’s also critical to provide an accurate picture of how each employee is performing. In a remote environment, it’s natural to wonder what conversations may be happening behind virtual “closed doors.”
Without knowing where they stand, and how they’re measuring up to expectations, it’s easy for employees to worry unnecessarily. Or, on the other hand, to be blindsided and mistrustful if negative feedback seemingly comes out of nowhere.
That’s why we encourage regular check-ins, when employees expect to receive feedback on their performance, and when supervisors are ready to hear candid thoughts from their direct reports.
This is a perfect example of a meeting when cameras should be on, even if it means talking to each other from messy kitchens with toddlers beating on pots and pans in the background.
Additionally, it’s important to provide more anonymous opportunities for your employees to give input. And it’s even better if that feedback comes from a large group, showing you the true “state of the union.”
That’s when tools like Tiny Pulse (here are other options, too) can be beneficial. They gather anonymous feedback on any question you can think of and aggregate it for easy analysis. Some tools also share rewards and manage other aspects of employee experience.
The bottom line is that it’s critical for leaders to provide avenues for employees to share their honest perspectives of what it’s like to work for your company and what they would change, if given the chance.
When you have those insights at your disposal, and you act on them, it builds trust, retains top talent, and keeps your team engaged. Motivating remote teams depends on this rapport.
4. Be transparent with rewards and recognition for sales teams.
Transparency matters on all teams, but it’s especially critical in remote or hybrid environments. If employees are disbursed, and a colleague unexpectedly gets a bonus or promotion, then you’re setting yourself up for unpleasant office politics (or unhappy Slack channels).
That’s why leaderboards are often an important component of a sales management strategy. Visibly tracking defined goals, and each team member’s progress toward those milestones, promotes healthy competition and makes it very clear who is objectively pulling ahead of the pack.
There are even leaderboard apps out there with built in gamification and integrations with sales execution platforms, Slack, Salesforce, and other common tools in your sales team’s day-to-day environment. Ambition is a great example (here are some other options, too).
Platforms like Ambition also manage clubs, awards, and SPIFF prizes, handling the process of picking winners with objective metrics. This motivates employees to push as hard as they can, knowing office politics won’t determine who gets the prize.
Ambition also goes out of its way to provide opportunities to track team goals and contests, recognize progress, and otherwise call out more than just your top few performers. Everyone who is moving toward their goals will be motivated by seeing their hard work on display.
But if you’re not there today, or won’t be tomorrow, you can also leverage your SEP’s reporting dashboards to display team and individual progress. Outreach.io has compiled a list of ideas leaders can consider building into their SEPs with no additional tools investment.
5. Create opportunities for your team to work together.
We’ve mentioned that leaderboard apps provide opportunities to track team-wide progress. Taking it a step further, we highly encourage revenue leaders to set goals for the entire team, with rewards for everyone when the team “wins.”
For instance, if the entire team hits a weekly goal for revenue, meetings booked, or another milestone, then everyone gets to leave early or have dinner on the company (via a meal delivery service).
Or, you can adopt an increasingly common idea and construct fantasy football for your sales team. While individual people will win the overall competition, that victory depends on everyone else succeeding along the way.
No matter how you structure it, it’s important to offer opportunities for your team to work together. If all of your rewards, contests, and incentives are based on individual competition, then your sales team members are going to be a lot less likely to pull together and create a supportive culture.
Even the most competitive reps need that more than they may know. Sales can be brutal and draining, and it’s a lot easier to take the losses and rejections if you know you can reach out to a colleague for empathy and commiseration.
6. Incentivize activity and performance.
It’s easy for your top reps who’ve been with the company to hit their numbers with less prospecting effort, but you never want any of your salespeople to lose their hustle.
If even your best reps are not consistently prospecting, their pipelines will eventually dry up. It’s a frequent mistake for all salespeople, but especially less experienced SEP users, to do a ton of prospecting at first and then slow down when meetings start coming in. This creates avoidable fluctuations.
That’s why we advocate for offering rewards and recognition for sales teams both for their activity and performance. It’s not all about hitting the number of meetings booked or the revenue goalpost. You should also track (and reward) the reps who are making the most dials, sending the most emails, and putting the most new, qualified prospects into a sequence or cadences.
Your SEP’s activity dashboards will show you this information, all in one place. We coach sales leaders to use this information to their advantage, setting a consistent expectation for each type of activity per week and per month.
Reps should have a clear expectation for the volume and activity they are executing within their SEPs, and hitting those targets should either trigger its own reward or be factored into eligibility for performance-based contests.
7. Fill your SEP with sales messaging that reflects reps’ workflows.
Using an SEP is a great way to promote consistency on your team, even with distributed reps. With approved sequences or cadences, which suit each workflow reps frequently encounter, you never have to wonder what they’re saying to prospects.
Not to mention, your data won’t mean much if everyone is going rogue and doing their own thing. But with volume going through key sales plays, you can track performance, experiment, establish best practices, and eventually designate winning sequences or cadences that will produce a consistent number of conversions.
To get there, though, you have to create quality sales messaging that “sounds” like your sales reps and follow an optimized version of their existing sales workflows. That’s why they should be involved in the creation process, offering ideas, supplying feedback on drafts, and even helping to write the messages.
If your reps log into your SEP, and the sequences or cadences they find look like better versions of what they would already be doing, they will naturally adopt the messages and the platform. They will see quick wins, both in time savings and higher conversions. This success will not only lead to higher engagement but also greater confidence in their roles.
Motivating remote teams is all about providing opportunities for them to feel both plugged in and successful. Your SEP can help you do both.
The best way to ensure that this is happening is to create a sales messaging program, which involves reps in the creation process while also providing necessary quality assurance.
8. Get creative with sales enablement and employee development.
Sales enablement is about a lot more than slide decks, kickoffs, and orientations. Strong enablement functions offer continuous and diverse educational opportunities for all members of the sales org.
If your team has an SEP, then we specifically recommend designating specialists who focus on messaging and technology. Your sales reps should know exactly what sales plays are available, when and why to use them, and how to confidently use the platform.
This requires hands-on, ongoing training and frequent updates on new sales messaging, changes in the platform, and more advanced workflows.
Looking beyond your SEP, your sales enablement function should also make available a wide range of training resources that develop skills like public speaking, negotiating, management, writing, social selling, and other related capabilities.
Today’s employees want to work for companies that are invested in their broader professional development and career growth. In fact, LinkedIn and Glint found that employees are 2.9X more engaged if they see opportunities to learn and grow.
That engagement leads to retention; 94% of employees report that they would stay at their companies longer if their employers invested in their careers.
While this may not be a typical sales enablement function, revenue leaders should make a concerted effort to rally resources–whether from their own budgets or from HR–to invest in employee development.
“Upskilling” your workforce has tangible benefits for you, but it’s also a great way to show your employees that you’re invested in more than your own bottom line.
9. Offer a private Slack channel (or an equivalent) for your reps to vent.
We have heard from reps at many companies that one of the keys to their sanity is a private Slack channel, or another closed-door communication tool, which allows them to chat with fellow reps about tough calls, surprising losses, and grueling days.
Sales is a tough job, and isolation makes it a lot harder. Creating a safe space, where reps can be honest about how much it sucks (without a manager reading over their shoulders), can be a lifeline.
Encouraging them to “burn it down” in a controlled environment is a lot better than allowing unchecked discouragement and frustration to flood out onto social media or to spoil a productive meeting.
And, let’s face it, misery loves company. There’s nothing quite like a good flurry of giphys to turn tension into humor and the isolating feeling of rejection into a shared experience.
Go make it happen.
You might not be able to implement all nine of these strategies tomorrow; you can pick a few to run with immediately. Choose the top three or four which resonate the most with you, and go make it happen.
If you want an expert’s input, then reach out. We’re here not only to share what’s working elsewhere, but also to apply that to your specific context for a winning strategy that brings out the best in your sales team.
Your reps are your most valuable resource; let’s show them some love!