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Tips From A Sales Leader Who Was Remote Pre-Covid

When I started working at Hive in January, I was splitting my time between San Diego and New York City. I was the vice president of sales leading a team of 13 people–most of which had to be done remotely. Starting at a new job, and one in which you lead a team, is especially challenging when you’re doing it all via a screen. 

I’m big on structure and processes, so I quickly developed a set of best-practices that I honed as Hive’s new sales leader. It just so happened that shortly after I started my new job the COVID-19 pandemic struck, resulting in the widespread move to remote work. While other teams took months to get acclimated to the new way of working from home, my team was already moving at a fast pace, in part because I’d already developed a set of principles for remote leadership and had been applying them since the start of 2020. 

Hive as a whole benefited from this. I was able to quickly disseminate the information I’d gathered and distill it down into three key principles: communicate clearly (no one can read minds), have empathy for your team (we’re all human), and develop repeatable processes. If you have those three things, you’re set up for success.

Within each of those buckets, I’ve outlined a few key tips that I believe strongly in, and am confident these will enable remote work success for any sales team.
 

Clear Communication

1. Enact daily stand-ups that are quick, direct and don’t waste time.

Get your sales reps in the habit of offering 90-120 seconds on their commitments for the day, including activities and goals. Also open the floor for sharing personal information–learn how the team’s day, week or weekends have been going, and if they had any outside-of-work findings. Another thing Hive developed is the implementation of User Manuals, a set of questions every new employee must answer when they join the company. Everyone’s answers are compiled into a huge document for people to read–invaluable insights when you work remotely, as there is often limited facetime and a need to consolidate communication.

2. Reinforce excitement and engagement through rewards, comp plans and KPI achievements that mirror company goals.

The more the team is “properly behaving” and doing the right things, the more opportunity there is “to perform” better as a company. This is especially important when you’re remote, as it’s good to build culture and motivate your team with rewards, money and macro-level goals. At Hive, we distribute KPIs throughout the company, which we revisit on a monthly basis. Each KPI is broken down into more detailed subactions within Hive itself, as Hive is a project management tool. When you’re working remotely, it’s especially important to refresh goals monthly; it’s imperative to stay on top of big-picture communication.
 

Empathy for Your Team

1. Make sure to check in with individual team members and build relationships.

It’s tough when you’re operating solely remote, but spending time 1:1 getting to know your reps will get them to trust you and work harder for you. Learn how each rep works best and cultivate a relationship in which you enable that. This also goes back to the implementation of the User Manuals I mentioned earlier. Everyone is different, works different, and has different strengths. Pay attention.

2. Allocate responsibility among team members.

The group needs to feel like more than just individual contributors, that they are actually laying the groundwork to achieve a greater goal. Assign mentors and projects that allow your team to work together collaboratively. When remote, this sense of collaboration and teamwork is even more paramount. I’ve found that breaking the team out into smaller pods is also helpful for team-building, as it forms bonds on a smaller scale with tasks that are easier to accomplish. There’s something to be said for the instant satisfaction of checking off a task you’ve worked on with one or two teammates.
 

Repeatable Processes

1. A clean Salesforce with a dashboard that allows you to gather all the intel you need remotely.

Checking in via Slack about pipeline or deals isn’t very effective, and doesn’t help generate revenue. Having a strong infrastructure operationally is essential to keep things moving. I’d say it’s 2 times more important now that we’re remote. We can’t swing by someone’s desk or overhear about new deals, so we need to proactively share information in a public place where it can be parsed and studied. Salesforce also connects to the other tools we use, specifically Hive, where we can see deals won data. This provides insight into the sales cycle and lets the whole company celebrate together. We recently installed an app called a “Gong Bot” too, which basically posts a big virtual congratulations when a deal is closed. It’s great.

2. Plan regular team events on a recurring basis.

Get your team in the mindset of collaboration, even if it’s outside of the office. Make sure to organize team events–not just happy hour–some sort of event where prizes are awarded, regularly. Sales people care about incentives in everything they do. It’s been fun to get creative with remote events, and putting in the effort for the whole team makes everyone feel valued. Something we’ve been loving is virtual trivia, specifically with the app Jackbox. We’re all super competitive, so it’s fun to battle it out over silly trivia questions.

 

This is by no means an extensive list of ways to work remotely, but in my experience, I’ve found that these tips worked well when I had to quickly step into a leadership role from afar. 

If you remember anything from this article, remember CEP: communication, empathy and processes. They’ll get you far.