A huge part of sales team motivation comes from a sense of togetherness and camaraderie within the team. Banter in the office and buoying one another are scenes from a regular day at work.

A lot has changed in the last year, with the Covid-19 pandemic taking the world by storm. Millions of working professionals around the world were faced with a new reality, ‘Work from Home’. Sales teams were not spared either. The entire working structure of the salesforce had flipped over. Many embraced the change but for many others the change was unsettling.

Several companies, uncertain about their future, put big orders and deals on hold. In some sectors, staff were laid off and businesses closed down. Some brick-and-mortar stores took their businesses online to improve their revenue.

According to a report shared by Hubspot, remote workers are faced with overworking and feelings of loneliness almost on a daily basis.

Having said that, did you know that sales teams across the world were among the most affected by the pandemic and the whole work from home scenario?

Their jobs are tough enough the way it is – having to meet sales targets, and generate revenue to ensure the company is scaling new heights. 

With the pandemic, your teams are faced with many issues that have a direct impact on them as well as your company.

In this post, we will take you through: 

  • The impact of remote work on sales teams
  • The secret sauce to effectively manage sales reps who work remotely
  • Tips on how sales reps can improve their productivity while working from home

Let’s get straight to it.

How has remote work impacted the salesforce? 

Owing to the pandemic, many companies were forced to embrace the remote work culture and for some of them, the transition is here to stay, at least for the time being. As we eagerly await to see what the post-Covid-19 workplace will look like, we foresee a shift in how organizations view the “office”.

Off late, sales teams have been using tools such as Zoom to make calls and conduct face-to-face meetings to build relationships with prospective clients or interact with colleagues. 

Here are a few ways in which the remote work structure has impacted sales teams during the pandemic:

a)  Not everyone can adapt to change the same way

Working from home was seen as an immediate solution to ensure your business keeps running despite the Covid-19 outbreak. 

For some, the remote work structure is not new, but for many who weren’t accustomed to this model, it was challenging.

While working from home was required for keeping employees safe, it has affected the mental well-being of those whose work involves face-to-face interactions. 

As social creatures, people need to see and communicate with one another. Salespeople who work day in and out handling client interactions were instantly thrust into an environment where they had very little contact with both clients and colleagues, causing their motivation levels to drop and affecting their performance.

Stay in touch with your team wherever they are, set up calls on Zoom or Google Hangouts to share updates. Check on them from time to time. This will motivate your team and uplift their spirits to perform despite the changing work environment. 

b) The need to learn and use new technologies 

In the new work from home scenario, companies have had to bear additional costs arising from the implementation of new tools and technologies which were necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of their operations.

Salespeople had to learn to use these technologies to connect with clients, meet their sales targets and generate more revenue. 

For many, learning to use a new software or tool was stressful and time-consuming. However, it was something that they could not put away. 

Sales teams had to get familiar with software and tools for desktop sharing and video conferencing,  hosting events and webinars, creating presentations to capture new clients, and much more.

 Many who had not used these tools found it challenging to learn them in a short period of time.

c) Lower Levels of Motivation

No doubt a motivated sales team is essential to the success of any business. 

During the lockdown, sales teams found themselves lacking motivation.

A study has revealed that motivation levels had sharply declined during the pandemic with employees under the age of 40 experiencing a decline of 45%, while workers over 40 suffered a 14% decline in motivation.

If your sales teams lack the motivation to complete tasks, they are bound to feel pressured when the workload increases. This will impact productivity and decrease sales. 

d) Declining Sales Opportunities 

During the pandemic, sales reps were faced with an unexpected reality where sales opportunities decreased.

On-going deals were dropped due to clients’ budget constraints, consumers were wary of unnecessary spending and were cautious when it came to purchasing. 

Sales teams had fewer opportunities that they could convert to sales. 

e) An Uncertain Future

The pandemic has affected businesses across industries. Employees were faced with unexpected pay cuts and layoffs. No one knows when things will get back to normal and this leaves employees including those in the sales industry feeling uncertain about the future. 

Inclusive Leadership – The secret sauce to effectively manage sales reps who work remotely

To ensure that the team works from home in an effective manner and furthermore to manage new expectations, certain leadership measures are required. Leaders should be able to connect one-on-one with each of their team members so that they can guide them and expect positive results from them. Simple yet often overlooked factors like system security, access to software, processes, and assigning key people who look into specific processes and issues will help while working remotely.

It is also imperative to look into the company policies once again to ensure they are conducive to the new working environment. This will instill confidence in the staff and help them to maintain a positive attitude.

Leaders may have to re-look at the targets that are already set and make sure that they are realistic in the current scenario. An impossible-looking target will only end up demotivating the sales team instead of pushing them to do more. 

In the current scenario, it may be a good idea to focus more on building client relationships than concentrate solely on revenue.

Another important factor when working remotely is communication. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, a lot may be lost in translation. Leaders can arrange video calls between sales teams at least twice a week. They can also set up a communication modus operandi for communication between team members so that all of them remain on the same page and work is streamlined.

It pays to know more about the personal life of each team member in order to understand them better. Things like their household responsibilities, family situation, work hours, etc should be considered so that leaders can help them maintain a good work-life balance.

Here are a few practices that leaders can adopt to keep the team motivated and productive:

  • Appreciate Them for Their Deeds

There is nothing worse than a thankless job. Timely appreciation on the other hand is a sure shot way to keep the spirits high. In a work from home situation, there is little scope for public recognition. Therefore it is important to recognize their efforts at a personal level.

  • Don’t Make it All About the Revenue

Not every day draws in revenue in equal measure. There are some bad days and good days. That said, a low revenue day doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad sales day. The sales team’s effort today could very well pay off later.

  • Manage Expectations 

As mentioned before, sales quotas may have to be reset based on the current scenario, to what is realistically achievable. Most people start worrying about their jobs when the numbers seem to be dropping. A worried and insecure salesman is the last thing you want on your team.

  • Let The Teams Bond

Friendly interactions among teammates lead to better working relationships as do lunch hours, birthday celebrations, and after-work meetups. This can be replaced by virtual non-work meets, coffee-over con-calls, etc. 

Tips on how sales reps can improve their productivity while working from home

By now it’s evident that working from home is quite a challenge to many. You work out of your personal space where distractions are plenty, making it tough for you to focus on the work at hand. 

Your folks may be around, you may have chores to do, calls to attend, and a pile of work to complete, all in a day. You may also find yourself putting in extra hours to complete all the tasks that you have to get done for a day.

According to a study, remote workers who work full time, work an additional 26 hours in a month, and that’s a little more than a day that’s adding to your monthly output. As the number of work hours increases, stress levels tend to rise proportionately.

A survey conducted on stress levels of remote workers revealed that a staggering 91% of employees who worked from home dealt with moderate to extreme levels of stress.

People who work from home have to define their work hours, decide where they want to work from and what office equipment to use, and be able to strike a healthy balance between work and personal life. 

We have put together a list of work from home productivity tips to help sales reps stay motivated and on top of their games.

1) Follow a Routine

Working from home offers you a more flexible structure to your day as opposed to heading to and working from the traditional office space. 

It’s important to have a routine in place which will help you stay positive, keep your motivation levels high and increase productivity. 

Plan out our day in advance scheduling all the tasks that you wish to complete and your break times for breakfast and lunch. 

2) Have a Designated Workspace 

One of the biggest challenges that remote employees face when working from home is keeping themselves away from distractions.

Having a designated workspace for yourself that’s quiet and stress-free will allow you to concentrate entirely on the work at hand.

You will be spending a good part of your day in this space so it’s important to be in a place that’s comfortable, peaceful, and free from any distractions.  

3) Take Breaks in Between 

Set aside at least 5 minutes between tasks to get away from your desk and refresh. 

Breaks are important to avoid burnout from overworking. The freedom to step aside from work to reset and reflect during your day will improve your focus and help you stay productive. 

4) Manage Your Time Well

Incorporate some time management techniques that can help you keep track of how much time you spend on each task. 

The Pomodoro technique is one that millions of workers swear by, where work is broken down into short intervals which are usually 25 minutes long. After each interval, a 5-minute break is taken. After 4 such cycles, a longer break of 15-30 minutes is taken. This technique is useful when you have a lot of repetitive tasks to do.

5) Schedule Virtual Meetings with teammates

Use a videoconferencing platform to schedule face time with teammates, at least twice a week. This can help you and your teammates plan and collaborate effectively. It also helps you stay connected and keep feelings of isolation away.

Summing it up

The future of work still remains uncertain. Whether you continue to work remotely or get back to working in offices, make sure your sales team is prepared to lead engaging sales conversations and can justify proposals to risk-averse clients, despite the current scenario. 

Though it is no easy task for an entire team to work remotely and coordinate at the same time, with careful planning and execution it is still possible to overcome the hurdles and grow together as a group.

Posted in Mok