How to Manage a Remote Sales Team
Remote work is the future. We at BidClips, being engaged in the home, business, and automotive service industries, know many of you are trying to adopt this new way of thinking. Since we have been operating remotely for nearly 10 years, we would like to share with you some of the tools and strategies we have used along the way.
Motivations to have a remote team
You may already have your own motivations for moving all or part of your team to working remotely. Others to consider are:
– Improving productivity by cutting down on distractions
– Attracting talent irrespective of location
– Saving money on office space as you grow
– Enabling you to work on your business without going to the office
You’re committed. What’s next?
1. Make a plan
Make a plan for who will work remotely and a list of the softwares you will have to implement to get off and rolling day one when you make the switch. We’ve compiled a list of software below that we use consistently to drive our team forward.
2. Make sure your team has rock-solid internet
Ask team members going to work remotely about their internet connection. Working over wifi can be unpredictable, and if you’ve tasked them with taking calls or working in programs that require solid connections this will have to be addressed. Have each remote team member run a speed test on a site like fast.com and have them send you their results.
If you’re having trouble, and your worker is expected to work with customers over the phone, reach out to your VOIP provider to see if they can help you analyze your team member’s setup or check out this article for some steps you can take. Also, if all else fails, a hardwired connection to their router using an ethernet cable and usb-ethernet adapter is the best way to make the most of any internet connection.
3. Get to know the tools you are going to use
We’re going to touch on each of the tools that we at BidClips use and some highlights of how they will benefit you in setting up a killer remote team. Go deeper with any of them and you’ll find there’s even more than what we’re surfacing here.
Cloud-Based Drive, Docs & Sheets (Google’s G-Suite)
The G-Suite is Google’s suite of apps including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, & Google Drive. You are probably either using or have used several of them at one time. They allow you to not live or die by your laptop’s hard drive as all files stay in the cloud. Use it all for free if you don’t mind having your email read something like email@example.com. If you want to upgrade, you can get your own domain and be off and rolling with all of the software and a next-level email like firstname.lastname@example.org. Take your pick!
What will it do for a remote team?
Google Drive allows you to set up a company-wide filing system and control who can or see or access specific files, anytime. You can specify read-only permissions for those on your team who just need to see but not touch, and edit permissions for those who you want to work on documents alongside you. Google Docs brings word processing into the cloud and things like memos or procedural documents can easily be shared and collaborated on with your entire team. Google Sheets is great for things like a shared part notes, inventory, or pricing and extremely useful tools can be stood up for your team with a little can-do spirit.
How can I best use Google’s G-Suite?
– Organize and share files without worrying about backing up
– Collaborate on word documents or spreadsheets in real time
– Keep living documents like onboarding procedures or marketing materials
– Stand up pricing sheets, part notes, and more with Google Sheets.
Workplace Messaging (Slack or Glip)
Remember AOL or MSN instant messenger? Well Slack and Glip are what would happen if those instant messaging platforms went on to attend Harvard Business School and got serious about making your company more efficient. Slack gives your company the ability to have everything from the break room – oh hey Mike! – banter to the one-on-one operations-critical conversations without getting up from your chair. It also affords your staff valuable moments to respond so they can stay productive with the task at hand.
Who do I need using messaging?
Get your whole office into Slack, not just your remote employees. Heck, you can invite clients and You’ll see amazing things start to happen once you have the buy-in of everyone. When it comes to creating business chat rooms, or channels, we recommend making at least one channel dedicated to each of the following categories:
– Project / big client specific channels (invite your client to the channel if the work is collaborative)
– Important Announcements (Let your voice be heard here and hold your team accountable to staying up-to-date)
– General Business (everyone can talk here about what they’re seeing on the ground)
– For Fun (ours is called #trashtalkandfuntimes)
Video Conferencing (Zoom)
Easy. Virtual. Meetings.
Zoom took the awkward step of getting everyone into a virtual meeting and simplified it. Now virtual meeting set-up times are near zero. Having the Zoom app isn’t necessary either and anyone who can’t join with their camera can still dial-in to hear the audio.
We rely on Zoom daily to check-in, share ideas, and be together. Our best culture pieces are our leadership meetings and “Tribal Gatherings” which bring in our whole team (sometimes special guests) and allow everyone to see each other, catch up, and go over key business items.
Recurring meetings eliminate the confusion on when and where you’re going to meet. Take it to the next-level with all-day meeting rooms so your team members know where they can rally with questions for one another throughout the day.
– Bring your whole team together, easily
– Share screens and computer sound for trouble-shooting and collaboration
– Open virtual conference rooms for team members to access intermittently
– Give presentations and record them for sharing later
VoIP Phone Systems (Clarity & CallRail)
Using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) gives a distinct advantage to remote teams because you can get creative with your routing while keeping your fingers on the pulse of where your calls are going. Many VoIP systems will come with a softphone which means your remote team members can answer calls directly from their computer with a good headset.
Though we currently use Twilio because they give you the tools to code your own phone system, Clarity is who we used for years before and who we would recommend. Clarity’s service is unmatched and they constantly have a team standing by to answer your questions and achieve the routing you are looking for. This can be a fresh drink of water as I’ve seen owners sink hours into trying to route their own system because they just don’t want to reach out to their phone provider’s unhelpful support.
CallRail is an advanced auto attendant system that you can place anywhere in your system to qualify customers by things like their ZIP codes and send them to different numbers based on their responses. This works extremely well if you are trying to encourage in-shop work for certain areas, but will still send your technicians out to others. It can also pre-screen callers and give them tailored messages based on the caller’s input so that you save your team’s time of not having to explain the same thing to every caller.
Clarity & CallRail VoIP Benefits
– Clarity offers unmatched support saving you time and money
– Stay on top of your calls and where they’re going
– Get creative with your routing and messaging to make your team more efficient
Project Management Software (Trello)
Hey, did you ever do that thing with the thing I asked you about?
Project management tools are great for your projects that exist outside of the daily tasks like customer service and dispatching technicians. Consider a project management tool, even if just for yourself, to stay on top of where you are with larger company initiatives.
We use Trello as our repository for idea dumping, assigning of tasks to other management, and organization of all of the “We should really do that” thoughts we have. This is another piece of software that has a generous free offering where you can add multiple members of your team and watch as tasks go from “working on it” to “done” all in a clean user interface.
Project Management Software Benefits
– Track projects you have assigned to your team
– Organize your own business initiatives
– Create a repository for game changing ideas
Scheduling & Payroll Management (Homebase)
I’m just going to set up the team’s sch- *three days pass*…
Managing schedules can be tedious regardless of whether you have a remote team or not. Luckily companies have seized on this pain point as well developing great looking web applications like Homebase. These types of applications give you a lot in the way of easily publishing a schedule that your whole team can either agree to or file a complaint about (hint: the file for those is called the bin in England).
You can easily duplicate whole weeks of scheduled hours so you aren’t starting from square one every week and you can also move shifts from one person to another by simply dragging it to the other employee. Oh, and you don’t have to tell anyone that the schedule is up because your entire team is notified as soon as you publish a schedule.
Schedule Management Software Benefits
– Easily viewable upcoming schedules, from anywhere
– Automatic team notification when a new schedule is published
– Copy days/weeks/months of historic schedules for new schedules
– Move shifts between team members with a click and drag
– Go pro with features like clocking-in and timecard records
Password Manager (Lastpass)
Wrong password. Click forgot password to…
Wrong password scenarios interrupt your day like a car driving through the front of your business. It demands attention because you can’t do anything until you get that car out of your waiting area. Now, if you have a remote team member who shares an account login with you, not only can you both forget the password, they have the power to change the password right out from under you.
To take back control, and share logins privileges without spilling your password, companies have developed virtual password vaults. We use LastPass, but there are many viable options out there.
Password Manager Benefits
– View all of your passwords in one vault
– Share specific login authorization with your team without sharing the passwords themselves
– Stay in control of all of your accounts and who has access to them at any given time
Sales Platform (BidClips)
Last, and certainly the best! 🙂
BidClips is a sales enablement tool for the home and automotive services industry. It offers a host of features that help your team work remotely while still being on the same page with the rest of your operation. A history of communication with the customer and other team members is localized to each individual service request, and cleanly organized. Tasks are visible to everyone and can be tied to multiple steps of the sales process promoting accountability. Individual and team KPIs are updated in real-time bringing numbers into focus. Automated tasks and notifications (including emails) go to key team members so no customer falls through the cracks.
BidClips is in the cloud so it’s easily accessed from any computer, any time. BidClips’ pricing also grows with your operation and doesn’t charge you by number of users. Ring! Ring! Is that a brighter future calling? Yes, yes it is.
BidClips Benefits for Remote Teams
– Organized leads with customer and internal conversations attached
– Transparent sales task management raises accountability
– Real-time KPIs by team member
– Automated tasks and notifications (including emails) to the team member who needs it
Our wish for you
We hope you enjoyed this overview of getting a remote team started. If you are interested in BidClips, please visit our home page at www.bidclips.com to book a friendly tour or check us out on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. We’d love to meet you! Instead of a summary we landed on a “Too long; didn’t read (TL;DR)” below. Please share and comment below.
- Remote work is the future. Start moving in that direction and you’ll encounter many efficiency boosting tools along the way.
- There are many tools for remote teams. We use Google’s G-Suite, Slack, Zoom, Homebase, Trello, LastPass and BidClips (our sales and customer service team, Service Station, uses BidClips daily to assist shops across the country).
- Google’s G-Suite, Slack, and Zoom (or similar softwares) are essential to running a remote team.
- BidClips gives your whole team organized leads, KPIs on each team member, transparent task lists for accountability and does not charge for additional users.
- Remote work culture is galvanized by having video meetings with everyone and getting creative to make everyone know they are a valued part of the team.
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How to manage remote sales teams