The growing mobile workforce is a new challenge for sales performance management (SPM) professionals. Instead of staff staying in-house, workers are being sent around the globe to meet with current clients and prospective buyers. Some vendors have branched out from their headquarters and created satellite offices to access the best talent and be closer to potential customers.
Virtual sales teams are much more difficult to manage than their traditional counterparts. Even with state-of-the-art technology, supervisors cannot closely monitor remote representatives. Mobile SPM hinges on trustworthy agents, clear company objectives and reliable communication systems – the three resources that ensure managers can effectively lead their virtual teams.
The importance of trust
Team members gradually learn to trust each other through sales on-boarding and consistent production. However, relationships are more difficult to develop when supervisors and employees are in two separate locations. Karen Sobel Lojeski, a technology professor at Stony Brook University, believes that technology makes it difficult for managers to treat their staffs with respect.
“Remember that there’s a human being on the other side of the line,” Lojeski told Inc. Magazine. “You need to work on establishing affinity and building a relationship that can be trusted.”
Inc. Magazine writes that teams should interact as if they were in the same office. Managers should actively seek feedback from agents to foster unity. Consistent communication promotes cohesion between far-flung salespeople.
Sales agents require clear objectives so they know what ends they should be working toward. For instance, an expanding company should instruct representatives to focus on lead generation, while another vendor actively promotes recurring business.
Objectives are doubly important for virtual sales teams. Managers do not have a great deal of oversight when it comes to their remote staff members. Clear goals ensure that the entire team is on the same page. Sales incentives should be offered to keep the virtual workforce striving toward the same benchmarks. Agents may stray from their company’s objectives without proper motivation.
Reliable communication systems
Remote workers should be able to contact their managers at all times. Companies should create virtual phone systems and implement video conferencing software to streamline communication between headquarters and salespeople. Regular web meetings should be held to prevent small issues from becoming large challenges.
Additionally, SPM software allows managers to monitor sales figures from remote representatives. Mobile applications from companies like Synygy and Xactly provide real-time updates so that upper-level executives know how successful their virtual strategies are.