Remote and Distributed Sales

How To Run a Remote and Distributed Sales Team Over Several Continents

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Morning all,

Sat 3 Apr

It’s Easter weekend and unsurprisingly I’m sat down at my desk journaling and wanted to share with you what’s on my mind.

I thought I’d come back to this one because I’m attempting AGAIN to build a sales team consisting of new people.

If you’ve followed my journey throughout my blogs then you’ll know that for the last couple of years Pearl lemon has had a commission-only sales team.

The mainstay, Ion has been here since around the 15th June 2019 – so in 2 months it’ll have been 2 years. Daniel has been here since the 3rd September 2020, which will make it 7 months now. Jude joined October 15th 2020, and in 2 weeks it’ll be 6 months for Jude

Now we have 3 more salespeople that have come into the fold w/Ian (since March 1st 2021), Matthew (since March 25th 2021) and now Thando (Thur 1st April 2021).

Between the 6 of them, the team are spread across England, Northern Ireland, Spain, the USA and South Africa. Everyone is in a different country and we’ve got those with Pearl Lemon being their first-ever sales experience (Daniel) with other folks who’ve been selling over 20 years (Matthew and Ian).

I, myself, it depends how you look at it. I’ve been working for myself since I was 23 years old – so I guess my sales experience started there – which would give me 11 years.

Well ok, not bad then at all!

With all of that being said I’m certainly learning on the job, how to manage all these folks (all working across Pearl Lemon Group businesses), and it’s certainly an exciting challenge.

Admittedly, first of all, I feel pretty cool knowing that we’ve really made the remote only, commission heavy model work.

Multiple people now are on salaries also as they commit much more time than just their calls and nothing else – which is fantastic – and correspondingly my expectations increase also.

But having seen people come and go – I’m no longer afraid of people…coming and going – and have got better at understanding what to look for in new folks, and what questions to ask.

As Pearl Lemon matures, our value proposition and range of products one can sell improve also.

Now I hope everyone I mentioned above sticks with the Pearl Lemon Group and is still with us in another 2 years from now – but it’s too early to say.

I believe Ion will be, but the others need to make enough of an income to cover their expenses and then earn a good living.

Ideally, I’d like to get them all into a position where they’re making £100k each per year – i.e £600k, which means they need to generate 5x their return (i.e £3 million) to support that.

Even at a high level, some things come into mind when I consider this – does my model support that right now?

Selling purely digital marketing services…that means they need to bring in £666k in revenue.

I’m not entirely sure of the path to getting there...but some things are clear –

Our deal sizes keep going up, we’re beginning to have people pay for several months upfront and we’re introducing new products (PR) which come in at a higher budget than the rest.

So we’re headed in the right direction.

With the other products being sold – Plant Sumo, Pearl Lemon Properties and Kemistri – we’re still at early stages and it remains to be seen how these deals will unfold.

Anyway – I decided to take a look at various other blogs and see what they mention when it comes to running a sales team effectively – and I’ll pick out JUST the things I agree/believe in.

Let’s go:

One on one coaching

Coaching

This has definitely been important for helping Daniel, my least experienced guy improve his sales skills. However, it’s also important for some of the more experienced folks to improve their product knowledge.

So one-on-one coaching has a place for those with less experience, but for the other guys – one-to-many can work well.

This will be the case where you’re on a call together going thorough as many technical details of the product as possible to ensure everyone has an up to date understanding of the product as possible.

Encourage Continued Learning

Continued Learning

Continued learning has two prongs – one from the perspective of product knowledge and then the general sharpening of one’s sales skills. I think both are equally important.

However, in truth, I’m not sure how many people I meet are dedicated to the continued journey of professional development – at least proactively so!

So it’s worth keeping in mind that ‘on-the-job’ training for the most part is the kind of learning that most engage in. If you have someone who does their own independent learning – that’s a massive bonus – which you can at least encourage.

Streamline the Sales Process

Sales Process

Making the sales and reporting process as smooth as possible has been a big thing for us. Anytime I tried to get the guys to use a CRM – it has basically failed.

The implementation of a CRM is onerous and cumbersome and no one really ends up using the thing.

I actually found one chap who really enjoyed using his CRM, and to a degree, all of the sales team do use CRMs – but their own version of one.

And with it being a remote team it’s difficult to get everyone to work on a centrally managed CRM.

But nonetheless making some kind of central CRM – even if it’s just a Google sheet – can become powerful data you can work with.

Establish a Good Company Culture

Good Company Culture

The sales team you have needs to enjoy working and chasing the sale within your organisation.

That means fun, that means ambition, and that also means powerful support and powerful leadership.

Having a team that enjoys sharing victories and dialogue and supports each other is a difficult thing to do when remote.

But trying to build this is important.

Understand Your Sales Team’s Differences

Sales Team’s Differences

I’ve got several different personalities within my team, and being mindful of this is important.

We’ve got those who love to keep in touch throughout the day, some I’ll never hear from as much and wonder if they’re still working. Others who keep detailed CRMs and those who just work off of what’s in their email and nothing more.

Basically, everyone has different ways of working.

And this is a reality unless you train up a junior salesperson from scratch. They’re going to come in with systems and methods of working that will be very hard to change.

So if you’ve bought in experienced hires – give them room to work in a manner that most powerfully suits them!

Inspire Your Team

Inspire Your Team

If you’re running a sales team – being able to inspire them is critical. The way that you can do this is (in my opinion) through the promise of the future – what is it that awaits them if they stick to this path they’re on with you?

In the instance of Pearl Lemon – what I use as inspiration is the direction we’re heading in –

Across the board, within all businesses, I’m doing what I can to demonstrate the growth of all the brands.

This is via blogs, new pages, more SEO and ultimately supporting the sales team with all of their requests so they have every opportunity to close new business

Drive Competition

Competition

This is something that I think I don’t do enough necessarily. When you’re not in the same room, are working in different time zones or across different businesses then it’s difficult to truly compare.

We have sales guys for Pearl Lemon, Plant Sumo, Pearl Lemon Properties and now Omnireach and Serpwizz. That’s 5 different brands being worked upon which does make it difficult to compare….

But naturally when sales come in – then people to compare – and the more public they are the more you’ll see what your team are made of!

Help Them Help Each Other

Help Them

Whatsapp is a powerful tool for our remote sales team – one of the first things we’ll do is connect some of the most experienced salespeople with some of the newer team members – so that they can support each other with the sales process.

I know that this has become a huge benefit to our sales team in being able to work together and ultimately rely less upon me to see success.

Pay Attention to Seemingly Small Issues

There are actually many many of these that when compounded equal big differences.

I’ll give you an example –

The team knowing how to record calls using Whereby is a small thing that makes a big difference because I’m then able to listen to recorded calls and give vital feedback.

Furthermore, Ion just yesterday was telling me that the meeting book link was invalid for some reason because of a bug in the calendar setup.

However, upon investigation, I discovered several other problems with the follow-up booking system that I was able to tweak with proper messaging and all.

Give The Team Individual Feedback

Individual Feedback

This I do via listening to recorded calls every month or so where I will go through a previous call recording and offer my team feedback.

In combination with this – I’ll give regular and positive feedback usually on a daily basis as it’s critical to a sales person’s psyche to be told they’re doing well

Trust But Verify

Trust But Verify

This is the challenge of working with a sales team – that of course it’s in their nature to paint a rosy picture of anything.

Including how they’re doing!

So it’s important to be able to have some mechanism in place to be able to cross-verify their results/reports.

At Pearl Lemon, I’ll ask the team to keep a CRM which I’ll sporadically check on. Then there’s also recorded calls which some of the team do and some don’t.

When everything is totally remote it’s difficult to know the full extent of what’s happening.

Already just thinking about this had made me realise I should have everyone on our company dialer so that all calls can be recorded and that the company can have all of that data

Get Out Of Their Way

Get Out Of Their Way

With all of the above being said – it’s important to just let sales team’s do what they already have been trained to do.

Especially if you’ve got an experienced sales team – you must just do a large degree let them use the process that’s been working for the last several years before they started with your team

Give Them 6 Months

6 Months

This is the standard length of time you want to give someone to see what sales they bring in.

In the end, you’ll want to review sales figures after 6-months on the job to get an understanding of where this person’s at.

Depending upon how well they do, allow them a further 3 months before you mutually make a decision as to whether this is working or not.

Train Them On The Product

Train Them

I’ve done this badly. Given my team proper product training. I’ve realised this only recently after listening to some of the sales calls and recognising that they don’t have enough product knowledge to talk about the process in depth.

This is one of the main differentiators I think that limit them from closing as many deals as I do – because naturally, I know the product best.

So the more you can educate them here – the better ultimately your team will do.

Do Their Prospecting For Them

Prospecting

This is something that every business should be doing. The initial prospecting is pretty much automated. From LinkedIn/cold email outreach to getting sales qualified leads fed through to your sales team.

There’s really no need to ask any sales professional to build their own pipeline.

It’s very easy to build LinkedIn 3-5 step outreach and send 100 emails per day on their behalf – and within a week you’ve got a pipeline.

Do this as standard for any salesperson you bring in.

It’ll only help them succeed

Appreciate their goals and needs

Goals and Needs

This is critical as all of your sales team are on their individual journeys. For my team, I know that Ion has his young children and is after lifestyle design.

Matthew is looking for something he can really get his teeth into.

Ian is looking for long-term involvement in a business he’s passionate about and isn’t in need of money short-term – he’s here for the long game.

Jude wants to replace his current income and also wants lifestyle design.

Daniel is young and is really after the experience.

So being mindful of what each of your team want is important.

Be transparent with them

Be Transparent

Honesty is huge. Honesty about where you’re at, what you’re trying to do and what the plan is.

This will get you nothing but respect for your team – and correspondingly it’ll keep them honest and open with you as well –

So I’d highly recommend you tell them all about what’s happening, why you’re doing what you’re doing and what the plans are.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Running a successful sales team is definitely a challenge that I’m learning about as I go.

But it’s an incredible feeling to have a team spread across all four corners of the globe working towards your joint success.

And hopefully, some of the points mentioned above will help you on your team’s journey.

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