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How to build a virtual sales team

Building a top-notch virtual sales team can be difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. It requires finding ways to keep your team motivated, focused, happy and productive.  That starts with understanding each member’s working style.

Understand each team member’s working style

Not everyone’s approach or personality is the same, which is why it's crucial for you to get a sense of what makes each rep tick. Some prefer a more collaborative environment, while others thrive on working alone. Some are morning people, while others like waking up later in the day. 

These things may seem obvious, but they can have an impact on how your team will function together, so try not to overlook any details that could make or break their performance.

Find out: Who likes working from home? What time do they like starting their day? Do they take breaks at certain times during the day and if so what do they do during those breaks (or even better maybe they don't need breaks)? Do these habits vary depending on their role within our company? How does each person prefer communicating  — video vs. email vs. Slack vs. phone calls vs face-to-face meetings. Whatever their preferences, informal communication and real-time coaching should be part of every rep’s schedule. 

Create a training plan, with clear milestones

A training plan is one of the most important things you can do to help your virtual sales team succeed. The plan should be based on the needs of your reps, and should be designed to help them reach their goals. This could mean teaching them how to use different tools, or teaching them how to work with metrics.

To start, create a list of all the things that each rep needs in order to succeed: what they need from their computer setup, how they'll access information about accounts and customers, etc.—basically everything that goes into making a virtual salesperson productive (and happy). From there you can draft a comprehensive training outline for each rep's specific needs. 

For example: If you find that your newest reps need to spend more time learning about Salesforce than your veterans do, devote more time during training sessions to using Salesforce effectively.

Provide the right tools

Once you've built a team, it's time to provide them with excellent tools that are easy-to-use, easy-to-update and customizable. If a rep has trouble using or updating a tool, then it can be very demotivating for them and for others who may use it as well.

For example: You should have a platform where all of your reps can access all of their reports in one place—a central hub that’s easy for everyone from executives down through frontline employees—so everyone has all of the information they need at their fingertips at any given time (and no one is left behind).

Outbound sales tools abound, so there are plenty to choose from. Some widely used ones for sales enablement, productivity, dialing, prospecting, scheduling, researching and training include: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Bloobirds, ClickUp, Predictable Revenue and Teamflow — which offers a virtual sales floor where reps can call and learn together.

Figure out how to work with the metrics

How do you motivate your reps? By using metrics. How do you track progress? By using metrics. How do you measure success? By using metrics. How do you ensure that everyone on your team is getting the most out of their potential, while doing enough to feel like they're being productive without burning out? Metrics! You can't really go wrong with this one: if there's a metric that tracks something important for both parties (you and the rep), use it. 

Some examples of useful metrics include: 

  • Number of meetings completed per week/month/quarter
  • Number of minutes spent in meetings per week/month/quarter
  • Average time between meetings (in minutes)
  • Number of emails sent per day

Build outcomes into your metrics

The next step is to build metrics into your process. This means building clear, simple and easy-to-understand targets that can be measured, with a target that is attainable. The best way to do this is by focusing on outcomes rather than outputs—in other words, what do you want from the team member?

Let’s say you're a marketing manager at an e-commerce company selling handbags online. Your target might be “number of people who buy a bag.” To measure it you could use Google Analytics: if someone clicks through from one of your ads or social media posts and then buys something within 24 hours, they count towards your outcome number. 

Then calculate how many sales per month are needed to hit this goal. Set up some milestones along the way so that everyone knows what level of performance they need each week/month/quarter in order for the company to achieve its goals.

Allow for collaboration and spur creativity

It’s especially important that remote team leaders set the tone and make sure that teammates are comfortable with each other. By doing so, they’re likely to see higher productivity and more innovation among your crew.

Encourage introverts as well as extroverts

Extroverts as well as introverts will need some alone time to think through problems or complete tasks at their own pace. When hiring both personality types into the same role, make sure they both know how much collaboration is expected of them on any given task—without making either feel uncomfortable about their differences.

Make sure you have a strong onboarding platform

The onboarding platform is the most important part of your virtual sales team. It provides new reps with a solid foundation for success, and it should be used as a tool to help them hit quota early.

The best onboarding platforms include:

  • Checklists on the account overview page that guide reps through the process of setting up their new account(s) and creating their first lead or sale. This ensures that they get off on the right foot.
  • A robust training module where employees can learn about their specific industry through videos, webinars, articles and more—and then apply that knowledge to actual accounts so they feel like they're making progress in their jobs from day one (which keeps them engaged).

If you want to build a great virtual sales team, it’s most important to ensure that everyone understands the importance of teamwork and collaboration. If those things aren’t in place, the best sales tools in the world can’t make up for them. As long as you have an effective communication strategy, your team can work together far more effectively, efficiently and — not least of all! — enjoyably.