5 Strategies for Managing a Remote Sales Team

5 Strategies for Managing Remote Sales Teams

Despite many organizations mandating employees return to the office, only one-third of sales professionals work in the office full time, with the remaining two-thirds either fully remote or on a hybrid model.

While a remote/hybrid work environment is preferred among most employees, it poses challenges for managers. Leading a team of 150 remote workers, I’ve faced many of these challenges, like figuring out how to ensure accountability, build a strong team environment and maintain communication. Here are five strategies I’ve implemented to overcome these obstacles.

Hold Regular Check-Ins

Strong communication should be a top priority for any manager, but it’s especially important for remote teams. Holding regular check-ins with your team members helps establish a routine and ensures regular communication. During these meetings, be sure to ask open-ended questions and listen closely to understand your team members’ concerns and accomplishments. These meetings are a great time to set and review goals, provide constructive feedback and recognition, and see where employees are stuck and how you can help them.

I also hold quarterly town halls for my customer success team and issue an employee engagement survey after each one. I’ve found that this is an efficient and simple way to improve that two-way communication that is so critical. These surveys are more than just a look at how happy employees are, they also measure the needs and wants of team members, and what they find most valuable. Showing employees that you are truly listening, taking their feedback and putting it into action speaks volumes to your team.

Turn Your Camera On for Meetings

Being on video during virtual meetings – whether group meetings or one-on-ones – goes a long way in building rapport among remote team members. Facial expressions and body language play a huge part in how we interact with and understand one another. Seeing these cues during meetings helps individuals engage and build relationships. Another benefit of keeping cameras on during meetings is that it limits distractions and multitasking, leading to improved accountability, better focus and increased participation.

Set Clear Expectations

Ambiguity in any job can lead to confusion and decreased productivity – even more so for remote roles. Without clear expectations, some employees feel disengaged and do just enough to get by. Others may work hard but on the wrong (unimportant, non-relevant) things that do very little for the organization.

Setting clear expectations is essential. Outline each team members’ responsibilities and specify expectations for daily tasks/availability, deadlines and deliverables. Set measurable and achievable performance goals for your reps and check in on their progress during your regular one-on-ones. This clarity empowers employees to take ownership of their roles and allows for a more efficient workflow within the team.

It’s also important to establish clear communication channels and preferences so sales reps know the best way to get in touch with you and vice versa. As remote employees, we can’t stop by one another’s desks with a quick question so you need to think about how you can replace that quick and easy communication. Internal chat platforms like Teams or Slack are great for this.

Show Your Team you Trust Them

Managing a remote team can be overwhelming. You often hear leaders’ worries about how to know if virtual employees are working as hard as they would in an office. While I understand the concern, I argue that this thinking sets you up for failure. Trust is the foundation of employee success and retention and is critical for managing remote sales teams.

When employees trust their supervisor, they stay at the company longer and deliver better customer service. A study in Harvard Business Review found that employees working at high-trust companies reported “74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives and 40% less burnout than people at low-trust companies.”

To show trust in your team members, I find it’s imperative to move away from micromanaging and, instead, empower them. I focus on creating open lines of communication with my team, giving them the tools they need to do their jobs and then rewarding that talent. This has created an evolution in our culture and employees have naturally become more engaged and more fulfilled in their jobs.

Remember, you hired the right talent, so give them the opportunity to prove themselves and empower them so they can grow in their job.

Create Value for Going into the Office (if Hybrid)

If your team works on a hybrid model, it’s crucial to show them there is value in going into the office. For example, use office time to maximize collaboration by holding brainstorming sessions, lunch and learns, and trainings. Days in the office can also be used to reinforce company culture – hold company events and team-building activities or outings. These in-office days can help contribute to a cohesive team environment that fosters a shared sense of purpose.

Managing a remote sales team certainly has its challenges, but by implementing the right strategies, remote managers can create a winning environment where employees feel seen and fulfilled, which leads to increased productivity and overall success.


  • Sara Wakefield

    Sara Wakefield is vice president of global sales and service at Infinite Electronics, a leading global supplier of electronic components. She oversees nearly 150 employees and credits the above practices as reasons Infinite’s turnover has remained low, even during tremendous growth in recent years.

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