Working remotely is becoming more commonplace – mainly for an unfortunate reason. However, companies that have sales team members located throughout the country have long faced such challenges as communication and an overall feeling of isolation among team members – which can lead to a lack of the feeling of teamwork that’s essential for success.
According to a survey by conference call provider PowWowNow, 56% of employees believe managers need to adapt their skills to manage a remote workforce. Whether your company has just embarked upon the remote work path or you’ve been managing a remote sales team for some time, a good customer relationship management (CRM) system can help provide the support necessary to seamlessly achieve your sales goals.
How can CRM help your sales team?
Monitor your sales team’s work activity – The biggest challenge that sales managers face is keeping track of team members’ progress. Lloyd recommends having employees put together a weekly work list that details their leadership development activities, plans of action and goals. This keeps everyone accountable and lets managers know who is working on what.
“It’s crucial that salespeople manage their time wisely and invest their efforts in the right opportunities,” writes Lloyd. “It’s unproductive to spend time and resources on leads that aren’t likely to yield high returns or convert prospects to customers. Managers can use tools to track the sales activities of their remote employees.”
With a CRM system in place, you can monitor your remote employees effectively. Your employees can submit their daily and weekly status, and you can review it with them once or twice a week. You can use apps that can integrate with your CRM to collect data from physical sales visits. You also have apps that can track where your employees spend their time. With these inputs, you can improve the efficiency of your remote workers.
As managers, it is crucial to monitor your employees, but make sure you don’t start micromanaging. It is vital to keep the trust factor intact.
Give them the tools they need the most – If you want your remote sales team members to perform at their best, you need to provide them with the necessary tools. A robust CRM solution is crucial for team members to follow up with leads and for managers to monitor their progress. Managers should encourage remote employees to update potential and existing customer information as often as possible.
Who needs to see your CRM?
Your sales team doesn’t work in a vacuum. As Matt Keener – president of Keener Marketing Solutions – points out in his article for Insightly, marketing and accounting teams are closely intertwined with sales.
The marketing team “… creates the collateral that supports outbound engagement. Your accounting team makes sure that customers pay their bills on time. Providing necessary stakeholders with CRM access can increase transparency and free up your sales team to focus on hitting their numbers, instead of answering questions and looking for information for staff who do not have access.”
However, says Keener, limit access, where appropriate, by closely managing permissions. “Give team members the permissions they need to perform their jobs—no more, no less.”
How to make migration to a CRM smoother
Your company may be in the process of evaluating CRM solutions for the first time, or re-evaluating your current system because it isn’t meeting expectations. Our blog post – “How Can You Tell if You Need to Change Your CRM System” – covers the danger signs, which include your sales staff refusing to use it!
Whichever is the case, Bob Carver – founder and principal consultant at Carver Technology Consulting LLC – provides some helpful advice on easing the transition to a CRM system in his article for Social Media Today.
When shopping for a CRM solution, Carver recommends considering many factors other than the budget alone.
Integrations – What software does it need to work with? Email marketing software is the biggest, because contacts will have to sync both directions.
Data Sync – Once you figure out what your CRM needs to work with, you need to determine how to synch the data. Many tools rely on third parties, which can be confusing, as tools too often advertise that they integrate with another platform. You could discover that synchronization is not native and requires the time and expense of buying yet another tool for this purpose.
Growth – Consider the growth your company anticipates over the next 24 months (since many tools bill annually). How many contacts will you be adding? How many emails will you be sending? Business success may cause you to jump to a new pricing tier.
Ease of use – As covered in our blog post – “Why Your Sales Reps Try to Avoid CRM” – no matter how technically advanced or how many features a CRM solution has, a system that your sales staff doesn’t feel comfortable using won’t be used. Involve your sales team in the selection process, then give them the onboarding and training they need in order to feel confident in their ability to use it successfully, and get up-to-speed as quickly as possible.
Choose your CRM solution carefully
Speaking of the selection process, we invite you to evaluate eZnet CRM for your organization. Designed to be a comprehensive CRM solution, eZnet CRM is user-friendly, easy to customize and scale, and has excellent vendor support. Contact us to learn more, and start your free 30-day trial.