remote sales team

Hiring and Building a Rockstar Remote Sales Team: Complete Guide

Building and hiring your remote sales team doesn’t need to be hard. Read our complete guide to learn a trick or two that will make hiring sales reps simple and enjoyable.

Anja Simic
Written by Anja Simic
August 16, 2021
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Hiring a great sales team can bring more success to your business than you can imagine. Your sales reps unite your marketing and customer relationship efforts and play a crucial role in your revenue growth. That means hiring sales managers and other team members for this department should be a carefully thought process.

But what does the hiring process look like when you’re looking for remote sales professionals and building your sales team virtually?

You must be thinking it’s even harder because of certain restraints that come with not being able to talk to someone face-to-face.

But worry not, because we believe it doesn’t need to be as challenging if you follow strategies that have a proven record of generating great results. You’ll learn all about these strategies and more in this article.

What is a remote sales team?

Are your first thoughts of salespeople the ones you see at shops or front desks at different offices? It’s what we’re all used to, but times are changing fast. If you can have a virtual assistant or an online English teacher, why not a remote sales rep?

You can define a remote sales team as a team of sales professionals who don’t come into physical contact with customers or clients, but complete all their work virtually, using different online communication and management tools, such as videoconferencing, CRM software, and more.

Thanks to technological advances, it’s possible to carry out the whole virtual sales process without having to work in an office space and meet buyers and clients physically.

Where can you find proper candidates for your sales team?

The hiring process for sales representatives or sales managers looks the same as for any other position you decide to hire remotely. You’ll look for the same qualities in a person you’d like to add to your sales team, only they have to be a tad more tech-savvy and show remote work readiness in terms of having a proper working environment.

Learn what to look for when hiring remote team members.

Except for the traditional ways to search for employees, like posting on websites specialized for this purpose, you can use social media to identify good candidates. It’s not unheard of that many great collaborations started on Facebook or Instagram, but what may work even better, in this case, is LinkedIn.

Many people have realized the potential of connecting professionally with people from different industries and building their online resumes, so browsing on this network can help you save time. By examining potential candidates’ resumes and profiles you can skip some steps in your hiring process and reach out to prospective employees with an offer, instead of waiting for them to come to you.

The 8-step strategy for hiring salespeople remotely

How will you know if a person is the right choice for your company if you’ve never met them in person? Prospecting may seem more challenging when done remotely, but it doesn’t need to be. Consider these steps to make your sales hiring process more efficient.

1. Define the requirements for the position

Before you start interviewing candidates, define the requirements for the position you’re looking to fill in.

What do you expect from your new sales team member? Writing down not only the technical description of tasks but also more in-depth expectations from the new employee will help you write a better job post and you’ll be more likely to nail down the right candidate.

An ideal candidate should have at least some of the following qualities, other than technical skills needed to do the job:

  • A good listener and communicator
  • A go-getter able to transfer the energy to the customer
  • Competitive and goal-oriented
  • Empathetic
  • A good researcher
  • Focused on building relationships
  • Comfortable with receiving feedback (teachable)

This will also help you write a great remote sales job post, which is vital for the whole process and is the next step you should take.

2. Set clear expectations about the role responsibilities

Are you hiring sales representatives or sales leaders and managers? When you’re clear on what position you want to fill and what kind of person you need for it, break it all down to daily tasks your sales team members may have to complete. They may include the following:

  • Identifying new prospective customers and pitching to them
  • Making sure the relationship between your business and your customers remains positive
  • Analyzing the market and finding new potential ones
  • Working closely with the marketing department to generate better results
  • Using cold-calling strategy to get new leads
  • Participating in the hiring process
  • Creating a sales plan
  • Coaching and mentoring other team members
  • Assigning tasks to sales reps and more

When building your sales team, it’s also critical that everyone knows what metrics and KPIs they need to measure to track their success. Make sure you have them written down, too.

3. Pay attention to your remote sales job post

The right job post will attract the right candidates. It’ll eliminate people who go around applying for every sales job without feeling particularly passionate about working for your company. You want to hire people who will share your visions and goals so they can help your business grow.

What should your job post contain? Don’t only focus on what you expect from candidates, but also include a brief summary of employee benefits they may experience and a short description of what their workday would look like. That can narrow down the list of applicants to those who see that description as something they’d like to do.

Don’t forget to highlight the critical skills and qualities successful remote salespeople should have to perform their work on a high level. Also, add technical details regarding the job: salary range, employment type (contractor or employee), working hours (full-time or part-time), etc.

4. Read cover letters

Suppose the applicants will need to send you their resumes. What about cover letters?

Don’t neglect this form of applying for a job because in some cases, it can be even more meaningful than a CV. A resume usually only tells you about a candidate’s professional experience and education, but a cover letter can reveal so much more: their motivation, interests, and passions, so you can determine whether the applicant is the right choice for your company.

5. Ask the right interview questions

Remote workers usually have their own set of expectations when applying for a job. Make sure you express interest in how the interviewee sees the job at your company. You may discover something you haven’t thought about, which may help you improve your hiring process or employee benefits.

Skip the generic questions like “where do you see yourself in ten years?” and rather give your prospective employee a real-life situation they’d need to resolve or react to. The candidate’s answers will tell you a lot about their professional skills, and their personality, as well.

Remote Job Interview: List of Interview Questions to Ask a Remote Worker

6. Establish trust at the beginning

Whether you’re hiring managers or representatives, the situation can be tricky when you’re hiring remotely. How do you know your people are really working when you can’t monitor them? Micromanaging or having the employees check in every ten minutes is definitely not something you want to do.

Trust is the key to an effective remote work business relationship when you’re welcoming a new employee into your team. You don’t know them well, so it’s natural that you’re wondering if you can trust them completely.

However, if you set up a detailed onboarding process and a friendly atmosphere where they can clear their doubts and ask questions, they’ll be more likely to trust you as their employer. If you act more as a mentor and less as a boss, you’ll gain their trust first. And when people trust you, they’ll put in a lot of effort to give their maximum performance every day and be honest when they need help.

So, to establish trust, give clear instructions, offer your help at every step, and be a mentor rather than a boss. When you create a safe environment for your new salespeople to work in, they won’t feel like they need to look for shortcuts.

7. Don’t hire reactively

Proactive thinking will help you find a good fit for the role you’re looking to fill and get better results with your sales team. If you don’t plan timely and you only look for sales professionals when there’s an emergency (someone leaves the company, for example), you may end up with unsuitable candidates and no time to train them well.

Read more about how to train remote workers

Instead, you can use a sales forecasting template to anticipate when you’ll need to hire salespeople to grow your team. Then, you’ll be able to plan accordingly instead of accepting last-minute applicants because you have no other choice.

Also, if you’re hiring reactively, chances are you won’t be focused enough during the interview and your candidate may not be a good culture fit for your team. You might miss or choose to ignore some non-verbal cues, which are vital for interviews not held face-to-face.

8. Don’t overcomplicate the paperwork

Finally, don’t neglect the technicalities of building your remote sales team. When hiring remote employees, paperwork can be a challenge, and even more if you’re working with foreign contractors.

Try to keep the paperwork as simple as it can be - as long as you’re compliant with local laws. Asking for too many unnecessary documents may put off good candidates and they may even decide to drop out of your recruitment process.

How to train your sales team members

There are several effective ways to train new people on your sales team.

  • Pre-existing video training
  • Webinars
  • One-on-one sessions with a mentor

All three training types have their pros and cons.

If you’re using video training, you can coach many people at the same time and when they find it convenient. On the other hand, new employees have no one to ask if they have questions about the training.

That’s why a combination of video training and webinars or individual coaching sessions with a mentor may work best. Video training can give your new employees a good base, which they can build up later during more personalized sessions.

Webinars also give you a chance to work with more people simultaneously and can save your time, and the employees still have a chance to clear their doubts. On the other hand, individual sessions with mentors can help you identify each person’s strengths and help them fit in even better.

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Benefits of having a remote sales team

Have you ever wondered if having a remote sales team can actually bring you more value than having all your employees in the office settings?

Yes, it can. And here’s a list of reasons why.

Bigger talent pool

You don’t need to require your employees to relocate anymore. Remote work is booming, so many people have already turned at least one corner of their homes into a home office. They’re ready to work remotely so your access to the global talent pool is enabled. It’s up to you to search outside your borders and pick the best candidates.

Reduced costs

Not having to sit in an office means less money for you to spend on rent, office supplies, utility bills, and more. You may have been underestimating these costs, but as soon as you start saving them, you’ll see that the sums aren’t insignificant.

Insights from different cultures and locations

Different backgrounds your sales reps and managers come from can bring valuable insights to your business. You may be able to expand your market because you get to learn first-hand about different locations and people’s needs in those locations. And since your salespeople are the ones investigating prospective markets, you’ll have inside men to help you carry out a proper strategy.

Increased productivity

Did you know that almost half of the respondents in a Gartner survey said they’d continue working from home even after the pandemic is over? Many supervisors from different companies were worried about getting the work done, but research results show the opposite.

Productivity among workers has increased, so you can rest assured that, provided you give them appropriate training, your sales managers and reps can do brilliant work even if you hire remotely. First of all, they won’t waste time commuting, which can sometimes take hours. Secondly, they’ll have more energy and time to devote to doing actual work.

The challenges of hiring a virtual sales team

There are indeed many benefits to hiring a remote sales team, but we’d be lying if we said there were no challenges whatsoever. There are, but you can overcome them with a good strategy and then enjoy the perks of working with your sales reps and managers remotely.

Technical issues

Your internet connection won’t always cooperate. Apps and programs are prone to bugs and that’s why it’s critical to have patience. But, even more importantly, you should always have a backup plan in case a Zoom call fails for any reason and it’s vital that you have that meeting with your sales team.

Work environment

Most people can create basic conditions for themselves to work remotely, but what about equipment? It can be challenging to deliver devices that a sales team member may need to do their job, especially if they live in another country. Work on a plan B, at least for the period until the necessary equipment is delivered.

Time zones

What happens when your team is working in different time zones? You may find it hard to gather everyone and hold a meeting, but detailed planning comes in handy in this situation. Group team members based on their responsibilities and locations. Have sales reps from Europe answer to a sales manager who’s in the closest time zone to them, and do the same for the US, for instance.

That way, you’ll enhance communication and workflow and enable teamwork between these employees. Then, once in a while, organize a meeting that will be somewhere in between - half of your team can stay up a bit later and the other half can wake up a bit earlier than usual so you can all go through the agenda together.

Team buildings

If you hire globally, it’s likely that someone from the team won’t be able to attend a team-building event.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t organize one virtually. There are a lot of team-building games and activities you can do together and have fun while getting to know each other better even if you’re not in the same place physically.

Tools that make managing a virtual sales team easier

When building a remote sales team, it’s essential that you provide them with suitable tools. These tools can streamline your workflow, provide better real-time communication between team members, and contribute to resolving any potential issues faster.

Video calls and online teamwork are just some of the aspects for which remote companies need to find adequate solutions. Here are the three categories of online tools and software to consider for your sales team.

Communication tools

Video calls are a must when you can’t speak to someone face-to-face. That’s why apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are necessary for remote sales teams. They enable virtual meetings and make it easier for team members to work together.

Project management tools

Even if your remote team members live and work in different time zones, that shouldn’t be an issue thanks to project management tools like Asana, Notion, Slack, or Trello. There, you can easily organize and schedule tasks, communicate with your team members, and track all important sales metrics and KPIs.

Sales management programs (CRM)

A good CRM program, like Salesforce or Zoho, is just as important for your sales team. These programs help your employees track their sales and targets, gather lead information, forecast future sales, create ideal customer avatars and lead generation and qualification tactics, optimize sales processes and cycles, and more. Many activities can be automated, which helps sales professionals save time and focus on core actions that help a business grow.

Make your remote sales team awesome

Whether you're a startup founder, a big company CEO, or a sales manager, you know that having an efficient and hard-working sales team can be crucial for your business growth. With the right people, you can achieve amazing results, and that’s why hiring sales reps should be a process you’ll carefully plan.

There are a couple of obstacles when building your remote sales team, but the perks are sure worth investing your time and resources to overcome them. And if you follow our tips, hiring new sales professionals won’t be something to be anxious about, but a process you’ll look forward to.

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