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Inside Sales & the Mobile Workforce: Tips for Managing Telecommuters


Sales TelecommutingAG Salesworks is pleased to bring you a guest post from Kevin ThorntonExecutive Vice President - Sales & Marketing for VanillaSoft. 

When you take a look at some of the statistics available, it seems like a no-brainer and a win-win situation to implement a telecommuting program for your sales organization.  According to Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting could have the following benefits for U.S. companies and commuters:

For Businesses

  • Annual savings of over $500 billion in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover and productivity:  the equivalent of >$11,000 per employee/year.
  • An increase of productivity on a national scale that equals $270 billion worth of work.

For Workers

  • Savings of $2,000 - $7,000 in combined work-related and transportation costs along with potential savings in after school care and eldercare costs.
  • A gain of 2-3 weeks worth of free time per year – time that would have been spent commuting.

Telecommuting definitely has its benefits – especially for sales professionals.  There are numerous case studies and statistics that point out that the virtual workforce is typically happier and more productive.  However, you can’t just turn off the lights in the sales department and send everyone home to work without taking some steps to ensure your team’s success when working remotely.

Keys to Success for Your Virtual Sales Team

Be a Good Virtual Manager - managing telecommuters takes a little more planning than managing an in-house team.

  • Set Expectations – There are two aspects to cover here: your company’s policy for telecommuting (required work space, hardware, hours, etc.) and your expectations for productivity and performance.
  • Define & Review Goals – Set measurable goals with due dates that you review with your team regularly.
  • Be Available & Develop Peer Mentors – It’s important to provide your sales inside sales reps with ways to contact you easily – text, email, chat/IM.  If you have inside sales reps that work shifts outside of your typical office hours, have designated peer mentors to help support new reps if there aren’t shift supervisors available. 
  • Take Time to Train – It’s critical that you use technology that allows managers and supervisors to monitor sales calls for training purposes and quality assurance.  Lead management solutions for virtual sales teams should offer features like VoIP, live call monitor and recording, and real-time reporting to help you coach virtual sales reps as easily as you do in-house team members.

Ensure They Have the Right Tools – the best-laid plans will go awry if you haven’t provided your sales reps the right tools for the job.

  • Hardware & Internet. If your company is not providing hardware and Internet service to your virtual reps, you need to provide a spec document and an employee agreement stating they will meet those specifications.  The wrong hardware or Internet connection speed could totally undermine the inside sales rep’s ability to get the job done.
  • Software Requirements. The best case scenario to ensure consistency in your sales process is to mandate that all virtual sales reps use the same system, ideally one with a central data repository that will provide easy access to data and management dashboards.  If you allow inside sales reps to use their own system of spreadsheets, databases, etc., the likelihood of receiving their sales data back in a consistent and actionable format is highly unlikely. Plus, if they leave, they may take their Rolodex and account info with them.
  • Software Selection.  This is a task to address before you share software requirements with the team. If your virtual reps are managing existing business relationships, then CRM software may be appropriate.  However, if your virtual team members are charged with the task of generating new sales, then you likely want to provide lead management software that includes:
    • Logical branch scripting
    • Automatic lead distribution
    • VoIP integration & auto dialing
    • Next-best call logic
    • Email templates & document library
    • Email nurturing campaign functionality
    • Lead scoring
    • And other features designed for lead generation and prospecting.

When you are well prepared, a telecommuting program will benefit you and your inside sales reps. Are you currently managing a virtual sales team?  If not, what are your plans for the future?  


kevin thornton resized 600Kevin Thornton is Executive Vice President - Sales & Marketing for VanillaSoft, a cloud-based lead management and appointment setting software provider for Inside Sales Teams. Kevin’s career spans over 20 years leading sales teams that have generated over $1B in software sales.  He is responsible for accelerating global customer and revenue growth and overseeing all new customer engagement and acquisition strategies.  In 2013, Kevin was named to the Sales Lead Management Association’s (SLMA) 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn and Google+.




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