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How to Keep a Remote Sales Team Motivated & Engaged (Interview with Kyle MacKenzie Taylor of InVision)

How to Keep a Remote Sales Team Motivated & Engaged (Interview with Kyle MacKenzie Taylor of InVision)

Some say a remote sales team can’t work, but they’re making it work at InVision — makers of a product design platform with a team of 190+ customer-facing employees spread across the globe working in sales, customer success, and enablement. And they’re constantly hiring.

We talked to Kyle MacKenzie Taylor, a Sales Operations Analyst who helps ensure InVision’s remote sales reps have what they need to be successful.

We asked her: “As someone who works with a remote sales team, what are some real-life examples of how to ensure everyone stays motivated and engaged?”

Here’s are seven specific strategies Kyle shared with us.

Note: Troops is a Salesforce automation solution that works 100% within Slack. It is designed to help salespeople close more deals. Sign up for a free trial.

How to Have a Successful Remote Sales Team

1. First Things First: Hire the Right People

Step No. 1 is to hire people likely to perform well in a remote work environment.

“It takes a very special personality to work well in a remote environment,” Kyle explained. “Our recruiting team does a great job seeking out candidates who enjoy working autonomously and have shown high performance working from home. During the interview process, Sales leaders like to ask candidates questions to identify if a candidate is a self-starter and can solve problems without much guidance.”

Look for people who have shown they can excel at working independently—without needing a boss to look over their shoulder every hour of the day. Once you find the right people that really enjoy a remote environment, they’re motivated to make it work.

“When InVisioners start enjoying working from home, they really embrace it and get into really good routines,” Kyle told us. “We find that when folks realize the potential InVision’s flexible lifestyle offers, they want to work hard and do well in order to maintain that lifestyle and flexibility.”

2. Model Company Vision and Culture During Onboarding

InVision’s onboarding process is two weeks long — all of it done remotely. The second week is specific to sales and customer success teams and covers typical sales topics such as the company’s products, personas, and sales processes.

But what makes InVision’s sales onboarding unique is the comradery that forms within the onboarding team.

“You see your new coworkers every single day for ten days,” Kyle explained.  “It’s over Zoom, but I had probably 14 people in my cohort, and I’m still in touch with them even though we’re on different teams. We like to check in.”

The sales and customer success onboarding process is meant to get people excited. If you’re proud of your sales process and products, it’ll rub off on new hires.

“Folks are chomping at the bit to get started,” Kyle said. “They’re really excited about the sales tools, product training, and learning how we do things at InVision.”

One of the best experiences in InVision’s onboarding is a project called “Clark Tank,” a play on the popular show “Shark Tank” and InVision’s CEO, Clark Valberg. You join a group within your onboarding class and take on a persona like Product Manager, Designer, etc. and you build an app together using InVision.

This piece of onboarding really excites new hires because they learn to empathize with their customers by stepping into their shoes for a short period of time.

3. Utilize Competitive Transparency

InVision uses leaderboards that are updated in Slack daily. “It’s visible for the entire business development team, and it’s meant to be competition-based. Teams know that their numbers are on display and will be posted in this channel at 4 p.m. every single day.”

Remote Sales Teams: InVision uses a leaderboard in Slack to keep everyone on their toes!

InVision’s BDR leaderboard in Slack

Transparency is key to a remote environment, Kyle explained, because it’s tied to personal responsibility.

“Over-communication is a big thing for us,” Kyle said. “When you’re in an office, you can hear things being chatted about around you, but when you’re isolated and changes happen, you have to be the one to take the initiative to check your communication to make sure you’re keyed in on these changes.”

“It’s also our responsibility to make sure we are updating all of these different communication mediums with the changes that impact our reps. When changes happen, we communicate these changes with a variety of training resources like videos and detailed documentation in Guru, and alert our teams of the change and supporting documentation over email and Slack. If a rep ever gets stuck, they know they can hop into Guru to find the most up-to-date ‘How-to’s’.”

4. Automate as Many Processes as Possible

Just like a majority of teams that work remotely, InVision uses Slack and Zoom to stay connected online. They also have tons of shared files in Google Sheets, Salesforce, and other products.

InVision keeps all of their sales and customer service teams up-to-date across multiple apps by connecting Salesforce to Slack via Troops. For instance, when a new lead comes into Salesforce, Troops will send a notification and related files (like company logos) to the relevant Slack channel.

This also helps with customer relations.

“We use a tool that scrapes our reps’ calendars and, with any meeting that takes place with an individual outside of InVision, a task is created in Salesforce once the meeting is complete. Then Troops sends a notification to that individual to update the disposition of the meeting and add any notes.

This really helps minimize the amount of time folks spend updating meeting notes and fields in Salesforce. We have found it to be a big time saver.”

Remote sales teams benefit from utilizing Troops within Slack

5. Incentivize Your Newsletter

A monthly sales newsletter highlights process changes, as well as product releases, and new sales tool suggestions.

“We’ve included some incentives, for example, if someone reads the entire email and reaches the bottom, there’s some type of Bonus.ly incentive or, ‘Hey, send us your favorite joke and you’ll be featured in the next newsletter!’ These incentives seem to work, Kyle explained, since unlike many sales organizations, they’ve never had an issue getting reps to read the newsletter.

Remote sales teams benefit from having a newsletter with incentives

6. Encourage Autonomy

InVision uses remote “pods” with a business development rep and multiple sales managers working together on accounts. These pods have a lot of autonomy to come up with account-specific sales plans.

And speaking of autonomy — a sales rep’s time is best spent with clients, and autonomous workers get to prioritize that over company meetings and other internal time sinks. InVision has a VP of Business Excellence whose job is to protect reps’ time and keep it free for customers and leads.

“We’re extremely sensitive to our sales reps’ calendars and make sure to minimize the amount of time we’re taking for internal events. Accordingly, we try to minimize scheduled trainings and instead focus our energy on creating self-service resources for our team to use as references.”

7. Make Time for In-Person Interaction

When you’re working from home, the possibility of meeting coworkers you interact with online every day becomes a treat. InVision hosts one or two in-person events a year to foster company relationships.

At the beginning of every fiscal year, teams from the entire company fly in from all over to meet in person. Mid-year, the sales and customer service teams meet up separately.

“This past year, we all met in Hollywood, California, and it was so fun to see everyone. It is pretty hilarious to see how tall or short people are compared to what you assume when you’re talking to them over Zoom. And I think that sentiment is shared across the organization.”

But this isn’t necessarily the only time that the remote sales team will see each other. Outside of these large events, however, it’s on their terms.

With the flexibility of this job, people travel. A lot of people are able to see each other when they go into different WeWork offices. They’ll message the local Slack channels — like the one for the San Francisco Bay area. “Hey, I’m headed into town. Is anybody going to be in WeWork?” And more people show up and work at the WeWork because they know their friend is visiting.”

The Payoff: Motivated Sales Reps Close More Deals

Ultimately, keeping a remote sales team motivated and productive requires hiring the right people, encouraging autonomy, and practicing transparency. (And, of course, using the right tools.)

And, for Kyle, it boils down to communication. “I think communication is key. Obviously, every organization wants to be efficient, but I think we have to be extra-efficient and over-communicative.”

All the tools used by the sales team — Slack, Salesforce, Zoom, and others — work together to help InVision achieve its ultimate goal in sales: engaged reps who close more deals. InVision uses Troops to connect these tools together and help sales people collaborate and close deals.

Note: Troops is a Salesforce automation solution that works 100% within Slack. It is designed to help salespeople close more deals. Sign up for a free trial.