“What if I fail to hit my sales targets since I’m working remotely?”
“How will I communicate with my team members if I come across a challenge?”
“Will I be productive the same way at home as I have been working from the office?
The fear is valid. But when you learn to manage your time effectively without any distractions and procrastination, you’ll be able to achieve all your sales goals that you’re aiming for.
- Understand Remote Sales Productivity
- Essential Time Management Tips for Remote Sales
- Strategies to Improve Sales Efficiency in Remote Sales
- Overcoming Common Time Management Challenges in Remote Sales
Understand Remote Sales Productivity
A successful remote salesperson is someone who can perform the following tasks efficiently:
- Training sales reps
- Conducting call outreach
- Executing sales campaigns
- Conducting sales calls
- Converting prospects to paying customers
What if they fail to accomplish these tasks?
Well, they’ll fall back in hitting the sales targets. This will result in non-efficiency in hitting the quarterly revenue goals, which will impact the ARR.
So, it’s important for remote sales professionals to manage their time efficiently.
Many people believe the concept of remote sales is unrealistic because of certain misconceptions.
What are they?
- The quality of my communication gets affected. Sales mostly happens in a physical environment, face-to-face. People believe that when sales happens remotely, it affects the quality of communication between the salesperson and the prospect. This leads to lower sales conversions.
- Limited access to important information. All the company information today is stored digitally. With collaboration tools like G-drive and Notion, organization’s create a digital repository that can be accessed by all their employees.
- Being non-productive in a different environment. Yes, remote sales productivity comes with challenges. But once you create a strict work routine and stick to it, working remotely can be most productive.
Essential Time Management Tips for Remote Sales
Below are a few time management tips that you should follow to achieve remote sales productivity:
Set clear goals and priorities
What goal do you want to achieve by managing your time efficiently? — answer this question to define your sales goal.
Then, decide the priorities and allocate tasks to accomplish the goal.
According to Hubspot’s 2023 Sales Strategy & Trends Report, 45% of salespeople want to exceed their sales target.
And how does that possible?
- By setting up face-to-face meetings
- Selling solutions to prospects and not the product
- Communicating their product value
- Establishing rapport with customers during the sales process
- Offering discounts to the nurtured prospects
- Understanding the business challenges of prospects
To leverage these milestones, you need to divide your priorities into different tasks. This way, you’ll know how much time you should be spending on each task to reach the final goal.
Break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks
Let’s say, if you focus on reducing the onboarding time for new sales reps, you need to break this goal down into smaller chunks of tasks.
These smaller tasks could be training the existing sales reps, improving their sales skills, and reviewing their performance after the training is completed.
This technique is called chunking, or micro productivity. Using this technique, your procrastination level decreases because you know the starting point.
Studies show that the average working memory capacity of a human brain is only 3-5 items. This means that you need to fit three to five smaller chunks of tasks in your brain instead of overloading it with heavier, larger tasks.
When you break bigger tasks into smaller tasks or to-dos, you’ll know your next move better.
💡Pro tip: To prevent yourself from getting distracted, write down your to-do list using a digital task list like Trello or Todoist, or physically on a notebook.
Use technology to your advantage
Whether you want to meet new customers or collaborate with your team members, conduct research on your prospects, or find new leads — you need a sales tech stack. It will help you streamline your sales process and stay organized while working remotely.
- Remote sales tools like CrankWheel allow you to add screen sharing to your calls and communicate more effectively with potential customers and team members.
- Appointment scheduling tools like Calendly simplify booking a time for the call and even automate email reminders.
- Cold outreach tools like Hunter.io help in finding email addresses and sending personalized email campaigns at the scale.
- Email clients like Canarymail.io allow users to customize their inbox and utilize robust email management tools, enhancing organizational capabilities and streamlining communication processes with prospects and team members.
- Project management tools like Notion let sales teams track their tasks.
- Revenue intelligence tools like Gong provide better AI-insights on activity, top deals, coaching opportunities, and forecast accuracy.
If you find yourself typing emails, attending calls with team members, and prospects while responding to Slack messages — you’re a multitasker.
When you switch from task 1 to task 2, your brain doesn’t get enough time to process the change. The result? Your productivity slows down.
So, what should you do instead?
- Close multiple tabs on your computer and only keep those tabs opened that you require for work.
- Use app blockers like SelfControl to block websites and apps that cause distraction during work hours.
- Use Pomodoro Technique.
- Manage your priority tasks and focus on them first.
Take regular breaks
After doing deep work for 2-4 hours, your brain gets overloaded and needs a break. Taking a break helps you recharge and rejuvenate before getting back to the state of deep work again.
During these breaks:
- Stay away from the mobile and laptop screens.
- Do stretching exercises
- Make yourself a cup of coffee
- Listen to music
All in all, do anything that rejuvenates you.
Strategies to Improve Sales Efficiency in Remote Sales
To ensure sales efficiency in your remote sales process, you need to have a structure in place.
This includes creating a strict work schedule and sticking to it, using CRM, improving your communication skills, having a growth mindset and upskilling yourself constantly.
Implement a Structured Daily Routine
When you create a structured work routine and follow it aggressively, you’ll get the maximum things done in time. The key is to stick to your created schedule. To create a schedule that works for you, here are a few things you must keep in mind:
- Combine your to-do list with time-blocking — Jot down your to-do list. Add not more than 5 tasks to your list, and then block time on your calendar based on this tasklist.
- Set your work hours — Identify your work and non-work hours, and work within these hours.
- Block time for personal activities — Block time on Google Calendar even for personal activities like watching Netflix, going out for work and so on.
- Book your meetings one or two days ahead— This gives you ample time to prepare yourself for the meeting without getting exhausted.
Utilize CRM Tools and Automation
Picture this: Your sales team is navigating through Excel sheets to review the prospect list and see who they need to follow up with. To their surprise, they found out that they hadn’t followed up with a prospect they spoke to two weeks back. Yikes.
Enter: Customer relationship management software (CRM).
CRMs are helpful for sales teams to streamline their workflow and automate manual tasks. They make the process of entering and storing customer data easier, cut off manual tasks, and improve your remote sales productivity.
Enhance Communication Skills
While in-office salespeople focus on verbal communication, the remote team focuses on verbal and written communication.
So when you work remotely, make sure to improve both your written and verbal communication skills. Here’s how:
- First, conduct extensive research on the prospect, their company, work, and products and services.
- On the sales call, actively listen to prospects, understand their challenges, and ask the right selling questions.
- If you don’t get specific information from the client, ask them about it.
- Pick the pain points from the conversation, reconfirm them, and share examples or anecdotes to emphasize the problem and solution.
- Use collaboration tools to record your sales calls to review them later.
- Use simpler words when drafting your messages.
- Use bullet points to make your message impactful and easy to read.
- Emphasize the key takeaways from the discussion and the next steps in your message.
Develop a Growth Mindset
Sales professionals with a growth mindset embrace challenges, take feedback positively, and work on improving their skill sets.
However, not every individual is born with a growth mindset. Yet, they can cultivate it in themselves and improve their performance. Here’s how:
- Identify fixed mindset triggers such as avoiding new challenges, ignoring feedback (both negative and positive), and considering yourself as an ‘I-know-it-all’ professional.
- Challenge your limiting beliefs by replacing them with empowering beliefs. For example, if your sales manager tells you that you’re bad with cold calls, don’t get offended. Instead, work on improving your cold-calling skills.
- Set a weekly learning routine where you’ll dedicate a few hours every week to improve your skills.
- Seek feedback on your performance rather than dismissing or resenting it. For example, say thank you when the sales manager gives you feedback, jot down feedback points, and share with the manager how you’ll implement the feedback received.
Continuous Learning and Development
Whether you’re working in-office or remotely, learning and developing your skillsets helps you:
- Upskill yourself
- Stay updated with the industry trends
But the real question is, how can you constantly learn and develop your skillsets, especially in a remote environment?
- With virtual training programs. An in-house sales leader or expert trains the sales reps on a specific topic.
- With time-blocking. Block time biweekly where sales professionals can practice sales role-playing with other team members and perfect their sales pitch.
- With online resources. Online resources like sales podcasts and YouTube channels.
Overcoming Common Time Management Challenges in Remote Sales
While people have misconceptions about remote sales (that we talked about in the starting), it also comes with certain challenges.
As a remote professional, you must have faced too. Let’s uncover these challenges and figure out how to overcome them.
Dealing with Distractions
Imagine you’re on a sales call while your family members are calling you and friends messaging you on WhatsApp.
The constant calls on the backend and mobile notifications distract you. Result? You lose your focus.
There are endless ways distractions can halt your productivity when working remotely. Some of the common distractions include:
- Having multiple tabs open your browser
- Receiving notifications from different websites and social media platforms
- Family and friends call you while you’re working
- Switching back and forth between multiple meetings in a day
Honestly, it’s hard to stay focused amidst these many distractions, but the solution exists. Here are a few ways you can minimize (and eliminate) these distractions:
- Create a work boundary with your friends and family by informing them about your work hours and when they can call you.
- Limit the number of meetings you’ll conduct in a day. Ideally, 2 meetings a day are enough.
- Turn off notifications for all the websites except the work-related websites.
- Work on only one task at a time, and do not multitask.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
It gets difficult to switch off from work and enjoy your time and vice-versa when working remotely. If you fail to find a perfect balance between the two, working remotely can become a complicated choice.
So, here are a few ways you can separate your personal and office hours:
- Set up your office space in a separate room from a bedroom. This creates a distinction between your rest space and your workspace.
- Use a dedicated business phone number for work calls. This way, you can switch it off during non-work hours.
- Specify your work hours clearly to your team members and managers about your working hours.
- Set up a status on Slack when you’re not working, vacationing, or out of the office.
- Use appointment scheduling software like Calendly and specify the day and time when you’ll be available for a call. This prevents both the team members and customers from booking calls on non-work days.
- Log out of all the work apps after work hours (or even uninstall the apps).
In an article written by Vogue India, Nawal Mustafa, a cognitive neuroscientist, breaks down the real reason for procrastination.
He says that people procrastinate when they are unable to regulate their emotions, or when they lack self-control. This lack of self-control arises from internal and external distractions.
But the good news is, you can lessen procrastinating and get your work done. Here are a few ways you can do so:
- Set a time limit on each task in your task list. Write down your to-do list, allot the number of hours you’ll spend on each task, and then reward yourself after you have completed the task.
- Use the 10-minute anti-procrastination technique. Allocate 10 minutes and immerse yourself in the task. If you like doing it, continue with the work and if you don’t like it, do it another hour.
- Frontload your week. Divide your days between higher and lower working hours where in the beginning of the week, you’ll work the maximum and as the week ends, you’ll work the lowest.
Managing Stress and Burnout
Are you spending longer hours working only to feel negative about your sales job? Warning: *you’re struggling with burnout.*
And you’re not alone. 75% of remote professionals experience stress and burnout at work. Things can get worse if you fail to identify the signs in the early stages.
Here are a few indicators you can use to identify if you’re suffering from burnout:
- You aren’t taking time off from your work (even when you have time).
- You lack work-life boundaries and end up working even during non-work hours.
- You spend longer hours working as compared to your office environment
- You don’t get enough sleep and you feel tired most of the time.
If you resonate with any or all of these indicators, you need a solution. Here are a few ways to get rid of stress and burnout:
Implement Stress Reduction Techniques
Start combining your daily work routine with some mindful and social activities. These include:
Practice guided meditation and deep breathing
- **Guided meditation: **There are several hundred meditations available online that you can listen to and meditate. During the guided meditation, make sure to slow down your breath — this will calm your stress and anxiety down.
- Deep breathing: With deep breathing, you can reduce the activation of your sympathetic nervous system. This controls the body’s response to fight or perceived threat. Take deep breaths on a count of 5 secs, hold your breath for 2 secs, and release on a count of 5 secs. Repeat this process as many times as you want.
Stay connected with people
Meet people over a virtual cup of coffee. Have dinners together virtually. Set up weekly calls with them. Talk about work and non-work things — your successes, your failures, the milestones you achieved, and your struggles.
For example, Flying Cat Marketing’s team members work remotely yet they feel the most connected with each other even when they’re time zones apart.
Side note: It’s not important that you *only* talk to your team members. It could be your friends and family members. The key is to share your struggles and get rid of the burnout phase.
Setting clear work-life boundaries
- Stick to a fixed daily work routine so that you can wind up your work at a specific time and enjoy your time off the work.
- Use time tracking tools like Toggl and Clockify to track the time you’re spending working, and find your most productive hours.
- Learn to say no to your sales managers or fellow sales professionals when you don’t have the bandwidth to take on extra work.
Self-care allows you to give yourself much needed time. It helps you rejuvenate and plug off from work.
Here are a few ways you can practice self-care in your work routine and break through the cycle of burnout:
- Go out for walks daily. Take at least 15-30 minutes every day to step outside your home and go for a walk.
- **Build a proper sleep routine. **Set a proper sleep routine and take at least 8 hours of sleep.
- Take evening naps. If you feel too exhausted during work hours, set an alarm for 30 mins and take a nap. You’ll feel rejuvenated when you get back to work.
- **Create a self-care morning routine. **Reading books, painting, meditating — it could be anything that brings you joy and gives a kick to start your day on a good note.
Remote sales productivity may seem complicated initially. But once you learn to tackle distractions and stick to your work schedule, you can hit all your sales goals the way you used to do when working from the office.
If you feel that following all the time management tips that we shared with you above is quite overwhelming, start here:
- Specify your work hours to your managers and colleagues.
- Use Pomodoro technique when you struggle with distractions.
- Take small breaks to rejuvenate yourself before you start deep work again.
- Set your workspace in a different space than the rest room.
- Block time on your calendar for both work tasks and personal activities.
Optimize this list based on your preferences. It’s time to get productive.
About the Author
Antonio is an outreach manager at Hunter. He is passionate about testing different outreach tactics and sharing results with the community. When he is not connecting with industry leaders you can find him on his motorbike exploring off-the-beaten paths around the world.