Some of the world’s top organizations have become successful due to their expansion into international markets; opening offices on every continent and hiring the best local experts to represent their growing brand.
With globalization effectively shrinking the planet, it’s essential that ambitious businesses follow suit and embrace their neighbors across the borders to facilitate new sales.
However, managing a sales staff that is geographically diverse is not without its problems. Time differences can mean that the entire team may never all be present for any one virtual meeting and setting targets could prove troublesome.
As such, here are a few best practices to help you effectively manage sales reps across multiple territories:
Focus on communication
It’s difficult to keep in touch with a diverse group of employees that work long hours and on different days (i.e. Sunday-Thursday in the UAE), without factoring in the time zones. Unsurprisingly, trying to stay in touch with staff spread about the globe isn’t easy, yet it is essential: two-way communication is probably the most important management tool.
Make the most of technology to simplify this issue. Leverage email, instant messages, conference calls, and a collaboration platform or intranet to make sure that communication is consistently cascaded to all members of the sales team. In turn, give them a forum through which they can give feedback to management, too. Additionally, encourage your sales managers to get out and meet with the extended team in person whenever possible.
It can be lonely on the road and sales reps can often feel out of the loop. There will be times when they require support, advice, guidance or simply someone to chat to. Sales managers should, therefore, ensure that they are available and contactable. This may require that they vary their working hours to ‘catch’ those that work in other time zones. Email, of course, works wonders in this sort of situation, but a video or phone call is much more personal and helps build relationships with your team members.
To encourage your team to feel comfortable to reach out to you outside of formal scheduled meetings, it can help if you and your team come up with some guidelines regarding when it’s okay to contact each other outside of usual business hours. That way, you encourage communication but your sales managers won’t be woken from their slumber by a colleague simply wanting to say ‘hi’.
Build a sense of teamwork
The sales role by nature can be very singular – reps typically visit clients and make pitches on their own and don’t see their colleagues particularly regularly. And in many situations, it’s doubtful they’ve ever met their counterparts in other countries.
However, making them feel like members of a supportive, cohesive team is key not only for morale but for the bottom line, thus worth putting some effort into. A great way to do this is to schedule in some virtual team building activities that people regardless of location can participate in. Facilitating an in-person all-hands annual get-together could be another great way to emphasise that the reps are all working towards the same goal.
What are some of your tips for managing a geographically diverse sales team? Let us know in the comments.