Top 5 Mistakes Companies Make Managing Remote Sales Teams

Top 5 Mistakes Companies Make Managing Remote Sales Teams

Remote sales offices are established typically with the single purpose of growing new markets and revenue sources for the company.  Anything that hinders that mission is by definition hindering company growth and impeding efforts to grow revenues.With that in mind I have put together a list of common mistakes I have seen repeated many times so you can at least recognize and correct them or at best avoid them.

Mistake 1:  Not enough support resources.  This mistake is almost always preceded in a sales meeting by the phrase “You sell it and we will figure out how to deliver it/get you the resources to get it done.”As an employee in this situation a giant flashing light and klaxon should go off in your head warning you of the impending danger.  Negotiate for specific technical resources with timeline commitments before you accept the position or ask and understand how your sales efforts will be supported.  If it does not pass the smell test in explanation, you should never expect it to pass the smell test in execution.As a company, you risk damaging your reputation, losing customers, destroying your remote sales teams integrity in the market, and doing irreparable damage to the remote teams morale by failing to execute all post sales responsibilities.If a company cannot truly support a remote sales team that is going to need company resources to deliver the products and services they are selling, the company is better off not opening/closing that field location and terminating/relocating that sales resource to a market the company can support with certainty.You cannot fight a war to win revenues without establishing clear lines of support.

Mistake 2:  Treating every office the way you treat the home office sales team.  Remote offices are almost always setup to expand the corporate empire based on the success of the home office.  It is a massive mistake to manage a new office in a new remote city the same way you manage your home office sales team.In your home city it is likely that your company has established a certain momentum aiding ongoing sales efforts.  This momentum is often a compilation of several factors including having an established local brand, a number of years in business, culture, established customer base, local references, local advertising and publicity, tradition, and typically, local ownership ties.It is a fundamental mistake to set across the board sales targets and objectives for the sales teams facing radically different established momentum.  This is not a matter of simply waiting for a new market sales resource to ramp up, it requires a fundamental change in how you attack that market.  S

Mistake 3:  Not understanding the unique requirements of new markets or of markets in different stages of development and managing them all the same.

In establishing a remote office, a company is typically:

Expanding into a new market where their services have not been offered before.

Opening a remote office around a key client.

Opening a remote office to manage some existing accounts with hopes for growth.

Making a tactical decision to rapidly expand, block a competitor, arrive in a market ahead of a competitor or grab a key location.

The strategy for every office needs to be unique to its individual market situation.  Even McDonalds, with world wide name recognition and a reputation for producing a consistent product makes adjustments to their menu and process based on the unique qualities of the market they are entering.

In a new territory where there is no name recognition, I focus on territory planning, earning core anchor accounts that can be used as references, and deploying heavy support resources to make sure the first few engagements are successful ones to make sure the first few steps in a new market are solid ones as we begin to build our name.  That is radically different than my market approach with the home office.

Match management focus to individual market needs to establish remote offices in new territories.


Mistake 4:  Expecting remote office staff to be able to generate the same volume of reports/ admin/paperwork as the home office.

Where there are sales professionals there is paperwork.  Expense reports, pipeline reports, call reports, travel logs, presentations, proposals, RFPs, etc.

While there may be a standard procedure for preparing and completing necessary paperwork don’t automatically assume that what works for the home office is even necessary or will work for smaller remote offices.  In many cases there are additional official or unofficial support resources that assist in keeping the sales machine running in the home office.  Burdening a remote office with excessive admin requirements can destroy morale and limit their time/ability to do what the office was established to do, sell.

Mistake 5:  Micro manage remote resources.

In retrospect, I probably should have put this one first because this has been the death of so many remote sales organizations and the HQ based managers that are tasked with managing them.  Micro management has no place in managing remote sales teams.

Yes, the remote sales team is going to be out of the daily purview of management but that does not mean there needs to be any extra controls put in place to make sure they are doing their job.

In fact, there should be far fewer controls on them than there are on the sales team at HQ.  If you want the specifics of why, send me an email and I will break it down for you.  Pick four or five metrics preferably built into existing sales reporting tools to use to manage your sales team.

It makes no sense to try and manage where the remote sales team is and what they are doing every minute of the day.  If your sales team is making their numbers legally and ethically, who cares where they are.

If some team members are not making their numbers, use activity metrics and their call ratios as a comparison to determine where/why they are struggling.

I have managed remote offices, opened remote offices and carved up new territories and can tell you from personal experience that there seems to be a tendency to treat remote sales offices as somehow of lesser importance than HQ.  Perhaps that is because of the revenue disparity between the established home office and the developing remote office or the lack of daily interaction, I am not sure.

Remote offices are your growth strategy.  Remote teams should get at least the same amount of attention as the home office sales staff, but in truth I think that a remote office team needs more ongoing attention to run at its peak.

We nurture babies more than adults.  We tend to the needs of puppies more than the adult dogs they become.  We pay more attention to young plants than we do old established trees they grow to be.  That same methodology should be applied to growing and managing remote offices.

Crafting an Elevator Pitch

You’ve just bumped into a former client at the airport. After exchanging pleasantries, he asks you what your new company does.

You open your mouth, and then pause. Where on earth do you start? Then, as you try to organize your thoughts, his flight is called, and he’s on his way.

If you’d been better prepared, you’re sure that he’d have stayed long enough to schedule a meeting.

This is one situation where it helps to have an “elevator pitch.” This is a short, pre-prepared speech that explains what your organization does, clearly and succinctly.

In this article, we’ll explore situations where these are useful, and we’ll look at how to craft an effective elevator pitch.

About the Technique

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use elevator pitches to create interest in a project, idea, or product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name.

Elevator pitches should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain what makes you – or your organization, product, or idea – unique.

When to use an Elevator Pitch

Some people think that elevator pitches are only useful for salespeople who need to pitch their products and services. But you can also use an elevator pitch in other situations.

For example, you can use one to introduce your organization to potential clients or customers. You could use them in your organization to sell a new idea to your CEO, or to tell people about the change initiative that you’re leading. You can even craft one to tell people what you do for a living.

Creating an Elevator Pitch

It can take some time to get an elevator pitch right. You’ll likely go through several versions before finding one that is compelling, and that sounds natural in conversation.

Follow these steps to create a great pitch, but bear in mind that you’ll need to vary your approach depending on what your pitch is about.

1. Identify Your Goal

Start by thinking about the objective of your pitch.

For instance, do you want to tell potential clients about your organization? Do you have a great new product idea that you want to pitch to an executive? Or do you want a simple and engaging speech to explain what you do for a living?

2. Explain What You Do

Start your pitch by describing what your organization does. Focus on the problems that you solve and how you help people. If you can, add information or a statistic that shows the value in what you do.

Ask yourself this question as you start writing: what do you want your audience to remember most about you?

Keep in mind that your elevator pitch should excite you first; after all, if you don’t get excited about what you’re saying, neither will your audience. Your pitch should bring a smile to your face and quicken your heartbeat. People may not remember everything that you say, but they will likely remember your enthusiasm.


Imagine that you’re creating an elevator pitch that describes what your company does. You plan to use it at networking events. You could say, “My company writes mobile device applications for other businesses.” But that’s not very memorable!

A better explanation would be, “My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This results in a big increase in efficiency for an organization’s managers.”

That’s much more interesting, and shows the value that you provide to these organizations.

3. Communicate Your USP

Your elevator pitch also needs to communicate your unique selling proposition, or USP.

Identify what makes you, your organization, or your idea, unique. You’ll want to communicate your USP after you’ve talked about what you do.


To highlight what makes your company unique, you could say, “We use a novel approach because unlike most other developers, we visit each organization to find out exactly what people need. Although this takes a bit more time, it means that on average, 95 percent of our clients are happy with the first beta version of their app.”

4. Engage With a Question

After you communicate your USP, you need to engage your audience. To do this, prepare open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer) to involve them in the conversation.

Make sure that you’re able to answer any questions that he or she may have.


You might ask “So, how does your organization handle the training of new people?”

5. Put it all Together

When you’ve completed each section of your pitch, put it all together.

Then, read it aloud and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes. Your elevator pitch should be no longer than 20 – 30 seconds. Otherwise you risk losing the person’s interest, or monopolizing the conversation.

Then, try to cut out anything doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Remember, your pitch needs to be snappy and compelling, so the shorter it is, the better!


Here’s how your elevator pitch could come together:

“My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This means that senior managers can spend time on other important tasks.

“Unlike other similar companies, we visit each organization to find out exactly what people need. This means that, on average, 95 percent of our clients are happy with the first version of their app.

“So, how does your organization handle the training of new people?”

6. Practice

Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Remember, how you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.

Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. You want it to sound like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch.

Make sure that you’re aware of your body language as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, in front of colleagues until the pitch feels natural.

As you get used to delivering your pitch, it’s fine to vary it a little – the idea is that it doesn’t sound too formulaic or like it’s pre-prepared, even though it is!

Tip 1:

You may want to keep small take-away items with you, which you can give to people after you’ve delivered your pitch. For example, these could be business cards or brochures that talk about your product idea or business.

Tip 2:

Remember to tailor your elevator pitch for different audiences, if appropriate.

Key Points

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you can use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use one to create interest in a project, idea, or product.

An elevator pitch needs to be succinct, while conveying important information.

To craft a great pitch, follow these steps.

Identify your goal.

Explain what you do.

Communicate your USP.

Engage with a question.

Put it all together.


Try to keep a business card or other take-away item with you, which helps the other person remember you and your message. And cut out any information that doesn’t absolutely need to be there.

How to Help Remote Salespeople Sell Better

How to Help Remote Salespeople Sell Better

More and more people are working from home these days, and this includes salespeople. There are definite advantages to having salespeople manage a territory and work from their home. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with some serious disadvantages. One of the biggest is the general lack of situational knowledge that is gained by working with a group of people in a single place.

When everyone is working together in the same location, there are far more opportunities for conversation, formal and informal. There is an exchange of knowledge that isn’t easy to replicate when someone is working at an outpost. Sales organizations are going to have to do a better job of helping salespeople who are working from home.

Here are three ideas.

Share Tribal Knowledge

One of the biggest challenges of not being connected to the home office is the general lack of tribal knowledge. Salespeople working from home aren’t included in the communication that only occurs face-to-face, and they are missing a lot of context when they do receive information. We can try to keep salespeople updated with intranets and email, but it isn’t the same. It doesn’t feel the same, it’s one directional, and it doesn’t have the same result.

To improve this, you have to find ways to share tribal knowledge. You have to make time for more formal and informal communication, including webinars and small group meetings where the kinds of conversations that can happen face-to-face happen virtually. Video helps tremendously. So does dedicating time to just share what’s going on in the business.

Who are we competing against most often? What are they selling? Who has the hot hand on the sales team and why? What’s changing out there and what are we doing about it? These conversations aren’t part of the sales meeting we usually hold, but they need to be.

More Time at the Office

It’s hard to be disconnected. The longer you are disconnected, the more you feel that you are out of touch. The more frequently you can bring the salespeople from the outposts back to galactic headquarters, the better. The more often they can walk the halls, interact with their team, and spend time interacting with the rest of the company, the more they will feel connected to them.

Some salespeople almost never visit the rest of their team. Some only see the home office every year. This is too long to go without having real, face-to-face visits and communication with the rest of their team—and especially their sales managers.

Virtual Ride-a-longs

In the old days, we transferred a lot of knowledge to the sales force by riding along with them on sales calls. This seems to have been all but abandoned. Now there is no transfer of knowledge. There are no curbside sales meetings after the sale call. There’s no informal sharing of information and feedback. Is it any wonder we aren’t doing well as we might be?

If your people make sales calls from home, you need to do a virtual ride-a-long. Listen to those phone conversations. If they are making virtual presentations, join those presentations and ensure that salesperson gets the feedback they need. Have the curbside sales meeting over the telephone or video. And make the opportunity to go and ride-a-long on real face-to-face sales calls, too.

Spend time transferring the knowledge and the feedback you would share if your salesperson worked down the hall, and help your remote sales force sell better.


What are the disadvantages of working remotely?

What does it cost the company to NOT have the salesperson working with their team?

What are your best ideas for helping transfer situational knowledge to remote sales people?

How do you ensure that your remote sales force is connected to the rest of the company?


Sales Managers: You Are Responsible for Your Organization’s Culture

Your company’s culture is far more important than you realize and don’t think for a moment it’s somebody else’s job.

Everyday your employees come to work, but do they come to engage their minds?

The output of an organization is influenced dramatically by how each person in the organization feels.

Culture is far more important to an organization than most managers believe.  It’s important for several reasons, including the fact it serves as a foundation with regard to integrity and personal performance.

Your employees are taking their cues from you.

They watch you to see how you handle yourself in good times and bad times, and what they see from you becomes what they wind up believing as acceptable behavior.   Culture starts at the top. It does in a family with the parents, it does in a school with the administrators and it does in the workplace with the managers.

Watch a company when they bring in a new CEO from outside the company. Notice how thing change.  Same thing goes for departments within a company when an outside manager takes over.

The impact you as a manager/leader has on your team is far greater than you realize.  Bigger yet is the impact you have in ways you never thought about.

Your people take their behavioral cues from you. To put it another way, as you are now is how your employees will be someday.   Is that scary or is that inspiring?

What are the things you do or don’t do that are impacting how they behave?

Many people are say culture can’t be measured, so it’s not something to worry about.  I’ll challenge that and say a company’s culture can be measured.  It shows up in both the top-line sales numbers and the bottom-line profit results

Making a Great First Impression

It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follows.

So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression. This article provides some useful tips to help you do this.

Be on Time

Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Plan to arrive a few minutes early. And allow flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.

Be Yourself, Be at Ease

If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. If you are calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one. See our section on relaxation techniques to find out how to calm that adrenaline!

Present Yourself Appropriately

Of course physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.

But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. (Unless you are interviewing with your local model agency, of course!)

No. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?

Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? Suit, blazer, casual? And ask yourself what the person you’ll be meeting is likely to wear – if your contact is in advertising or the music industry, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note!

For business and social meetings, appropriate dress also varies between countries and cultures, so it’s something that you should pay particular attention to when in an unfamiliar setting or country. Make sure you know the traditions and norms.

And what about your grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave. Clean and tidy clothes. Neat and tidy make up. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.

Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part,” and so feel more calm and confident. Add all of this up and you are well on your way to creating a good first impression.

A Word About Individuality

The good news is you can usually create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation. If in a business setting, wear appropriate business attire. If at a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire. And express your individuality appropriately within that context.

A Winning Smile!

As the saying goes, “Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. But don’t go overboard with this – people who take this too far can seem insincere and smarmy, or can be seen to be “lightweights”.

Be Open and Confident

When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.

Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person to feel better at ease.

Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check. And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease. Again, see our section on relaxation techniques for help with this.

Small Talk Goes a Long Way

Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation?

Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.

Be Positive

Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.

Be Courteous and Attentive

It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behavior!

One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phone.” What first impression will you create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100 percent of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.

Key Points

You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot.

Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.

5 Stupid Phrases Salespeople Say By Accident When Trying to Close

Below are 5 stupid phrases salespeople say right when they’re presenting the price and trying to close.  (Usually what ends up happening is they offer a discount! Ouch!)

Have you ever found yourself saying…

Is that more than you thought it would be?

Are you concerned about the price?

How does this price compare with what you’ve been looking at?

I’m sure there is some flexibility in the price.

I think I can come up with something cheaper.

As you read through them, you may have breathed a sigh of relief because you can’t recall using any one of them.

Guess what?  Most people have used them or variations of them, and worst of all, we don’t even realize we’ve used them.

We use phrases like this because we’re not confident and we’re trying to close the sale based on our friendliness to engage the customer.  Big mistake!

Never try to close a sale unless you are confident.  If you’re not confident, there is no way you will be able to come out of the sale with the highest level of profit possible.

Also, using friendliness to close a sale is certainly a fine strategy, but use it throughout the sale process — don’t just double-down on the use of friendliness as you close the sale.

In this situation, the friendliness you’re displaying to the customer is causing anger with your company by costing you and your company profit.

When you state your price, you must do it with confidence in you voice and body language, and then after stating the price, be silent.

It’s the silence that destroys the salesperson who is not confident.  The silence overwhelms them and they suddenly make a stupid statement like one of those listed above.  State your price and wait for the customer to respond.

Three Common Recruiting Mistakes to Avoid

Three Common Recruiting Mistakes to Avoid

At a time when so many people are looking for opportunities, one would think that it should be relatively easy to find great sales agents.  But it’s not as easy as it seems.  In fact, there are three mistakes many of us are prone to make in selecting new agents which can cause a cascade of problems – for the team, for the company, for your business, and for the new agent.

The three mistakes are 1) choosing someone because they are “hungry” for an opportunity, 2) choosing someone because you “like” them, and 3) choosing someone who’s “running from” something rather than “running towards” something.  Let me explain these mistakes in more detail.

Choosing Someone Because They’re “Hungry”

It’s tempting to select someone who’s “hungry”.  It would seem logical that a candidate who is anxious for an opportunity would be the perfect person.  They’d work hard, be conscientious, and push through any adversity they might face.

But it doesn’t work that way.  You see, often the person who’s eager for an opportunity is really just desperate for cash flow, and will jump at any means to generate income.  That is…  until the job they really want comes along.  Just because they’re willing to latch onto a way to make money doesn’t mean that it’s the opportunity they really want.

Nor does it mean they’re even qualified to get the job done.  It’s enough of a challenge succeeding when an agent has the skills and abilities necessary for their profession, but putting someone in that position who lacks those skills is unfair to them, to your team, and to you.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you find someone with the skills needed for success AND they’re hungry for that success, you may very well have a superstar in the making.  It’s just that simply being eager for an opportunity is insufficient cause to bring someone onto your team.

A good way to stay objective in this process is to make a list of the traits necessary for success in your opportunity.  Then, as you interview someone, have this list of required traits in front of you so you can literally or mentally check them off.  It will keep you from choosing someone for the wrong reasons.

Choosing Someone Because You “Like” Them

We all have a tendency to be drawn to people we like, which is a good thing. The problem arises when we allow our feelings about a person to override our better judgment. Please understand, I’m not talking about ignoring your “gut” feeling about someone (or some “thing” for that matter). No. I’m speaking about making a decision to bring someone onto your team because there is something about them you “like”.

It might be the way they dress or their manner of speaking. It may be that they remind you of someone else or that you find them attractive. The point is that none of those factors will affect their ability to succeed. None of those things will serve them well without additionally having the traits and skills you know they need to succeed. The challenge is to keep the feeling of “liking them” from clouding your judgment.

Many of the traits or qualities they possess may very well help them in their profession, but those qualities by themselves are an insufficient reason to recruit them. By referring back to that list of required traits you developed, you can stay objective in your decision-making.

Choosing Someone Who’s “Running From” Something

This recruiting mistake is a bit more subtle than the other two, but making it yields the same results – a failed sales agent. First, let’s define what we’re talking about and then we’ll discuss how to determine whether the issue exists. A definite distinction exists between someone who’s “running from” something and one who’s “running toward” something.

Someone who’s running from something often has had a bad experience where they are or were. Maybe they had a run in with their boss, or they’re tired of traveling, or they got laid off… yet again. Maybe they simply feel unappreciated where they are. The point is that none of these reasons has anything to do with your opportunity. They’re all about what they DON’T want as opposed to what they DO want.

Here’s some advice about how to uncover whether they are running from or running towards something. If you ask them what they’re looking for in an opportunity and their answers are what they don’t want, then they’re running from instead of running to. Let me give you some examples. If they answer, “I want to be appreciated for my work,” and being unappreciated was a past issue for them, then they’re running from. If they answer that they don’t want to answer to a boss, then they’re running from. If they answer that they want an opportunity where they don’t have to travel, then they’re running from.

Basically, they’re telling you what they don’t want. Often the reality is that they really don’t know what they want as much as they know what they don’t want. They’re most often suffering from “the grass is always greener” syndrome, and don’t have an appreciation for the realities of your opportunity.

Obviously it’s critical to discern whether you’re dealing with someone who’s looking for the right opportunity or someone who’s simply dissatisfied with their latest situation. The way to accomplish that is to become a good listener, learn to ask good questions, and practice discovering a person’s motivations. As you improve your listening and question-asking abilities, you’ll learn to quickly uncover what’s really going on with a candidate.

Once you avoid these three common mistakes, you’ll improve both the quality of your team and the level of their production.