Managing a remote sales team for your Ag business involves a different approach than managing that team in the office. Some would argue that managing a sales team remotely is easier while others would say it is much more difficult. One thing is certain: Remote management requires a shift in mindset.
Since most salespeople across all industries – including Ag – are now working remotely, sales managers must resist the temptation to micromanage. While this can be a challenge, it is important to meet this challenge head on. The key is to strike just the right balance between supervision and trust. At US Farm Data, we have come up with four tips to help you do just that:
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. As the sales manager, you need to let your team know how often they should report to you. Whether it be once a day, once a week or when certain milestones are reached, you must be clear. In the same way, when assigning projects, be sure to communicate exactly what you need so that no salesperson is left guessing. When expectations are not clearly laid out, it causes stress for you and your sales team.
- Give Them Ownership. Unless a salesperson is not meeting their goals, give them as much autonomy as possible. There is nothing more empowering for remote workers than to know that they are trusted to get the job done. Likewise, if they feel you don’t trust them, motivation can take a hit.
- Avoid Random Check-Ins. When you check in without warning or too often, it disrupts the workflow of your sales team. It also gives the impression that you don’t think they can get the job done. Let your Ag sales team know well in advance when and why you will be touching base. And ditch the cryptic emails that you need to talk. Tell them exactly why you want to talk to them or they may unnecessarily worry that you have bad news.
- Remember One-Size-Does-Not-Fill-All. Seasoned salespeople who have consistently performed well are fine on their own. New employees just learning the ropes will probably appreciate some extra coaching. Knowing what works for each individual member of your sales team will help you to bring out each team member’s best.
Managing your Ag sales team from afar requires a more fluid approach than managing that team in the office. However, the goal remains the same: Empowering your team to meet their goals and do their best work no matter where they work.