It might come as a surprise that both employees and employers agree on the benefits of remote work.
In fact, 85% of them claim that productivity has increased in their company thanks to greater flexibility, and 65% of employees say they are more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace (thanks to fewer distractions and interruptions, stress from commuting, and minimal office politics).
What these statistics fail to reveal, however, is that not all remote work setups are created equal. In fact, it can be challenging for certain specialists, most notably those in sales.
In this post, we’ll go over what makes a great remote sales team, and how to leverage the right CRM tool to ensure you can maintain productivity without being in the field or on-site.
Why sales can be harder to make from a home office
If you’ve ever been a sales rep working far from business headquarters, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of the challenges remote workers face. But everything becomes magnified when the team is split into individual home offices:
- Social isolation: salespeople tend to be gregarious by nature, which means a lack of face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities can feel demoralising. And while there is no shortage of channels to use to share information (email, Zoom, Skype, internal communication tools), it does mean that there is an increase in….
- Communication issues: sometimes, having too many communication channels actually has the effect of making it harder to get your message across. Some messages get lost in translation, and others get ignored when they’re in email form rather than a quick face-to-face call.
- Siloed data: One of the key challenges in sales is getting information that is relevant to you. This is true whether you’re working in a large organisation, or with a small team where information doesn’t flow openly. Have you got access to the right customer data? Have there been support tickets you should know about relevant to this account? While a quick walk across to the other department could answer some questions in a shared office setup, it becomes more challenging to get the right data remotely.
- Task Management: it’s always difficult to juggle the tasks of tweaking your sales funnel, nurturing leads and closing deals. This becomes even more challenging when your customer information is scattered between multiple team member’s remote offices.
Luckily, you’ll find most of these challenges can be solved by using the right CRM tool.
CRM for sales: key numbers every business should know
CRM tools have been widely adopted by sales teams for some time now, which is why you’ll find there is no shortage of statistics proving its benefits. Here is a handful of the most noteworthy:
- According to Nucleus Research, every dollar spent on a CRM tool brings $8.71 return on that investment. That’s a 771% ROI!
- Effective sales organisations are 81% more likely to use a CRM regularly, according to the Aberdeen Group.
- Software Advice calculated that 74% of CRM users believed they gained improved access to customer data
- From the same study, 81% of CRM users access their tool from multiple devices, including laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets.
- When it comes to contact and account management, the satisfaction of CRM users is set at a high 88%, according to G2’s CRM Software Research.
Now, of course, all these numbers point towards using CRM tools for sales. But what about remote teams? This is where you need to look at cloud-based solutions.
The 5 steps to boosting sales with cloud-based CRM tools
Cloud-based apps are what enable remote work. They make businesses flexible and scalable, lower the costs of IT and computing equipment, and allow salespeople to work from anywhere. But these apps, and CRM in particular, are only as efficient as the people who use them.
1. Ensure the CRM records all interactions
This first step is about avoiding silos and improving collaboration. Sharing customer data in real-time in the CRM means your info is up to date, fresh, and doesn’t contain errors. Every sales rep can update the info, and leave a quick note to explain when they got access to it, to ensure everyone is clear on where the new data comes from.
This is particularly useful for cross-functional collaboration within large teams. Keeping all the data in one place means any staff member can pick up where the other left off, which helps with task management, organizing holidays, dealing with illnesses, and speed up onboarding of new staff members.
It’s also easier to boost cooperation between, say, the sales team and marketing, who all can see the success of a certain campaign. Similarly, it works wonders if you share the CRM with the support team, who will let you know if a prospect has contacted them for more info about one of your products or services.
Why it works: makes your team more flexible, agile, and fosters better collaboration across multiple departments. Gain a complete picture of your relationships with contacts, customers, and vendors.
2. Keep the CRM data secure
Customer records are one of the most valuable assets for sales teams, so it’s primordial that you keep track of their ownership. Here again, keeping that data centralised in your main CRM decreases the potential risk of having it stored on hundreds of devices scattered everywhere.
It’s also useful in terms of data protection compliance. Failing to meet GDPR requirements, for instance, can incur hefty fines. And keeping customer data on various employees’ laptops is the surest way to leak that info. With one CRM, you only need to protect access to the software, and to secure Internet connections.
Why it works: centralize your customer data to make it safer, and to comply with data protection regulations.
3. Leverage all possible integrations
One of the greatest advantages of sharing a CRM across departments is that you all have access to the same tools. This helps understand everyone’s workflows, and unify project management, even what you’re dealing with isn’t customer records.
For instance, Act! CRM lets you connect your CRM with Outlook, which means you can all use the same calendar and scheduling tools. This streamlines management and allows sales reps to clear some headspace dedicated to operating software in order to focus on sales, especially thanks to integrated features like Notes and To-Do Lists.
And of course, let’s not forget to integrate the CRM directly with your website analytics. It will allow you to track prospect and customer web visits, which can help preempt inquiries based on the pages they browsed. This speeds up the process of lead nurturing, by delivering relevant info to your customers faster.
Why it works: simplify management and reduce the amount of software your team needs to use, so they can focus on specific tasks instead of struggling with multiple dashboards.
4. Use the CRM’s pipeline management feature
If you haven’t done so before, establish how you want your sales team to use the pipeline management tool and ensure they follow those guidelines. This improves the effectiveness of your team. For example, if you have guidelines on how to qualify a lead for your target market, reps will find it easier to focus on the right prospects.
Most CRM tools should also have useful features to track the progress in your sales funnel, so you can see who is moving from Lead to Opportunity to Order. Ideal if you need to forecast demand for sourcing products or to make financial projections.
Why it works: reduce the time it takes to create accurate reports by updating all the info in real-time. Boost sales by separating real opportunities based on your guidelines.
5. Manage campaigns and communications directly
Act! CRM was built around the idea that marketing and sales teams can help one another. This is why the email campaign management feature is one that is loved by all departments, as it allows everyone to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of customer communications.
Moreover, you can drip specific messages based on the email recipient’s actions. With a bit of A/B testing, you can quickly create killer campaigns that are automated and bring the right prospects to the sales team quicker. All so they can boost their conversion rates and help you grow your business online.
Why it works: speed up the reporting of your marketing campaigns to see what works and what needs updating. Automate email messages to deliver relevant offers quicker and improve conversions.
As more and more businesses implement flexible or remote work policies, it’s important to ensure your team has access to the right tools. It’s also useful to know what to look for, especially if you want a CRM solution that meets the needs of multiple departments like sales, marketing, and support.
This is why Act! CRM was designed not only with fantastic features for sales reps and sales managers, but also a plethora of integrations that make marketing automation easier than ever: from drip email campaigns to Outlook integrations, it should be all your teams need to improve productivity, even if they’re only sharing info over an Internet connection. Try Act! now free for 14 days.