Before I started working remotely, I was slightly uneasy.
I was worried about not being productive, feeling isolated, and not having a good space to work from.
It turns out, these fears weren't unique.
In fact, according to HubSpot's 2019 Remote Work Report, communication with co-workers, feelings of loneliness, and overworking are challenges that remote workers face daily.
And if you work in sales, it can be even harder.
If you're new to remote work, you might find yourself feeling stir crazy as you acclimate to your new surroundings.
However, the transition doesn't have to be difficult.
Below, we've gathered the top tips from HubSpot's remote salesforce. Plus, we review best practices for managing a group of remote sales employees.
8 Tips for Remote Sales Reps
1. Maintain a routine.
When I first started working remotely, I didn't build a routine. I'd start at different times every day, and usually work late into the night because it was hard to shut off since there was no boundary between work and home.
However, that schedule wasn't sustainable. In fact, I started to feel burned out because I was working too many hours.
Anya Taschner, an SMB Account Executive at HubSpot, says "There's this weird social pull to prove that you're actually doing your job. It goes without saying that you should have a start time in the morning, the same way you would in the office, but it is equally important to have a consistent finish time. In some ways, you are your own boss when you're remote. Get an accountability buddy if you need, but make peace putting in 100%, without having to prove you're doing your job."
Since you don't have societal lunch breaks at home, you have to create your own routine and be rigid about it. For example, get up, get ready, make breakfast, and have start and break times scheduled in advance.
Don't let the line between work and home get blurred. To make this easier, try using your calendar to block off time when you're going to take lunch. Need more tips on how to set and keep a good routine? Check out the tips in this video:
2. Have a designated workspace that is non-negotiable.
Not to reiterate, but as a remote employee, the boundary between work and home is blurred. That's why you should have a designated workspace.
Whether that's a separate office, or the kitchen table, maintaining a designated workspace can help create the boundary between work and home.
This should help you maintain focus and detach at the end of the day.
Parsa Rashidinia, a Channel Account Executive at HubSpot, says "My biggest tip to someone starting a remote sales role is to invest in your workspace before you start. If you have a space, make sure to give it some love. I painted my entire office, invested in a sit/stand desk, a Herman Miller chair, a large monitor, lamps, plants, acoustic tiles, etc. You will spend many many hours in this space so it's important to be comfortable and also excited to start your day every morning when you walk into your office."
However, if you don't have a separate space, even putting everything away at night and taking it out in the morning can help create the boundary between work and home.
3. Take breaks.
Typically, working at home means you'll have less distractions.
While this might lead to greater productivity, it can actually make it harder to take a break.
Katie Carlin, a Channel Account Manager at HubSpot, says "At home, you don't have the built-in break you might have throughout a day in the office. Friends are not stopping by asking to grab coffee and it's unlikely someone from another department is showing up at your desk asking if you have a few minutes to help with something. I typically block off time throughout the day to go for a walk, run, or walk down the street for a yoga class. These breaks make me much more mindful of how I'm spending my time and energy throughout the day."
It can be easy to get stuck in the trap of skipping breaks or working through lunch.
However, this is a quick way to feel burned out in your role. That's why you need to remember to take breaks and recharge your energy.
4. Be social.
One of the fears of remote work is the feeling of isolation.
To combat this, remember to be social during your day. You can still network and chat with colleagues while you're home.
Reena Chadha, an Enterprise Territory Manager at HubSpot, says "I used to think of this as a time waster, but since I've changed the lens to a networking one, I take it more seriously."
Even just reaching out on Zoom, and scheduling video chats and virtual coffees can help you feel connected to your team.
Gary Parker, an Enterprise Account Executive at HubSpot, says to "talk regularly with your coworkers. Give them a call! It's okay."
In fact, Kim Lindgren, a Channel Account Manager at HubSpot, says "I wish I was told to collaborate and book time with other people within the organization to learn best practices, collaborate and grow. Reach out to people that are also in other roles and find out what is important and what drives them to have empathy. If you don't, you'll feel isolated and may misunderstand each other at times."
On the other hand, if you don't have time for a video chat, even sending a Slack or message to chat can be helpful.
5. Send your schedule to any roommates or partners in your house.
Another struggle you might face working from home, is that you might have roommates, partners, kids, or pets in the house.
When this happens, it can be easy to get distracted. Plus, if they're also working from home, it can be hard to coordinate.
If that's the case, communication is vital.
Make sure you send your schedule to everyone in your house so you can plan who will be working in what spaces. For example, perhaps you want to work in the office, and your roommate will work in the living room.
Additionally, let each other know when your meetings are, so your family isn't making too much noise when you're on a call.
Eamonn Doheny, a Channel Account Manager at HubSpot, says "I have strict instructions that no one is to enter my workspace. And I try to find a room that has the least traffic."
When Chloe Christiansen, an Inbound Success Coach at HubSpot, started remote work, she spoke to her partner. "To find balance, we both agreed I would work from my office when he was home or go and work from a coffee shop. We also agreed he would keep the noise level low while I was working in order for me to be able to concentrate and limit distractions."
6. Reach out fast.
When you work remotely, you still have to deal with the regular stressors of your job.
For example, maybe you were assigned something out of your wheelhouse, or a certain client is stressing you out.
When that happens, don't be afraid to speak up.
Although it can be hard to reach out when you need help, you should tell your manager or team as soon as possible. Then, you can get the help and support you need.
Gary Parker, an Enterprise Account Executive, says to have consistent weekly meetings and use video chat to make the most out of your communication.
7. Dress for success.
Although it can be tempting to work in your leisure wear, it's not a great idea. The way you dress can greatly impact your mood.
Rachael Plummer, a sales manager at HubSpot, says "Get ready for the day. Get up, get showered and dressed just like you're going to the office. It makes a huge difference in productivity for me. Putting on comfy clothes makes it way too easy for me to lose motivation."
8. Be organized.
Another pitfall of remote work is that it can be hard to manage your own time and stay organized. That's why you should use your calendar to block off time to complete important tasks.
Zachary Stearns, an Inbound Growth Specialist at HubSpot, says "I recommend a strong focus on both daily organization, and managing your sales process. Sounds simple, but at HubSpot we have so many data points coming in at all times, blocking off chunks of time for specific tasks (prospecting, sourcing, follow up, etc) and sticking to them has helped me stay on task."
To continually advance your deals, it's important to stay diligent with your tasks, whether you're setting up next-step dates, qualifying questions, or understanding buying expectations.
How to Manage Remote Sales Reps
Similarly to working in remote sales, managing a team of remote sales reps isn't easy.
That's why I spoke with Matt Hambor, a Corporate Sales Manager at HubSpot, who manages eight remote sales reps.
Here are the top tips for managing a remote sales team:
1. Calendar management is key.
Managing remote reps is time consuming. There is intrinsic value that in-office reps get on the sales floor. They can overhear reps on sales calls and pick up sound bites quicker.
As a remote manager, training and enablement take up extensive time. To combat this, leverage other tenure reps on the team to mentor the newly hired ramping reps.
Plus, you should make yourself available as much as possible. Although the days can be long, especially if you manage reps in several time zones, calendar management is key.
Additionally, running each meeting with a structured agenda can help make each meeting as productive as possible.
2. Make time for team get-togethers.
Remote reps don't have the opportunity to go out to lunch with their teammates, or go out for dinner/drinks after work.
That's why, last year, Matt's team took a trip to Atlanta.
He says, "We rented a house for two nights. One of the days we went through every rep's semi-annual business review and the other day we spent on the golf course and at the pool. The team really came together after that trip. It was a totally different dynamic leaving Atlanta than it was when we got there. Many reps on my team shook hands and physically met in person for the first time on that trip. I would highly recommend remote teams get together as an entire team once a quarter."
3. Build a remote friendly culture.
As a manager, you should try to enable your reps to collaborate together and get to know each other.
Perhaps you can dedicate a portion of your weekly team meeting to highlight a win story, like Matt does. That rep can then discuss the win (big deal closed, new opportunity created, great in person meeting or presentation, etc.) and shares a "hack" with the rest of the team.
Additionally, you can also run weekly happy hours on Zoom. These meetings will have no agenda, and your team can just talk for an hour. This helps them open up and get to know one another.
4. Don't forget about enablement, training and collaboration.
Once a month, Matt's team runs an hour long call review meeting. The team is split into groups and they review a discovery call that one rep from each group comes to the meeting with. They discuss the call, and jot down a takeaway on a shared PowerPoint deck.
Then, the team reconvenes as a group for the last 10-15 minutes, and each team shares their takeaway with the greater group.
This is a great way to run remote friendly enablement and training exercises. Plus, it gives your team the opportunity to collaborate.
Although it can be intimidating when you or your team have to work remotely, it doesn't have to be a difficult transition. In fact, you can still collaborate, grow, and connect as a group with remote sales reps.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.