Collaborating With Strangers—Managing Your Virtual Sales Force

facetofaceHow can your sales team work together when they don’t even know each other?

Yahoo recently ordered all of its virtual workers back to the office. Why is this technology giant prioritizing face-to-face interaction? Because recent studies show that while remote workers are significantly more productive, they’re not nearly as innovative or collaborative.

We certainly want our sales teams to be productive, but innovation and collaboration are also important. Sure, you can schedule video meetings and teleconferences. But as David Radcliffe—a civil engineer at Google—puts it, “You can’t schedule innovation.”

Game-changing ideas and strategies usually come from bumping into someone in the hallway or other impromptu conversations—and there’s no virtual water cooler around which your remote team can gather to brainstorm new ideas and collaborate to achieve them.

Yes, collaborate. We can think up one great idea after another and develop innovative strategies. But if we don’t have cohesive teams with whom we can collaborate and bring ideas to fruition, why bother?

Collaborating With Strangers?

Collaboration is the word of this decade, according to a 2011 report from CSO Insights. As business continues to move at an ever-increasing speed, successful sales teams are no longer made up of lone wolves. Teams who willingly share information and ideas, and who work together, can bring in bigger deals than any individual can. But when your salespeople have never been in the same room, it’s hard to develop the key relationships that enable effective collaboration.

Get the Gang Together

I have a virtual team. But I get everyone together in person at least twice a year. We strategize about everything from prospecting, to marketing, to how to add more value to our clients. We laugh and even argue. And more importantly, we get to know each other without all the technological barriers—so that we’re not working with strangers. We’re working with people we like and respect. And that’s the key to collaboration.

Comment Here

Do you have a virtual sales team? If so, how do you keep them connected? What strategies and technology platforms do you have in place to foster an environment of collaboration?

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