The biggest mistakes remote sales teams are making in 2020

Sales as a function is looking incredibly different in 2020. This tumultuous year has greatly accelerated digital transformation in the workplace and changed the way sales teams are able to sell. With a second lockdown in the UK and the return to working from home for businesses, sales teams have had to navigate the remote landscape - with varying degrees of success. 

These are the biggest mistakes that remote sales teams are making this year:

Digital mistakes

The first, and possibly most crucial, area of mistakes is happening in the digital setup itself. Since many businesses have had to push forward their digital strategies, many have been left scrambling to get solutions in place. This has led to some of them coming out of the gate unprepared for what it takes to go digital.


A hugely disruptive area that some teams still don’t have right is their software. Ensuring that your teams have the right tools in place is key. Beyond providing them with video conferencing platforms and web cams, businesses need to think about how their sales teams are doing the job of identifying and following up on leads.

Key software that many teams are still missing? An integrated and remotely accessible CRM, cloud-based collaboration tools and simplified meeting setting tools.


With more and more time spent online, sales teams have begun utilising social media as sales platforms with renewed gusto. For B2B sales, no channel stands out more than LinkedIn. As a networking site, LinkedIn is one of the more successful options. However, as a sales platform it can be lacking.

Many teams are trying to actively sell and pitch on LinkedIn, rather than using it to form connections. Unlike other sales platforms, this is a social channel first and it needs to be treated that way. Instead of going in for the hard sell, aim for your teams to look to kick off conversations and get their network engaging with the posts and messages they send out instead. 

This may not be the fastest route to a sale, but it is where a lot of the foundations of a successful business relationship can be made.

Sales Enablement

The tools of the trade go beyond having the right software and hardware for the job. Successful sales teams have also long been using content and collateral to reduce friction and gain more traction with their prospects. 

How these have been affected by the turbulence of this year varies, but one thing is clear: your sales team needs to have these tools in a way that they can use. Consider what your teams use to make successful sales - have these tools made the transition to the digital world?

Here are some of the sales enablement tools your team might need:

  • Persona documents - Have these been created in an easy-to-access, digital way? Where are they stored?
  • Sales playbooks - The scripts that your team are using now have likely had to adapt, but how much of that has been recorded? Does it take video calling into account?
  • Product cheat sheets - These handy reference points are used by many sales teams throughout the UK. Are there digital copies available? Have they been updated to reflect your business’ current capabilities and focuses?

Read more: Keep selling - focusing on customers during uncertain times

Video conferencing mistakes

Of course, with platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams taking centre stage in this remote era, the benefits have come with a swath of new pitfalls. Aside from the general do’s and don’ts of video conferencing, selling over these channels takes a unique touch and not all teams have made the transition successfully.

Read more: Video conferencing etiquette - Don’t get caught with your pants down

While making sure you take video call best practice into consideration is important, there are other considerations that sales teams in particular should take into account:

  • Default to video - With face-to-face meetings being relegated to the digital world, knowing when to use video can feel like a minefield. Most sales professionals say that they follow the lead of whoever they are meeting.

    Although this may feel polite, it takes away from one of a sales person’s greatest assets: themselves! Presenting yourself in a professional and focused visual manner helps to create that human connection that many sales people feel like they are missing at the moment.

    It’s also a lot more engaging and will keep your prospect interested.
  • Get more out of your invite - When you send a calendar invite to a prospect or lead, you probably leave the title and internal text quite simple and tame.

    Though there’s nothing inherently wrong or off putting about this, you are wasting valuable space. Instead, use that area to show value and highlight the main customer pain point you’ll be addressing. This keeps the prospect interested and reminds them why meeting with you is important.

    Another helpful tip is to include a meeting agenda with key points so that your lead knows what to expect.

Culture Mistakes

The last big mistake that some sales teams are facing is one of culture. 2020 has spun a lot of businesses on their heads and pivoting from business-as-usual to fully remote has been a more difficult change for some. Although the above issues are certainly a part of that, a company’s culture also plays heavily into it.

In particular, there are two areas where sales teams are struggling the most with their culture: upskilling and wellbeing.

Switching to digital isn’t easy for everyone. Many sales people have been using the same processes and tools for a long time, which means adapting to something new can be tricky. If this is the case with anyone on your team, taking the time (and occasionally budget) to upskill them on their new tools is worthwhile. It will help remove friction and can accelerate sales growth.

Read more: The 4 pillars of digital transformation - People

In addition to enhancing your team’s skills, it’s important to consider their wellbeing. This has been a difficult year for many in the UK. Your team members may be fine at work, but home could be a different story. 

Although this is always true, 2020 has made that especially relevant. Between the likelihood that someone they are close to has suffered effects from the pandemic and the chance that someone in their household has lost or reduced wages, the stressors can really add up. For leaders, it’s vital that you put measures in place to take care of your team.

Learn more: Podcast #9 - Workplace Wellbeing with Sean Reid

The times are changing and sales teams need to change with them. If your teams are making any of these common mistakes, recognising them and taking action is key!

If you want to talk about managing a remote sales team, get in touch. We are dedicated to helping teams achieve their potential and grow.

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