The lasting impact of leading and managing our remote or blended teams is still unravelling. Most of everything we knew before has gone, and the way we work has changed forever. Understandably, leaders are becoming even more uncertain about the future, especially now that some companies are returning their teams to the office with adaptations such as smaller groups, hybrid situations and work-from-home policies that are likely to continue indefinitely. Therefore, this situation only adds an extra layer of complexity to how sales teams continue to adapt to communicating remotely.
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The communication challenges of managing remote sales teams
Remote working is still evolving, so communicating across time zones with multiple team members poses a new set of challenges.
Be honest – how overwhelmed or frustrated do you feel when searching through multiple platforms or threads to find critical information from past discussions? We communicate with our remote teams in so many different ways these days; whether that be text messages, emails, social media chats -it’s easy to forget where the conversation happened. Ultimately this means that valuable information gets lost and ends up missing significant opportunities.
Think about it, what is missing from emails, texts, shared documents and notes? Body language. Therefore the exact thing that gives context to a conversation is completely missing with asynchronous communication. Unfortunately, this leads to miscommunications, mistakes, and sometimes, you can come off as offensive if you’re not careful.
Now that blended teams are becoming more commonplace, remote teams often comprise members thousands of miles away from each other. Therefore timezones can either work like a charm for your organisation or wreak havoc depending on how well organised your process is. Most companies find that having members in several time zones is beneficial, as they have someone working at every point in the day.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Before the global implications of Covid19, communication was a whole lot easier. It was dynamic, spontaneous, and impromptu. Quick brainstorming meetings were the norm, but now we usually have to schedule a zoom meeting to talk to people. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
After being forced out of synchronicity during the pandemic, many sales teams experienced leaving our busy schedules and calendars behind. Now, many have realised we don’t need to be physically or virtually in the same place at the same time to be effective.
Do you remember stepping out of a meeting or putting the phone down and thinking, “couldn’t that have just been an e-mail?” Asynchronous communication is (also known as async) exactly that. Or, in other words – the act of communicating and developing projects forward without anyone needing to be available at the time of communications.
What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication?
In contrast to synchronous communications, asynchronous communications do not occur at the same time. Therefore, async is a type of “on-demand communication” that allows the recipient to choose the best time to interact with the content. As such, async communication is messages in the format of audio, voicemail, text, or video.
The sales and marketing process is complex, and because there is a ton going on, asynchronicity is becoming increasingly essential to the sales process, particularly in technology and software sales.
Benefits of async for managing remote sales teams
As it turns out, remote employees are often happier than their in-person counterparts because they rely on asynchronous communication. With much more control over when, how and why they communicate, remote teams benefit from fewer distractions and increased morale. Furthermore, the benefits of asynchronous communication include:
Time to process = better responses
The most significant benefit of async communication is that it allows time for the recipient to understand, digest and formulate a considered response. In comparison, synchronous communication demands an immediate answer, which can often be subpar. For this reason, people often panic and answer with the first thing that comes to mind, making communications inaccurate and unproductive.
Documentation is standard process
Another critical aspect of sync communication is that it ensures you’re consistently producing a record of communication. Why’s this important? The information you store is easy to search, share, and reference at your leisure. More so, with synchronous communication, you’re left to rely on memory alone, which can take our attention away from the situation at hand.
Many of us check our phone notifications first thing in the morning and last thing at night. So it’s fair to say that with advancing technology, software and social media, we live in a culture of “always being on”. However, it’s widely known that you get to decide when to check your messages with asynchronous communication. Therefore employees regain control over their focus, meaning they’re not spending precious work time responding to communications. Which ultimately produces happier, efficient and more productive employees.
Remote Working best practices
The benefits of adopting or even just slightly incorporating good asynchronous communication practices are pretty clear-cut. So below, we’ve provided you with the best ways to ensure you’re leading your team effectively when using async communication.
1. Over communicate
Without body language, it’s much easier to miscommunicate or misinterpret the meaning or tone behind async communications. Therefore, it helps to create clear processes such as over-communicating your intention instead of not saying much at all.
4 aspects of effective asynchronous messaging
- Provide all of the relevant information the recipient needs, particularly those that answer potential follow up questions.
- A clear deadline for the recipients’ response.
- Supporting material such as videos, images, voice recordings or documents.
- A clear need, for instance, what do you want from your recipient; approval, complete assets or information?
2. Be clear in your expectations
To maintain transparency and be clear in communicating your expectations, you should always provide information up-front. As in, send all of the relevant information at once. That way, you won’t leave a colleague hanging. Better yet? You will keep your communications tidy and organised, making it easier to refer back to important points. Furthermore, you need to set clear expectations such as deadlines, whether that’s morning, afternoon, or evening, to review progress consistently.
3. Record important information
With async communication, it’s critical to establish a standard for documentation of all forms of communication. Without one, your team will produce a ton of unorganised textual noise. Therefore, having a dedicated tool that allows you to store all of this, such as Slack, will help avoid unhelpful silos of information from forming.
4. Send instructional videos
Sending quick instructional videos from your desktop or perspective is a great way to provide vital information in an accessible way. Not only does it give so much more flexibility, but it allows colleagues to watch the video as many times as they need. Furthermore, they also have the option to reference it again later.
5. Utilise screenshots
One of the best methods of using async communication to provide instant feedback or important information is to take a screenshot, annotate if necessary and send it over in a messaging application. Try to reduce the amount of text and wordy messages you send over – remember, someone has to read it on the other side. So you want to be concise in your communication.
Common examples of async communication
- Pre-recorded Video
- Documents (Dropbox, G Suite)
- Content (Blogs, Articles, Videos, Podcasts, Playbooks, Recorded Meetings)
- Messaging (Slack, WhatsApp)
Asynchronous Learning Vs. Synchronous Learning
Asynchronous Learning refers to a student-centred teaching method that is primarily for online teaching. It’s based upon the same idea as asynchronous communication – that students’ learning can happen at any time and space specific to their needs. This “on-demand” learning method allows for greater flexibility, and teachers usually set a learning path for learners to engage with as they please.
In comparison, synchronous learning refers to learning that requires interaction – usually by discussion. This type of learning can happen in person or online. However, all learners must be present and engaging. For this reason, synchronous learners will follow the same educational path, supported by a teacher, to complete certain activities and tasks.
Why asynchronous learning is better
There are many benefits to both synchronous and asynchronous learning styles that benefit both the teacher and learner. However, asynchronous learning is becoming more popular with the growing number of remote workers than ever before. Discover why below:
- Tech’ issues and troubleshooting: Technology issues such as malfunctioning microphones, cameras or screen-sharing capabilities waste precious time that students can use more productively.
- Access to data: Unfortunately, internet data still isn’t as accessible as it could be for everyone. Streaming video for online meetings uses a significant amount of data and requires a fast internet connection. What’s more, slow internet speeds can derail and distract learners from live discussions.
- Improved time management: The learner can understand most course content in their own time; however, regular synchronous check-ins and meet-ups are still critical.
Losing productivity when managing remote sales teams?
It’s understandable with the way the crisis has fundamentally changed the way people live, work and do business.
With the growing number of remote workers, many leaders and companies are scrambling to adapt to how their teams work from home and how managers can lead remotely.
Take the guesswork out and join our Managing Virtually program to gain the skills needed to avoid common pitfalls when managing remote teams, motivate your sales team and communicate effectively – all of the time.