Biggest challenge of leading a remote sales team

We recently asked our audience of just under 500 sales leaders: “What’s the biggest challenge that you’re facing leading remote sales team?” They told us that it was keeping their teams engaged and motivated.

In this post, we’re going to share some tips on how to overcome this challenge. In order to this, we’re going to borrow very heavily from a book called ‘Drive’ by Dan Pink. In his book, Pink talks about something called ‘intrinsic motivation’. Intrinsic motivation is what we all want our sales people to have right now- It’s where they wake up knowing what they have to do and attack the day. Not because they’ve been told to, but because they want to. Pink says that intrinsic motivation is born out of three elements:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

So let’s work through each of these and discuss some of the common mistakes that sales leaders can make and also share some tips.


Autonomy is the feeling that we are in charge of our own lives. The common mistake here is for sales leaders to turn into real micromanagers. That’s not a good thing to do. It breaks down trust between the leader and the team and it can tip over into management by fear. That style might drive short term,

but, ultimately it’s going to lead to a team who are lacking any kind of enthusiasm and passion. It’s will breed resentment and ultimately your customers will feel it. (Plus, you really don’t want to be that person right now).

So rather than that, create very clear goals communicate with your team and then check in a couple of times a day.  If those goals aren’t being achieved then we need to deal with that in the normal way.


Mastery is the feeling that we’re getting better and that we’re learning. The big mistake here is that during these times, coaching and a focus on learning goes out the window.

We would recommend the exact opposite. Make learning and personal development a much bigger part of your team culture right now. Get your team to find out what is and what isn’t working in the marketplace. Encourage them to speak to other parts of your business and learn about your clients and your client’s customers. Get them to share what they’ve learnt with the wider team. This is the kind of stuff that can be done over a beer on a zoom call on a Friday afternoon.


This is the idea that we’re doing what we’re doing for a cause that’s bigger than ourselves. The mistake here is for the sales leader to pretend that nothing has changed. Everything has changed and your sales people know it.

Now is the time to outline what your new purpose is as a sales team. That could be about helping your customers come out of this crisis in the strongest position possible.

To summarise, if you’re finding it hard to keep your remote sales team engaged and motivated during this extraordinary time, concentrate on these three things: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

For more essential sales tips take a look at our You Tube channel

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