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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 teams?”

Their answer: keeping their teams engaged and motivated.

In this post, we’re going to share some tips on how to lead a remote sales team with overcoming this challenge top of mind.

We are big fans of a book called ‘Drive’ by Dan Pink. In it, he talks about something called ‘intrinsic motivation’.

Intrinsic motivation is what we all want our salespeople to have right now – it’s where they wake up knowing what they must do to attack the day. Not because they’ve been told to, but because they want to. Pink says intrinsic motivation is born out of three elements, all of which sales leaders can drive:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

So, let’s discuss how to lead a remote sales team using these ideas.


Autonomy is the feeling that we shape our own lives. The common mistake in a remote selling environment is for sales leaders to turn into real micromanagers. But this breaks down trust and it can tip over into management by fear. That style might be effective in the short term but, ultimately, it’s going to lead to a team who are lacking enthusiasm or passion. It could even breed resentment that your customers start to feel.

Instead, create very clear goals for your team, communicate to them and then check in a couple of times a day. Involve your team in the creation of these goals to increase buy-in. 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 sales leaders make is letting learning and coaching fall by the wayside.

We recommend doing 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 industry. Encourage them to speak to other parts of your business, especially those with a focus on delivering results for your clients. Promote the benefit of learning not just about your clients but also about your client’s customers. Get your team sharing what they’ve learnt with each other.

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 working towards something that’s bigger than ourselves. The mistake here is for the sales leader to pretend that nothing has changed. Everything has changed and your salespeople know it.

Now is the time to outline what your new purpose is as a sales team. It could be about helping your customers thrive in the new normal. Or it could be to learn, share and be more valuable to your clients.

Leading a remote sales team is challenging. Make it easier by driving these three levers of intrinsic motivation:

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.


Gain insight into what today’s buyers want from remote salespeople and learn how to run high impact remote sales meetings through this course.


For more essential sales tips on leading remote sales teams, take a look at our YouTube channel.