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How to Be an Effective Sales Leader: Managing Over a Large Area (Part II)

By Star Report 5 min read


Fostering leadership among your new home sales team entails two primary components— building trust and demonstrating integrity. As I begin to dive into why these two practices are of the utmost importance for the strength and success of your team, I will also tackle how to combat the issue my sales team faces: a large geographic distance.

While true for any team, geographic distance presents some unique challenges in effectively executing these two practices.

To view other parts of the article series, please click on the links below.

Building Trust: Engagement, Communication, Reliability

I am the Sales Director for New Home Star’s Oregon I-5 division. With that being said, my sales team stretches along virtually the entire west coast of Oregon which you can see why fostering leadership with this type of sizable geographic distance can present some very unique challenges in building trust and demonstrating integrity. I’ll start with the first component, building trust.

Successfully engaging your team members starts with consistent field visits and frequent phone calls. You can’t build trust via few-and-far-between conversations and rushed exchanges. The bottom line is that you have to be there. In large territories, unforeseen events can disrupt your weekly facetime schedule, but when this happens, don’t cancel your meeting. Go with Plan B, a phone call. Even though it may not be the most favorable option, a meeting via video/phone is better than no meeting.

Engaging team members with each other is important in large regions and helps ensure that each person feels a part of the team rather than feeling isolated. The more a team is together, the more their individual strengths and leadership attributes will emerge, enabling you to foster continuous growth for each team member. Here are some of my best tips for uniting the team:

  • Rotate sales meeting and quarterly team-building activity locations
  • Encourage role-play sessions over the phone among peers
  • Have each team member periodically conduct sales meeting training topics
  • Send one team member to shadow another in a different city within your region

Regarding communication, as our Founder, David Rice says, “be concise, clear and compelling.” To that list, I’ll add you must be a good listener as well. Pay close attention to what is expressed, be concise, clear, and compelling in your responses. This is an excellent professional practice and contributes to time efficiency. When driving long distances, carve out some extra time to pull over to respond to time-sensitive communication, and be sure to inform your team when you will be on the road so they can call you instead of email/texting.

Now, remember, as a Sales Leader, you must communicate what’s happening among your team to each member. Remember to communicate what’s happening among your team: Wins, SAMI activities, community events, etc. Don’t assume each team member knows what the other is doing. Be the communication link between your team and encourage them to reach out to each other.

As for reliability, it’s simple: do what you say you’re going to do as a sales leader. Be responsive. Set time expectations to get answers and accomplish tasks. Account for your travel time when you commit to follow-up timeframes.

As for reliability, it’s simple: do what you say you’re going to do as a sales leader. Be responsive. Set time expectations to get answers and accomplish tasks. Account for your travel time when you commit to follow-up timeframes.

Demonstrating Integrity

As a sales leader, there are many opportunities to coach your sales consultants. In doing so, you must demonstrate the highest level of integrity. When distance is involved, integrity means that you cannot use such distance as an excuse for not being present. If you need to travel 2-1/2 hours for a meeting to coach one of your team members through a difficult customer situation and drive back the same day, then so be it. Lead by example, if you continuously showcase your investment in your people, they will do the same.

In short, letting distance get in the way of your responsibilities will erode your integrity. Implementing time management practices is critical:

  • Manage your time through a calendar. Put meetings, tasks, activities, AND travel time on your calendar to ensure distance does not compromise other important action items. Start with a default calendar of weekly meetings and activities so you can navigate unforeseen events around them as much as possible. This will help you ensure that you have a little bit of flex time built in each week, so you aren’t putting your calendar at full capacity.
  • Time block your tasks and meetings in the interest of efficiency. If you’re planning on driving out to visit someone in your farthest community, block out the entire morning or afternoon for meetings/travel time. Then you’ll be able to commit fully to what your scheduled task me be!
  • Figure out what can be done while driving. The power of Bluetooth makes driving and multitasking safe and more efficient! Return phone calls, listen to work-related audiobooks, or even professional podcasts to pass the time and make a significant dent in your to-do list. There are so many ways that a long commute can be beneficial, it’s just what you make of it with the time and resources you have.

To close, managing a sales team over a vast span of distance comes with many challenges, but how you manage your time and plan proactively for your people is a must in order to have consistent engagement, communication, reliability, and even integrity from each team member. With each mile that separates your team member, you must up your efforts to ensure everyone is always on the same page and involved in one capacity or another. Although geographic dispersity is tough and even impossible to conquer, there are endless ways to combat it!

Originally published Dec 10, 2018 under Explore the latest topics, updated March 7, 2024

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