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Conference Calls: Building Remote Sales Teams
By Linda Richardson, CEO, Richardson

Phone meetings are a helpful, effective way to connect people and share best practices.

Scheduled Conference Calls

Telephone conference calls are rated by sales team members as being almost as effective as face-to-face sales team meetings, but are much more convenient.  Conference calls can not only let you disseminate information, they can also be used to coach and develop people.  They can serve as a "virtual water cooler" for building the team vs. training a group of remote individuals.  Use telephone conference calls to share information, develop skills and strategies, and build your team.

To help maximize conference calls:
  • Set a consistent / agreed-upon time.
  • Use an agenda.  Ask team members for their ideas before the meeting as to topics on the agenda.
  • Don't over pack the agenda.  Assign a time to each item and use the agenda to move things along.
  • Begin by quickly reviewing the agenda and checking for agreement.
  • Distribute any materials to all participants before the call.
  • In advance, assign topics to team members.  Better yet, ask for volunteers.
  • Rotate responsibility for five-minute presentations among team members as a way to create peer coaching and recognize achievement.
  • Include Best Practices as an agenda item of every meeting and use it to spotlight exceptional performance and share ideas.
  • Make the conference call interactive.  Ask vs. tell.  Ask how others feel about what a team member volunteers before giving your view, adding value, or tying it all together.
  • Make sure there is an action step with clear accountability and a time frame for every agenda item so that the meetings are not viewed as a waste of time.
  • Ask one team member to take notes on the decisions, action steps, who is accountable, and time frame for every agenda item, and read those notes at the end of the meeting.
  • Keep your name off the list.  Your job is to follow up.
  • Rotate who takes decision minutes.
  • At the end of the meeting
  • Ask for ideas for topics to include in the next agenda
  • Ask for feedback from the team on strengths and areas for improvement for future conference call meetings
  • Follow up on decision minutes.
Conference calls can't replace face-to-face contact, but they are a convenient and practical way to connect with team members and connect the team.

The only downside is the need to coordinate schedules and the emergencies that arise that can cause people to miss the phone calls.  The way to maximize the benefits and manage the downside is for you to be the role model - be prepared, do not cancel, start and end on time, use every minute to help your people succeed, and ask for feedback on how to make the conference call team meeting even better.

Phone meetings are a helpful, effective way to connect people and share best practices.  Moreover, they are likely to turn a group of remote salespeople into a team.

Linda Richardson, founder and CEO, of Richardson a global sales training company, author of nine best selling sales books, and faculty member at the Wharton School, is the driving force behind the Richardson sales curriculum. visit or call 215.940.9255.

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