The events of the past few months certainly had a huge impact on how businesses have been operating. Companies have adapted the work from home setting. And while everyone is gearing up for the new normal, some teams prefer to stay remote for the foreseeable future.
And like other teams that remain remote for the time being, sales managers have to adjust the way they implement coaching sessions for their reps. If you’re one of those who are having a hard time providing effective coaching to your remote team, here are best practices for remote sales coaching.
1. Get comfortable with the technology you will be using for virtual coaching.
Working remotely is a major adjustment for both you and your team members. To ease the transition, create opportunities to become familiar with the tech stack you will be using. Point your team members to learning resources or create your own training sessions to help them learn the basics.
Most people learn how to use technology best by using it. If you’re implementing a new tool, start using it soon so that your team can gain hands-on learning experiences. Do not try to introduce a tool and then not use it for weeks or months.
2. Keep Zoom meetings focused and to the point.
These days, most people are overwhelmed with video conferencing meetings. To maximize the effectiveness of your team meetings, create a tight schedule and stick to it. Remember that for your team members, Zoom meetings can consume just as much bandwidth as a standard in-person meeting.
When holding a virtual meeting, it’s more important than ever to follow general best practices for team meetings. Send everyone a copy of the agenda ahead of time and steer the meeting so that you conclude on schedule. Give your team members other opportunities to virtually socialize. Make it clear that team meetings are for business so that everyone can work efficiently.
3. Formalize your remote sales coaching sessions.
During the normal course of work, you may hold one-on-one meetings with your team members on a regular basis. You should continue doing so when working remotely. Clearly communicate that your meeting will be a coaching session and treat this time seriously. Remove any distractions, including children and pets, from the room during your session. You want to communicate that you are 100 percent focused on coaching.
4. Emphasize the plan of action and next steps.
Your team members are probably feeling a little lost right now. Help them feel more secure in their work-life by emphasizing the plan of action. A concrete plan helps salespeople to claim ownership over their work even in these uncertain times.
Every coaching session should include a plan of action featuring specific steps that the salesperson needs to take. Put the plan in writing and set the expectation that you will review results during your next session.
5. Remain attentive to body language and nonverbal cues during your coaching sessions.
When you see your team members every day, you’re picking up all sorts of information about their mental states without even being consciously aware of it. Remote work makes this kind of deduction more difficult.
However, it is still possible for you to gain intelligence on how your team members are responding to their work and the pressures of the job. During your video meetings, pay extra attention to your team members’ nonverbal cues. This can be difficult to do via a laptop, so it can be helpful to review the nuances of body language interpretation. As you become accustomed to working with your salespeople remotely, take note of any nonverbal tells.
6. Ask your team members to share the challenges of virtual work and be proactive about problem-solving.
Being suddenly thrust into virtual work can be challenging, and you should acknowledge the frustrations. Problems may be anything from creating a distraction-free workspace to challenges in selling virtually. Encourage your team members to share the roadblocks they’re facing so that you can come up with a plan of action for addressing it. Communicate to your team that you’re all in this together and that you want to help.
7. Gamify the sales leaderboards or create a sales contest to keep motivation high.
Maintaining strong motivation is a definite challenge right now. You can encourage your team members to stay motivated by fostering friendly competition. Continue to track sales leaders while you work remotely.
You can also go a step further and give special prizes to sales leaders. A formal sales contest can also be a good option. If you run a contest, consider making it a team contest. This can encourage your team members to form bonds and work together even when they are physically separated. When done well, competition can add excitement to otherwise monotonous days.
8. Encourage your team members to pursue learning independently or as part of a team.
Remote work can provide people with more time to learn new skills on their own. Encourage your team members to pursue independent learning. During individual coaching sessions, discuss skills that can be developed. Point your team members to the right resources and check-in to see how their development is progressing.
Continued learning can also be a group activity. Select a book for your entire team to read (or a podcast or video). Set a time for all of you to discuss the content on your Slack. This can be an effective way for everyone to feel connected without adding the burden of another video conference.
9. Track the progress of individual deals through CRM and pipeline management tools.
It can be harder to gauge the progress of deals without being able to meet with your team members face-to-face. This means that tracking deals through the CRM and other pipeline management tools is even more important than ever.
Ask your team members specific questions about the deals you’re tracking. This lets them know that you’re still here to help them strategize.
These are challenging times for all of us. But by implementing remote sales coaching techniques, you can ensure that your team is well-equipped to navigate remote work.