Great sales managers know, the key to success is coaching. Coaching involves a great deal of communication. In traditional office settings, it was easy to walk across the hall and initiate a quick coaching session face-to-face when problems arise. Today, many businesses have moved to a remote sales model with sales managers quickly discovering that, leading a remote sales team is entirely different than leading an onsite sales team.
This article will identify methods sales leaders can implement to effectively coach their remote teams.
1. Schedule regular one on ones with clear agendas
One on one meetings with each member of the sales team is an important task for a sales manager. The one on one meetings provide a channel of communication between the sales team member and the manager. Sales leaders with large sales teams have to ensure these meetings are as productive and efficient as possible and it is in everyone’s best interest to have an agenda ready. An agenda may include providing the sales representative with a broad description of the items to be discussed before the meeting. These items may include the status of specific clients or future sales tactics. Always address the most important topics at the beginning of the meeting. There should be enough time during the meeting to discuss any questions or concerns they may have. This provides the sales representative with a structured environment to ask for help when needed.
2. Invest in remote monitoring software
When managing a remote sales team, remote monitoring software is a fundamental instrument for growth. There are two essential tools for remote monitoring.
Call Recording Software – Versadial Solutions offers a powerful call recording solution to allow sales managers to search, playback and listen to recorded calls, listen and monitor live calls, insert notes and flag a recorded call. These features provide the proper tools to coach a remote sales team and improve their performance.
Screen Capture – Versadial Solutions offers a computer screen recorder program to capture the activity on your representative’s computer. The recordings can be in still images or recorded like a video and the program is designed to run silently in the background. The program can be activated manually or with triggers such as mouse or speaker / microphone activity. The video can also be merged with the audio recording into a single audio / video file.
3. Listen to live and recorded calls
Sales managers cannot listen to every call their team makes, however; to improve the performance of a sales team, the sales manager must listen to some calls to understand what their representative s are saying to their leads and prospects. Listening to recorded or live calls allows sales leaders to understand what their sales representatives are doing that is working and is not working.
Randomly select several calls within the week or day for review. This will allow managers to detect and understand the weaknesses and strengths each sales representative has. Based on the call review, the sales manager can provide feedback, comments and corrective suggestions to the sales representative.
Sales managers may also assign a task to the sales representative to choose two calls they had during the week for them to review. The calls should be their best and their worst call. This will allow the manager to understand the sales representative perceives their weaknesses and strengths.
4. Establish a peer review and learning system
Peer Reviews – Developing a great sales team is not something a sales manager can do alone. Sales representative s often learn better techniques from their peers. Involve senior representatives to listen to calls from less experienced peers and have the senior representative provide feedback for improvement. Peer reviews provide both sales representatives an opportunity to learn in an environment with different perspectives, pitch different ideas to each other and role play. This also provides an opportunity for team bonding and reduces the work load on the sales manager.
Peer Learning Library – Developing a call recording library is another way to provide a sales team with resources. Sales managers can store and catalog a library of best practices and excellent sales calls. The library can be referenced to representatives who are struggling with examples to help them overcome sales hurdles. Sales managers can also direct junior representatives to learn closing or new sales techniques.
5. Setup routine team meetings
When a sales representative is taken out of the traditional office setting and begins working remotely, the loss of the high energy and positive atmosphere may be daunting and feelings of loneliness and isolation may surface. It is important for sales teams to regularly meet via video conference and discuss their status. Each representative can describe their greatest challenges and successes from the previous week. Sales managers can use this opportunity to listen to good and bad sales calls and coach the team as a group. The sales representatives will learn and help each other work through challenging sales calls.
6. Share accomplishments and losses
It is important for sales leaders to establish team meetings and coaching efforts as a judgement free zone and encourage employee engagement. When the team addresses losses, it supports all team members and provides comfort to others. When the team addresses wins, it creates the feeling of shared accomplishment. The more accomplishments a team mate shares, the more enthusiasm is shared within the group. This leads to brain storming and developing strategies to face more complex sales challenges.
7. Align coaching with the goals of the sales representatives
The goal of coaching is centered upon the development and growth of the sales representative. This includes both the professional and personal goals from the sales representative. When the sales manager discovers what the true goals of their sales representatives are, the manager can align the coaching methods to meet the needs of the sales representative. These goals can be anything and everything for a sales representative to become a sales manager or simply improving their cold calling skills. Understanding the long term and short-term professional and personal goals of the sales representative allows the sales leader to draw a plan of action for the sales representative to help them achieve those goals. The sales manager can adjust the coaching around the sales representative’s goals for each session to develop a high performing team member.
8. Create Leaderboards
Sales leaderboards inspire collaboration and competition. A common technique sales managers use is gamification to feed the competitive nature of their sales team. Recognizing top performers can motivate other employees to succeed. Leaderboards provide each member of the sales team with their sales progress and helps identify their strengths and coaching needs. Leaderboards also provides the sales staff with the knowledge of what metrics management is tracking and allows them to adjust their focus accordingly.
9. Conclude each coaching session with a clear call to action
At the end of each one on one coaching session, managers must establish clear goals and the actionable items the sales representative must take. For sales representatives with long term career goals, managers must provide the representatives with specific actions to take before the next one on one meeting. These goals may include specific tasks such as completing a set number of outbound cold calls during the week. By setting clear and specific actions, it holds the sales representative accountable for the meeting and the sales representatives typically respond quickly when they need support or guidance. It also promotes initiative and encourages the sales representative to improve their performance.
As sales managers shift from coaching their team in person to remote, they will discover there are some techniques that are the same and some techniques that are different. Developing an excellent remote coaching process and having the right tools will help sales managers achieve the goals for the company and the sales team. What is most important in coaching a remote sales team is to provide an environment for the sales team to function together, maintain a competitive spirit and stay focused on the company’s goals.