The obvious

 

Effective coaching is critical to the success of any sales team. If you do not have a coaching program up and running, click here, and go create one now. Because sales coaching is the number one sales activity that drives sales performance higher and brings in more revenue.

With sales coaching being as important as it is it needs to be made a priority. This includes coaching a remote sales team. Although it can be more of a challenge to coach sales reps who are remote it must be done in the same way that local reps are coached.  Oftentimes, with remote team members, the coaching sessions end up being few and far between. However, being remote should not mean that distance gets in the way of achieving the company goals and the goals that you have for your team.

The first thing to keep in mind when coaching your remote sales team is that it may be uncomfortable at first if you are they are not used to meeting over video chat. This can also make it difficult when you are not able to see them in action in the field and you have to rely solely on what they tell you about what is going on in their territory.

With this added difficulty, coaching can quickly feel more like preaching when the sales rep does not think you really understand what is going on in the location they are in.  This is part of the reason that, especially for remote team members, the CRM is so important.  Before you conduct a coaching session you should be up to date on everything that has taken place in their territory over the last period of time since your last meeting or coaching session.

 

How to be effective

 

  1. Build a structured program.

In order to effectively coach a remote sales team, you need to have a structured program in place. This way your coaching will work for reps who are in the area as well as for reps who are remote.  There may be some differences but the basic structure should remain the same.  Think about what your coaching sessions look like in the field versus what they will look like when you have to do the same thing over a video call.  You have to rely on the remote reps to give you a clear and concise outline of how the sales call went without them inserting a bias based on anything that was said or done.

 

2. Be consistent.

This means coaching needs to be on a consistent basis, so video calls should be structured and they should be at a specific time.  Set your calendar up so that coaching happens at the same time every week and make it routine This way things are consistent and ongoing.

 

3. Have a process

When you build a structured program you and the reps will get used to it and know exactly what to expect during each meeting.  There should be a process in which they tell you what account they are dealing with, explain the scenario, tell you who was present and what their roles are, tell you what they were trying to accomplish, what happened in the call, and also let you know where they may need some assistance, guidance, or ideas from you.  When this happens you will be able to build the coaching around what they feel their needs are and what you identify as a need.

 

4. A phone call is better than no call.

Identifying their needs also means identifying what format works best. For example, using video as opposed to just a voice call helps to build relationships.  You are able to see one another so you also see facial expression and it feels more personal.  Video calls should be the norm but if you happen to have a meeting over a time that you have to be in the car or elsewhere a standard phone call is better than not having the meeting.  Remember, it is important to keep to the schedule so that coaching does not fall by the wayside.  The remote reps are just as vital to the team as the reps you meet with face to face.

 

Steps to success

This coaching program will be most successful if you develop a process and then implement it.  So, if you are new to coaching you need to learn how to be an effective coach.  Read some books, take some training, and rely on your past experiences to develop a program that will work for you and your team.

Once you develop your process, you need to make sure that you have a reporting tool in place so that the coaching effectiveness can be assessed.  Make sure that your plans are put in writing so that you and the team know what needs to be done and then hold yourself and them accountable to do it – this is easier when things are in writing.

You should also have a feedback mechanism in place. This feedback should include a way to give them input as the coach and them to you as the rep. Trust and comfort are key here. Ensure that they are implementing what they have learned during the coaching session and then allow them to come to you with feedback about the success or failure of the plan.

When you set clear guidelines and expectations everybody knows the rules of the game.  Expectations should be the same for all of the reps regardless of where their territory is.

 

Put it in writing

 

When coaching a remote sales team the rules need to be clear. So, a formal written program is important this way everybody knows what it is.   In the written program, the differences between coaching in general and coaching remote reps should be outlined so you know how it will look.

Aside from having a general program, it is a good idea to have a written plan for each sales rep.  Of course, this won’t happen overnight but it is worth the time and effort so that each individual receives micro-coaching based on his specific needs.  While some may need help with getting a foot in the door, others may need help closing deals.  Coaching need to be tailored to the needs of the reps and not everyone will have the same needs so a blanket approach will not drive revenue as well as individualized plans will.

After coaching, feedback should also be put in writing.  Know what worked and what did not work and make a plan for what will happen next.  Having all of the information in writing allows you to look back on it if you need it for anything.  Then, you may use the information later if you are want to look at promoting a rep or you may need the information if you feel disciplinary action may be needed.  Once everything is in writing, go over it with the sales rep and both of you should sign it.  Make sure the document has your feedback to the rep as well as his feedback to you.

Another important key to remote coaching is your follow-up.  Before the session ends, confirm the date and time for the next session.  Maintain good communication with remote reps and ensure that you are clear and concise in your expectations.  It can be harder to maintain contact with the remote reps until you make it a habit and have a consistent schedule.

Lastly, if you are having a team meeting, do not forget to include the remote reps as well.  Ensure that they feel like they are a part of the team even if they can’t be there in person.

 

 

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

 

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