Sales coaching is hard enough as it is, but what happens when you have to sales coach a remote team? Today on The Funnel we discuss the obvious part of remote coaching, how to be an effective remote coach, the steps to success, and how to put everything in writing. As always if you have any questions please schedule a free 30 minute consultation and i’ll do my best to help in any way I can.
What we’re going to cover:
- The obvious
- How to be effective
- Steps to success
- Put it in writing
Effective coaching is key
“It’s critical to success. It is the number one activity that can drive sales performance for you higher than it is today. If you grow, develop, evolve and coach your sales team you’re going to have success.
But if you have a sales force that spreads across the region it makes coaching a difficult task. And it may even be that it is to infrequent to be effective. But at the end of the day, being remote shouldn’t stand in the way of what you’re trying to achieve.”
Can be uncomfortable
“However, this can be uncomfortable in the beginning because people aren’t used to a coaching session via phone or video chat. That’s okay. Just give it time.”
Can’t see them in action
“I understand that. But because you can’t see them on a sales call you’re going to have to, to some degree, take their word for it when they tell you what’s going on in their territory, how the call went, and what not. But as the sales manager who is managing this remote team you don’t have to see them in action to be effective.”
Preaching versus coaching
“You just have to keep in mind that after the sales call you’re really letting the rep discuss what happened and give you their thoughts on it before you come back and say ‘this is what I think’. Because you weren’t there, you don’t know. It’s easy to flip the switch between preaching verses coaching when you’re not in person.”
How to be effective
“First, I’m assuming you have a structured coaching program in place. If you don’t have a structured program then you need to build a structured coaching program. Then I would look at that program and say ‘how can I make this remote?’ You need to look at that and make those changes because you’re not going to be going on calls with them and that’s going to change the dynamic.”
“You have the structure of the written program on how you’re going to coach but this structure is really around when you’re going to do these calls. It can’t just be ‘when we have time during the week’ it needs to be set out ‘at this date, at this time’. And it needs to be consistent and happen the same time every week.”
“Because you’re more likely to stick to that then ‘let’s find time next week to get together.’ You need that consistency and you need it to be an ongoing process.”
“For example, ‘This is what we’re going to do: you’re going to give me the accounts, you’re going to give me the scenario, the people that were in the room, their titles, what you’re trying to accomplish, what happened in that call, and where you think you may need some help’ And it’s an ongoing process every week at the same time.”
“I would highly recommend you go down the video road. There’s tons of free/inexpensive video chats and all you need is a laptop with a camera. Because you get a lot more out of the video. People are more focused because you’re looking right at them, you can see inflections in their face, you can have a real conversation, and that’s important. That’s how you’re effective.”
Steps to success
1. Develop a coaching process/Learn to coach
“Some of you have never had coaching experience or never been trained on coaching so I would say learn how to coach first. There’s books and things that you can do for self-development and if the company wants to pay for that there are all kinds of programs out there.”
2. Reporting tool
“Put something in place that you can report on the coaching. In other words, put it in writing what you’re going over and how it’s going. This way, you have a well understood process in place and people understand the skill.”
3. Feedback mechanism
“The coaching sessions need to have a way to report back what’s going on. The feedback mechanism is simple, you want to give them feedback on the work that they’re doing but you also want them to give you feedback on the coaching. ‘how did it go? What happened? Did you implement it? Tell me where the pitfalls were? Tell me what works and what didn’t work?’”
4. Set clear guidelines and expectations
“For example, ‘yeah we’re going to do this weekly coaching session and we’ll find a time during the week I’ll send you an email’ that’s not good enough. You need clear guidelines and expectations so everybody knows the rules of the game. So, if you have to come back and implement some disciplinary things you can say ‘look this is what we talked about, this will be put in place’.”
Put it in writing
Formal written program
“A formal, written, coaching process should be in place. This way everybody knows what it is, from the managers to the sales people, and everybody needs to know. Because that’s the general overriding guidelines for coaching and coaching remotely. And you need a specific, written, plan, for remote coaching, because it’s going to be different.”
Written plan to each sales person
“You have that overarching written program and in addition to that you write a plan for each salesperson. So, if you have a rep that’s three states away and you visit once a quarter what’s your plan with them? Is it a micro plan? Is it an overarching plan?”
Feedback in writing
“All your feedback, and their feedback, should be in writing. If they have something to say just put it in writing and there’s already a mechanism for that. Whatever tools you decide to use it should be easy to access, and readily available whenever needed.”
Why is this important?
- As a sales rep evolves if they’re not getting better at something you’re coaching on you can refer back to everything you’ve put in writing.
- If someone is progressing and doing well you can refer back to that and use that as a launching pad for a promotion for them.
- You can go back and look at where they’ve had problems if it starts to reoccur again and look at some of the ways you made changes to fix it.
“What are you going to do next? What are your next steps in this coaching process? What have I done now to succeed and then what am I going to do for homework?
“The real key to coaching remotely is that communication, that really good process, the communication between the two of you, because you’re not going to be in the field with them.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.