One of the biggest challenges facing sales enablement teams in 2021 is the question of how to run effective sales coaching programs for sales teams who are all or mostly working from home. As vaccine rollout speeds up around the globe and the business world reopens, sales departments are asking themselves how to produce the sales results they’re looking for.
You could require all your sales employees to come into the office for in-person training, but that’s not necessarily the best way to go about it. Many of your employees could still be minimizing in-person interactions, given that only 24% of Americans said they feel safe about engaging in “normal” out-of-home activities.
Additionally, one of the side benefits to moving to a remote work basis is that you can hire the best sales talent no matter where they are located, so your sales employees could live too far away for in-person training to be practical.
Remote work is here to stay. 59% of employees want to continue to WFH at least part of the time, so you may as well accept the new reality and find ways to make it work for you. Remote sales coaching can be just as effective as your former approaches, as long as you go about it in the right way.
Here are 5 sales coaching tips for remote teams.
1. Make your sales training and coaching engaging
You’re never able to force your sales employees to complete training and coaching programs, but it’s even harder to ensure it happens when your employees aren’t under your nose. Although incentives and reminders can help, you’ll get a lot further if employees actually enjoy your sales coaching sessions.
Today’s technology means that you can use gamification, produce video-game-style sales coaching challenges, and create leaderboards that encourage friendly competition between individuals and teams.
2. Apply the capabilities of AI to your sales coaching
AI programs learn from the user, so they become increasingly tailored the more someone practices. When you use an AI-powered sales coaching program, you can provide truly personalized and customized training that matches each employee’s strengths and weaknesses
AI also enables you to create a realistic sales scenario so that employees can practice their pitches and receive instant feedback. Coaching employees to confidence and fluency in their pitches is the most challenging aspect of sales training, but AI allows them to repeat their pitch over and over again until they meet your standards.
3. Make your sales coaching truly on-demand
Your remote sales coaching needs to pay more than just lip service to the word “remote.” Don’t assume that all your employees will sit at their desks in their home office to complete 2 hours of training, because that’s not very likely. Instead, make it possible for sales representatives to consume training in small chunks of time by dividing it into shorter modules, and/or ensuring that the program can remember where they left off and resume with a brief review.
Similarly, your coaching programs need to be not just mobile-ready, but mobile-first. Enable sales employees to move seamlessly from one device to the next, and to access it on the bus, in the playground with their children, or in the bedroom while hiding from the rest of their family.
4. Create a central communications hub
Effective sales coaching isn’t just about teaching employees your product features or brand messaging. It’s also about motivating and encouraging your teams. Pre-COVID-19, sales teams worked together, with plenty of people to share highs and lows or to ask for advice if a call didn’t go so well. But when reps are isolated at home, they can easily lose their sparkle and drive.
You also want your employees to ask for help if something goes wrong, rather than to hide it, but a sales representative who’s working at home alone is more likely to end up thinking they are the only one who fails than someone who sees the misses all around them as well as the hits. Your employees need a virtual space where they can update about recent calls, celebrate big wins, and console each other when a pitch goes badly. There are tons of tools for this, such as Slack, Discord (yes, the same place gamers use…), even Zoom has a solution for this. Daily video huddles and shared leaderboards can also help replicate the office buzz.
5. Measure employee progress
You always need to track employee interactions with your sales coaching programs, gather data, and use analytics to mine insights into the impact of your sales coaching programs, but once again, the need is even greater for remote operations.
It’s hard to see how a sales employee is coming along when you can’t hover by their workstation and listen in on a call. By the time you see data about an employee’s closed deals, for example, they might have already spent months or more feeling out of their depth and losing revenue.
Set up data collection and analytics to track metrics like time spent on training, time spent on each call, coaching course completion rates, use of your newest messaging language, etc. so you can pick up on employees who are falling behind and do some course correction before it’s too late.
Next-gen sales training and coaching tools can drive success even on remote
Rolling out sales coaching among your remote sales teams isn’t easy, but it can still succeed when you use the right tactics. Providing coaching programs that are engaging, accessible, and AI-driven, measuring employee progress, and offering one or more platforms for sales teams to interact are the pillars of any successful remote sales coaching strategy.