3 Ways to Coach Remote and Field-Based Sales Teams
The IDC predicted that within just two years, 72% of the US workforce will be ‘mobile’ as the rest of the work population catches up with the sales profession, for whom over 70% are in–field sales roles.
But undoubtedly one of the challenges of remote or field-based teams is coaching. When coaching is cited as the most important role of a sales manager by three-quarters of leading companies and the biggest single impact a leader can have on revenue, mastering effective coaching for your remote and geographically dispersed teams, becomes business-critical.
Combatting the Loss of Ad-Hoc Coaching
There’s an industry-wide acknowledgment that the time dedicated to coaching is rarely sufficient. Many managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching, in spite of the overwhelming evidence on impact.
But for field-based teams, that is compounded by the lack of ad-hoc coaching, the unplanned spur of the moment as a result of overhearing a conversation or asking advice by the water cooler, the loss of physical presence sees such ‘just-in-time coaching’ opportunities pass by.
So what can you do to ensure effective coaching of your remote sales team? Here are three ways to coach remote teams effectively.
1. Establish a Coaching Process
CSO recently stated the difference in impact between merely creating an informal sales coaching culture compared to a dynamic coaching process was 28%. But with the loss of ad-hoc opportunities, any coaching culture is merely window dressing without a process.
Time – regular calendar sessions, dedicated to coaching
Structure – a planned approach to what those sessions look like, what will be covered, and how
A great example, followed by a number of our clients, is for reps to simply share each week an example of a great call/demo, an ‘OK’ one, and one that did not go to plan or have a positive outcome. Key moments and insight can be time stamped from such recordings to share praise, ideas, and corrective feedback, focusing the coaching session on replaying and discussing what went well and how they could be better.
2. Define What Great Looks Like
Another challenge of remote and field sales teams is the lack of learning through osmosis. It’s no longer possible to benefit from hearing peers finding the killer discovery question, positioning the value for a particular customer profile, or nailing an objection response.
Often it is the detail and subtle elements of such ‘champagne moments’ that change ‘good’ to ‘great’.
So share such examples. Show the playbook that has worked for others, expose what top performers do differently – demonstrate how that slightly different worded question elicits a much more revealing and valuable response.
Without knowing what ‘great’ looks like, how can we ever move on from ‘good’. Yet in a profession that complies with the 80/20 rule, making good reps superstars – impacting the performance of the middle 60%, is where the biggest impact on revenue is made.
3. Create Bite-Size Scenario Challenges
Video scenario challenges can provide frequent (weekly) coaching insight within 60 seconds for a manager and a rep.
Managers create a real-life scenario, likely faced by the team. “You’re speaking with this type of prospect, you’ve so far discovered that X, Y and Z, but then they tell you this, what would you do?”
Recorded ‘live’ (camera rolling throughout the question for an immediate response, replicating real-life ability to think on your feet) or allowing the rep to consider and plan their response, it immediately reveals mistakes, missed opportunities and ‘moments of brilliance’ that need to be shared with the team.
Many of our clients do this as a weekly challenge going out on a Monday (these can be scheduled), with the ability to gamify them, track progress, identify strengths and weaknesses as well as ensure frequent coaching interventions – with insignificant commitment in time.
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