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Virtual Management: Coaching Remote Sales Employees

6 min read
Updated Aug. 23, 2022
Published May. 15, 2018

We are more connected now than ever before. Technology allows us to have face-to-face conversations in an instant, and businesses are adapting to enable remote options within their organizations. This creates a whole new set of challenges for sales managers who are coaching remote sales employees. They must ensure remote sales teams remain engaged, efficient, and utilize the coaching tips without being physically present.

A survey by Virgin Media Business predicts that by 2022, 60% of office-based employees will regularly work from home.

This shift from a traditional work environment might prove beneficial for businesses. A study by Stanford University found that there is a 13% increase in productivity of remote workers.  The key is proper management of remote sales teams.

As the number of remote employees continues to rise, businesses have to adjust how they manage and coach remote employees.

Invest in Coaching Technology

Remote coaching has a number of challenges; one of those should not be the technology. Coaching remote sales employees means you can’t casually walk over and check-in with reps. This places more emphasis on effective 1:1 sales coaching meetings and a managers ability to surface insights from engagement data and recorded conversations. Instead of adding another point solution, use sales technology with coaching capabilities so teams can take action from dashboards and call recordings and engagement data are all in one place.

Don’t forget that remote sellers will also need. access to cloud-based storage for remote access to documents, mobile CRM access, video conference technology, and screen sharing capabilities. These tools provide sales managers visibility and keep teams on the same page.

Provide Clear Expectations

We all need direction. Setting measurable goals and clear standards and expectations is a first step in providing it. It’s easy to get distracted on the internet, especially when working from home (we’re looking at you Netflix). Having a standardized process and expectations in place helps maintain focus and accomplish goals. When setting standards, a manager should ask themselves, “What is the priority and why? What are the important metrics for success?”

When an employee understands what they need to accomplish, how success will be measured, and why these goals are important, it holds them accountable. If they find themselves distracted, being able to see progress toward goals within their sales engagement platform can help refocus and prioritize their time.

Defined and measurable outcomes also make it possible to track progress throughout the year. At each meeting, ask what they have been doing to accomplish each goal, and review metrics to ensure everyone is on the right track. Regular check-ins hold both the sales rep and the manager accountable.

Provide the Agenda in Advance

A meeting without an agenda is like shopping for groceries without a list. It wastes time and money and increases the risk of missing important items. Without the advantage of water cooler conversations in the office, effective meetings are particularly important.  Follow the same agenda during each 1:1 to help remote employees be prepared for upcoming meetings. It also allows for reps to ask for a shift in the agenda if items need to be prioritized.

Working remotely has unique challenges that a manager might not be aware of. Allowing employees to contribute to the agenda and focus on what they view as important lends itself to a productive meeting for both parties.

In this case, don’t leave the best for last. Important agenda items should not be held until the end. As we all know, meetings tend to run over. Ensure you address the most critical issues by prioritizing them for the beginning of the meeting.

Communication, Trust, and Inclusion

“We need to talk.” We’ve all heard it before, but that doesn’t mean your employees need to suffer the same feeling of dread those four words evoke. When coaching remotely, communication and transparency is paramount. Vague, open-ended emails and confusing spreadsheets can cause anxiety and misunderstandings. Provide a dashboard for team members to see their progress toward outcomes and offer team benchmarks.

When the rep and manager are working off common data, it won’t be a surprise when the manager asks about a lead that has been stuck in the same stage for too long. The rep can be prepared for the check and share roadblocks and solutions attempted.

Trust and inclusion go hand-in-hand. One way to build trust is to share the best personal or professional news at the beginning of meetings. This practice helps to develop a deeper relationship, which leads to more personalized, effective coaching. Inclusion in the company culture allows reps to become more personally invested in its success.

Wrap-Up Each Meeting with a Call to Action

A bias towards action leads to efficient use of meeting time. Meetings should conclude with a list of action items for follow up. Take time to revisit the agenda and discuss meeting outcomes. It’s a great way to maintain engagement and ensure everyone’s time in the meeting is productive.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key, especially when it comes to coaching. Studies show there is an 88% increase in productivity when coaching is consistent. That means an established schedule and routine with clear expectations.

A consistent meeting time with a defined agenda, ongoing training, and regular feedback are all excellent ways to set sales reps up for success. Consistency serves to not only reinforce expectations and goals but also holds sales managers accountable.

Accomplishing goals without accountability is difficult. If there is no investment on the manager’s part then why should the employee make the goals a priority? Responsibility reinforces a structured sales process and promotes a healthy sales organization.

What Did We Even Remotely Learn?

With the increasing number of remote employees, it’s important that a sales organization remain flexible and adapt to the changing market. Sales coaching has changed in the modern sales organization. The right sales technology is now critical and it must enable clear and direct communication, a focus on outcomes, and the ability to take action from anywhere.

Looking for more tips on leveraging technology to coach more effectively? Download our eBook here!

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