Like any skill, perfecting your approach to selling requires practice, feedback and careful coaching. Sales managers and business leaders know and appreciate this fact, so sales coaching is often a central component of training new hires and providing ongoing support for long-time agents.
Today, the landscape has changed. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for moving a wide variety of business functions online. Virtual sales coaching followed suit. However, the pandemic may have simply accelerated an already growing trend toward remote work.
Regardless of the origins behind this shift, remote selling is likely here to stay. A recent Gartner report concluded that 80% of B2B sales interactions between buyers and sellers are expected to be conducted using digital means by 2025.
As part of this transformation, the authors emphasized the importance of effective coaching strategies.
While the recent growth in remote work was driven primarily by necessity, the ability to work from home is a perk that may help businesses attract and retain top talent in the future. There are also potential benefits for sales teams in particular. A distributed workforce helps companies cover more ground without the overhead costs associated with opening and maintaining new field offices.
In the years ahead, virtual sales coaching will be indispensable in terms of ensuring that revenue targets are met and that reps have access to the professional and personal growth opportunities needed to perform their jobs effectively.
Best practices for successful virtual sales coaching and remote selling
To get you on the right foot as you build out new plans for virtual sales coaching, we’ve put together a practical Remote Selling Resource Hub. The assets available here range from educational videos about virtual selling to tips and tricks, support for digital onboarding, guidelines for hosting online events and more.
Below, we’ll zero in on some of the key strategies behind successful virtual sales coaching and remote selling.
1. Have a collaborative platform
Virtual sales coaching deserves a dedicated top-tier platform that features a well-designed user experience and an easy-to-navigate interface for managers and reps alike. All users need to be able to comfortably manage tasks and interact with each other seamlessly from their remote offices.
For team leaders, the centralized Manager Hub in Showpad Coach surfaces valuable information about training progress and potential hurdles for individual reps. Digital leaderboards and other interactive features foster a community spirit among dispersed teams.
Test out new solutions for yourself before adopting them for the whole department, and solicit input directly from your sales agents, too. After all, this platform has to benefit them the most. If they see a potential red flag with one application, but they’re particularly enthusiastic about a different option, make sure to listen carefully to these recommendations.
In addition to your sales platform, it’s important to establish guidelines for regular team video conference meetings, email interactions and other collaboration tools like messaging applications and project management software. Also, don’t forget to sync your calendars so it’s clear what everybody’s working hours are, especially if your team consists of sales reps operating in different time zones across the U.S. or countries throughout the world.
2. Consider what changes need to be made to onboarding
To set new employees up for successful remote selling, you have to pay careful attention to any potential obstacles in the onboarding process. Make sure your new recruits have everything they need to ramp up quickly. Remote onboarding can present unique challenges for your company to address.
In a recent article published by the Harvard Business School about the importance of online onboarding following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the author stated that recent surveys found companies had self-reported that the integration phase of their hiring and recruiting processes, which can be considered closely related to onboarding, scored an average of 3.4 out of 5.
If your own self-assessment indicates that there’s substantial room for improvement with virtual onboarding, it’s time to audit your current setup and see where you can find solutions.
The article mentions that key areas of focus could include:
- Equipment issues
- Access and permissions challenges
- Orientation and training programs
If you’re interested in learning how Showpad can be used to improve your virtual onboarding processes, take a look at how two recent companies leveraged our platform. From formal onboarding to certification and peer-to-peer learning, there’s a wide variety of ways that Showpad can help.
For Showpad client Alteryx, the platform has proven its value by providing new hires with a self-driven learning process, complete with certifications and role-playing scenarios. With onboarding programs managed through Showpad, the company benefits from a comprehensive, time-effective approach to the intake process for several different departments.
3. Have regular, scheduled check-ins
Have you ever heard of the phrase “no news is good news”? When it comes to virtual sales coaching, this phrase is basically obsolete.
In a shared office environment, it’s easy to keep in touch with your colleagues, managers and direct reports on a frequent basis through informal conversation and regular workplace chatter. However, with a remote workforce, you can’t just pop over to a sales agent’s desk to ask a quick question.
Many top sales reps and promising new recruits love the added flexibility they’re afforded by working from home. To make remote work successful for all parties involved, it’s important to schedule a time for sellers and managers to connect.
Depending on your office culture and your workload, the cadence of these meetings will vary, as will agenda items. Whether you choose to meet monthly or weekly, some topics of conversation you might focus on include:
- Recent wins
- Ongoing obstacles
- Logistical concerns
- Overall employee progress
- Feedback about the work environment
Even if you don’t have an agenda that’s set in stone for each check-in meeting, placing some time on the calendar can help reinforce workplace bonds and build trust between reps and their supervisors.
Through this approach to remote working, sales reps have the flexibility needed to achieve their desired work-life balance, and managers are able to touch base every once in a while, affirming that their team members have the resources and structure needed to achieve their goals.
4. Make coaching activities engaging
Virtual sales coaching shouldn’t be just another item to check off your list. We’ve all attended sessions that were held solely with the aim of meeting some mandated requirement. However, inspiring and encouraging your sales reps isn’t just some everyday chore. It’s crucial for both the employee’s and organization’s success.
To make sure that your employees are invested in the process and committed to growth, focus on interesting and engaging coaching activities that promote skill retention and progressive improvement.
Role-playing scenarios and gamification help make the process fun while promoting active participation, which can make all the difference between passive attention and critical engagement with the course material. Trust that your employees want to grow their skills and provide them with interesting, participant-driven exercises that encourage them to acquire new abilities, think critically, practice what they’ve learned and build community with their peers.
Showpad Coach sales training employs modules that are broken into short-form lessons and arranged into educational pathways that make it easy for sales reps to access content and review what they’ve learned on the go. Exercises used in virtual sales coaching include recorded pitches, peer feedback and a library of relevant resources created through collaboration with colleagues. Online leaderboards enhance the experience by promoting friendly competition so sales reps can encourage each other to reach new heights using the platform.
5. Leverage analytics to tweak virtual coaching strategies
Every seller has unique strengths that they bring to the table. Each rep also has their own specific growth areas. A one-size-fits-all virtual sales coaching model doesn’t go far enough to ensure that you’re meeting each of your individual sales agents on their own terms and helping them reach their full potential.
With Showpad, managers can deploy scalable virtual sales coaching systems. Assessments provide valuable information about potential skills gaps on the team, and supervisors can instantly view detailed reports about how reps are progressing through training. With insights from these scores, it’s easy to course correct and provide agents with the support they need to sharpen their skills.
Reviewing assessment data from the entire team can help you uncover potential departmental shortcomings, too. This can be used to inform future hiring strategies or support large-scale training initiatives.
By using a data-powered approach to virtual sales coaching, you can increase the efficiency of your company training program. Reps are able to ramp up quickly, even at a distance, and they can gain confidence in their expertise and remote selling abilities, leading to higher performance in the field.
Virtual sales coaching depends on a sales enablement platform that’s built for remote selling
What do all sales managers want? They want to provide their team members with the tools, knowledge and encouragement needed to close deals and meet quotas. At the same time, supervisors recognize the importance of facilitating the continued professional development of top performers so these reps can reach new career heights and achieve even more ambitious goals.
Virtual sales coaching is an essential part of the process for remote selling. A dedicated sales enablement platform like Showpad can help to promote collaboration between sales managers and reps.
Showpad Coach helps sales managers provide the kind of engaging training experience that drives tangible outcomes for sales reps. The process is repeatable, simple to manage and powered by data, making it easy to decide where additional support is needed and to respond accordingly. The whole process is designed to help new recruits ramp up quickly while encouraging continued growth and development for even the highest-performing reps on your sales team.
Request a demo today to learn more about the Showpad sales enablement platform.