For remote sales managers, this article describes three things you can do to improve the quality of your remote sales coaching. Better quality sales coaching is the key to improving your team’s morale.
One of the biggest fears that salespeople have with a remote sales manager is the fear of being micromanaged. According to the Harvard Business Review, a primary reason that managers micromanage is they want to feel more connected with lower-level workers.
Because remote sales managers are now less connected to salespeople than they were before the start of the pandemic, they are now much more susceptible to becoming micromanagers.
The loss of the ability to observe salespeople in action can prompt remote sales managers to manage what they can still see and measure: sales activity and results. The trouble is, when remote sales managers provide only metrics management, their salespeople see that as micromanagement. Salespeople then feel less engaged from your company, which eventually can cause good salespeople to quit.
The best way to positively connect with your salespeople, and avoid being seen as a micromanager, is to provide better quality sales coaching. Stop flogging salespeople for not making enough sales calls and start providing high-quality sales coaching that helps them win more deals! That’s how remote sales managers can avoid destroying their team’s morale.
How can you provide higher quality remote sales coaching and make better connections with salespeople? Here are three tips to get you started:
Ask coaching questions that shift reps’ focus from the sales process to the buying process
When a remote sales manager asks a salesperson, “what happened in your last meeting with that prospect?” the salesperson’s answer is typically a description of what the seller did in the meeting: build trust, identify needs, present a proposal, etc.
To be a great remote sales manager, however, you must be able to distinguish between actions that your salespeople take and actions that customers take. Only customer actions such as:
- Described problems with their current supplier
- Referred me to another decision-maker
- Agreed to meet with me for 30-minutes to review our proposal
Are an accurate predictor of progress through the buying process.
If you’re only tracking the steps of selling you won’t know WHY or WHEN a customer stopped moving forward. If you can’t identify why or when a customer stopped moving forward it makes it very difficult to know what skills or techniques a salesperson needs to improve in order to become more effective. And if you don’t know that, you can’t coach effectively.
To get your reps to focus on the buying process ask, “What actions did the customer agree to take at the end of your meeting?”
Have your salespeople email the prospect a Memo of Understanding, or what I call the “MOU,” after key needs analysis discussions
The MOU should be a short email that a salesperson sends to a prospect immediately following the conclusion of their initial meeting, to summarize what your salesperson learned about the customer’s needs. The best MOUs describe the customer’s discontent with their current situation, capture customer pain points, and discuss ripple effects and financial costs on the customer’s business.
Professional salespeople embrace the idea of sending MOUs for three reasons. First, a good MOU can increase the urgency for the customer to act sooner rather than later. Second, the MOU also serves to equip the prospect with a document the prospect can use to get buy-in from other stakeholders. Third, a good MOU shows the prospect that the salesperson was listening.
Remote sales managers can also benefit from this MOU best practice by requesting to be “bcc” on all MOUs. Being able to review these MOUs yourself, and particularly the first MOU in a sales process, helps remote sales managers to learn how effective each salesperson is at needs analysis discussions. Remote sales managers can interpret from the MOU the questions a salesperson asked, and questions they didn’t ask. Then, coach the salesperson forward from there.
Schedule more one-on-one “deal coaching” conversations
Meet virtually each week with each salesperson on your team and ask the salesperson to be prepared to discuss the top five deals they are working on. Your goal in these strategizing sessions is to ask thought-provoking questions that improve the salesperson’s chances of winning the deal.
During your deal coaching sessions with salespeople ask:
- What has happened most recently with each opportunity?
- What is the next customer action the salesperson is moving towards?
- Define the options for next steps
- Discuss strategies the salesperson is considering using to advance the deal
Remote Sales Managers Meet Remote Sales Management Training
To help remote sales managers improve the quality of their sales coaching I recently introduced, “Deal Coaching: pre-call conversations that can increase your win rates.” This video is one of 36 lessons in my new online sales management training course. For a limited time, I’m offering you Free Access to this Deal Coaching lesson here: https://toplineleadership.com/online-sales-management-training-course/
It takes a great sales manager to build a successful sales team. If you want a guide to help you get to greatness faster – check out my new online course, “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Great.”