Like the rest of us, sales managers and their teams are creatures of habit. In many ways, their routines and schedules are influenced by their environment, and change can be frustrating. With so many sales teams currently working remotely, managers need to be mindful of how such changes affect the day-to-day activities that keep their teams productive, such as offering praise and using technology. If they’re not careful, little things can get overlooked, and minor issues can result in a loss of morale or productivity. Here are a few things sales managers can do to successfully coach their teams when working in a remote environment:
- How often do team members stop you in the breakroom or lean over a partition to ask a question? When you work remotely, you lose this casual interaction. Some team members won’t want to send countless emails or texts. Instead, they will save their questions for one long email or bring them up in a group chat. This can waste time. Check in regularly. Let them know you’re available and ready to help whenever they need it.
- Working remotely, it can be difficult to give up authority. Since you can’t see your team at their desks or hear their calls, you could overreact not knowing the status of a project. While you should ask questions and keep track of their progress, it’s important to respect your team’s space. Despite our previous point to check in regularly, that doesn’t mean to blow up their phones or email every time a question pops up. Trust them to work at their own pace and keep a list of timely matters you can discuss in daily video chats.
- A little praise goes a long way to motivate team members, and nothing is more rewarding than public praise. In the office, it’s easy to acknowledge a job well done. Working remotely, it can get overlooked. Also, while it’s nice to hear these things individually, it’s more meaningful when shared. Mention specific team members in group chats or conference calls for a morale boost that benefits them all.
- In person, others can hear our tone of voice and see our faces and mannerisms. Without these, as in online communication, it can be easy to sound short, impatient, or even angry. A jocular comment, like “Walter is taking his sweet time on that proposal,” might elicit smiles in the office, but it can sound like a reprimand in a group chat or text. Though often frowned upon in professional settings, simple emojis can make a big difference.
- In the office, technology issues can be corrected with gentle reminders, but this can be time consuming when remote. This is especially true with advanced collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx that make your job easier than ever but can seem complicated to some team members, especially if not used every day. To avoid a loss of productivity, managers should ensure their team members are up to date on the technology.
- So much of a modern sales teams’ work is the accumulation and use of data. From reports and dashboards in your CRM to performance declines and conversion rates, the teams that are best equipped to share and read the data will often be the most productive. As with all technology, don’t assume team members are up to speed or have the necessary rights and privileges. Managers should ensure each team member can quickly access the data they need to do their jobs efficiently from their remote locations.
While working remotely will present challenges, it shouldn’t result in a loss of motivation or productivity. In many ways, today’s tech was specifically designed for collaborating, making it easier to work together, no matter where we are. Successful managers know that, in the office, this collaboration takes many forms, including individual or group coaching sessions. However, sales coaching is never just a set activity. It’s all encompassing, throughout the day and week. Used correctly, the technology makes it easier to stay connected and coach your team no matter how far apart you may be.