There are considerable differences between inside sales reps and outside sales reps. That extends to coaching them, too. With increasing adoption of inside sales by organizations, we thought it was an excellent opportunity to discuss the best practices for coaching a team of inside sales reps.
- Take advantage of the ease of calls access.
When you have an inside sales team, you’re frequently in the same physical location. That makes it much simpler to listen and provide real-time feedback on live sales call or participate in joint calls (an excellent way to model ideal sales behaviors). Review of previously recorded calls is also an effective strategy to provide specific, relevant feedback on what a sales rep is doing well and what they can improve on.
- Have a consistent meeting schedule – both individual and team.
Physical proximity (or remote call-in using today’s technology) also makes scheduling meetings effortless. Be sure to meet reps both individually and as a team. Use this opportunity to go over current or past top sales challenges and discuss them as a pair or a group (depending on the meeting type). You can also conduct role-plays and group sales call review in these sessions, allowing for brainstormed feedback and ideas that give your team members a stake in their own individual development and the skills and knowledge improvement of their colleagues.
- Create a bank of best sales calls/emails from team members.
One of the advantages of inside sales teams is the primacy of sales calls and emails. Those are tangible, fixed permanent records. So use them as part of your coaching and training content. Select the best ones of each and give your team access to them. This is a fantastic way to teach new sales strategies and approaches, and if you opt to have the contributing sales rep’s name visible, it’s an indirect way of recognizing and applauding their excellence.
- Make your expectations clear.
What behaviors do you want your inside sales reps to engage in? What are the sales processes and approaches you want them to use? That only comes through setting expectations – what you want them to do and, most importantly, -why- you want them to conduct themselves in that way. A good way to approach the question of why is to ask and answer, “How does this behavior or strategy correlate to increased conversion and win rates?”
- Resist the temptation to micromanage.
Given the ready availability of the team, it can be tempting to constantly check in on or monitor your sales reps. Bluntly: Don’t. While new sales hires may need more guidance as part of the onboarding process, your tenured reps – especially top performers – might resent the persistent intrusion. Trust the team. Give them breathing space and autonomy – especially after they’ve proven themselves. Granting your inside reps a measure of independence can increase job satisfaction and reduce churn.
- Coach to skills, abilities, and knowledge – not KPIs and data.
Every sales professional has had the coaching meeting that essentially boils down to, “You aren’t meeting your numbers. Work on getting your numbers up.” This is not only unhelpful; it’s wasting everyone’s time. Your team can read the numbers and infer they need to improve.
Instead, use the data as guidelines. If, for example, they aren’t converting leads to prospects, where is the skill gap or process error? Identifying the reason why the numbers are off will allow you to coach to the source behavior or skill deficit, which has a much better chance of translating into improvement in metrics attainment.
- Make time for coaching.
We alluded to this earlier with consistent meetings, but it’s such an important point, we’re repeating it. Without carving time to meet regularly, your coaching will have limited effect and can fail to deliver the results you’re seeking.
The ever-growing shift to inside sales teams has necessitated a shift in sales coaching approach and strategy. Incorporating these tips into your coaching philosophy and practice will help you develop your team and enhance sales rep buy-in, investment, loyalty, and productivity.