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Expert remote sales coaching tips + sales games for remote teams

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Last updated
December 11, 2020

Does your remote sales team feel like selling was more fun in the office?

Remote sales coaching, training, and enablement can be challenging for managers. After all, how do you keep up with each individual rep’s current state of mind? How do you keep their sales skills sharp when you’re not next to them? And how can you keep a sales team united when they’re dispersed across the country (or even the world)?

These are common challenges today’s sales managers face. That’s why we’ve spent some time chatting with some of today’s top remote sales managers to bring you this chapter of the Remote Sales Guide.

Keep reading to dig into these topics:

  • How to coach & enable a remote sales team
  • Tips and strategies to keep your virtual sales team engaged (from real sales managers!)
  • 6 sales games for remote teams to keep your salespeople unified

How to coach & enable a remote sales team

To coach and enable a remote sales team, focus on their needs as individuals as well as a group. In a remote setting, communication and training must all be done more intentionally. Setting up and documenting your own unique processes for remote sales training and coaching will help keep your whole team on the same page: then everyone will have clear in mind what’s expected of them and when.

In-office, you have the ability to wander around the sales floor, listen to your reps, and casually add your feedback to their workday.

Remote sales managers need to be more structured in their approach to coaching. You can’t just look across the room to see if a rep is on a call or if they’re free to chat; you need to schedule that time with them.

And you never want your remote sales reps to wonder who to reach out to when they're facing challenges, or how and when to best contact them. You need to proactively ensure that every team member knows who they can reach out to when they're struggling to protect them from burning out.

So, what strategies do today's sales leaders use to keep their virtual teams motivated and engaged?

Tips & strategies to keep your virtual sales team engaged (from real sales managers!)

Wondering how the practitioners in the field of remote sales are coaching and training their sales teams? Below, you’ll find 14 top-tier strategies remote sales managers are using to enable and empower their high-performing teams.

1. Combine clear expectations with flexibility

Have clear expectations as to what their day to day activities should look like (no ambiguity), but give flexibility and autonomy in their schedule as long as they are making an impact.

Used effectively by: James Urie of Close CRM

How it helps remote teams: Gives reps the structure they need to work remotely, with the flexibility to help them adjust to their work-from-home lives.

2. Be more strategic with your 1:1s

Realize your reps are people: You can't take a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership in a remote setting (or any other for that matter).

Don't push or cancel 1:1's. Prepare an agenda, share it beforehand to get their thoughts and important items to cover, and then stick to it in the meeting. Then, listen and make notes. Try to understand their barriers.

Finally, create a plan and communicate how you'll help from what you're hearing, and then do it.

Used effectively by: Amy Volas of Avenue Talent Partners

How it helps remote teams: Prioritizing 1:1s with a clear structure helps show remote reps that you care and view them as important.

3. Build consistently inconsistent coaching

Do things differently than you had before when you were not remote. What you did in the office will not translate virtually, so make sure you are adapting.

One big piece for me is to make sure you are consistent in your coaching but inconsistent in how you go about your coaching. Make sure you are adding new wrinkles and develop coaching sessions that differ from week to week!

Used effectively by: Julian Marcuzzi of Predictable Revenue

How it helps remote teams: A structured but fresh approach to coaching will help keep remote reps engaged.

4. Use a live call coaching tool

I use call coaching tools that allow me to listen or participate in my team's calls in real-time. Being able to coach someone as the call is happening is a game-changer. We also debrief immediately after the call to share feedback and discuss the call while it's fresh in our minds.

Used effectively by: Nick Persico of Close CRM

How it helps remote teams: Real-time listening and coaching allow remote sales managers to keep a constant handle on their reps’ calls, and gives them a better perspective to coach from.

5. Hold people accountable in a fun way

We have a Monday morning standup, and public commitments are listed in a shared Google Doc. Each person gets checkmarks for when you hit your commitment.

If you don’t hit your commitment, there are fun consequences that are non-mandatory. One time, my consequence was eating only Greek yogurt for an entire day. We have fun, we all have a good time doing it.

(Listen to the full interview with Armand Farrokh on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

Used effectively by: Armand Farrokh of Pave

How it helps remote teams: Accountability is important, but never force your reps to be on the spot or make them feel as if they’re being scolded.

6. Generate a collaborative mood at the beginning of meetings

Jumping on a meeting, we take the first few minutes to loosen up, talk about general topics, catch up, then dive into the subject.

Sometimes people are a little bit too rigid: they’re just there to speak when spoken to. So build a collaborative atmosphere, start the meeting with an informal question to prompt a more collaborative brainstorming session. Throw them off guard with a general question like ‘Hey, who’s watching Tiger King?’

After the meeting, I’ll have a formal conclusion, but keep people on. Always end the meeting a little early. Allow them to debrief, decompress, talk about how they feel about the meeting’s content.

(Listen to the full interview with Dave Tuttle on the How to Succeed Podcast.)

Used effectively by: Dave Tuttle of ZipRecruiter

How it helps remote teams: Helps them get out of a rigid mindset and makes virtual sales meetings more collaborative.

7. Creatively celebrate your team’s wins and regularly check-in

Passively share your team's wins in a Slack channel. I try to send or coordinate thoughtful surprises to folks when they do something great. When they wow me, I try to wow them back.

Over-communicate on most everything. Reach out to each person individually every day, even if it's just to ask how things are going. Send reminders early and often.

Used effectively by: Nick Persico of Close CRM

How it helps remote teams: Celebrating the wins (even the small ones) keeps your remote sales team motivated.

8. Be more accessible to your team

A great way to illustrate that you care and are available is to set up office hours so your team can approach you outside of the 1:1 or team standup.

There should be less talking about being a great coach and more doing through the action you take and accessibility you create as a leader to meet your people where they are versus where you're trying to force them to be.

Used effectively by: Amy Volas of Avenue Talent Partners

How it helps remote teams: Accessible managers show their team they care and empower them to resolve their challenges collaboratively.

9. For larger sales teams, create times for smaller groups to meet

There are 1:1s and all-team standups, but we also need something in between. You can’t get a really good conversation going with 30 people.

Every week we rotate different groups and we do small group tape tear-downs. We’ll have 4-6 AEs in a room at a time, 1 AE will pull up one of their discovery tapes and will pause every 3 minutes and ask: ‘What should we have said?’ ‘How can we handle this competitor?’

As a leader, decide what needs to be handled 1:1, what can be done with 4-5, and what needs to be communicated 1-30.

(Listen to the full interview with Armand Farrokh on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

Used effectively by: Armand Farrokh of Pave

How it helps remote teams: Building smaller groups to brainstorm ideas and discuss calls helps managers scale their time while still generating good conversations with remote reps.

10. Encourage more structured feedback sessions

The best arrangement I’ve seen involves three steps:

Manager and rep call showing, plus feedback after the call.

Peer-to-peer call shadowing, and a brainstorming session after the call.

Finally, managers listen to 2 to 5 recorded calls or demos per rep, per week (depending on the size of the team) and send structured, documented feedback to the reps.

Remote sales friendly CRMs like Close come with built-in call recording and call coaching features. This way call feedback and coaching is part of the daily sales culture, and happens in a real-life setting.

Used effectively by: James Urie of Close CRM

How it helps remote teams: Feedback between managers and reps as well as peer brainstorming helps encourage collaboration between remote team members.

11. Double down on empathy

For me, it really comes down to empathy - it has never been more important to put yourself in your reps’ shoes and determine how you can engage each individual uniquely. You can't have a blanket approach here as what works for one team member might create the opposite behavior for another.

That said, there are a couple of things that I tend to focus on more so, as table stakes, in a remote culture:

First, make sure you are over-communicating on expectations and on the directional vision of the organization.

Secondly, make sure you are available to your team - don't push off meetings. FaceTime with each of your reps has never been more important and impactful.

Used effectively by: Julian Marcuzzi of Predictable Revenue

How it helps remote teams: Leading with empathy will help you train and coach reps as individuals, and give them the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed wherever they are in their career or life.

12. Enable SDRs to learn from each other

We do open-mat call reviews. This is optional Thursday morning, if you want to bring a call you can, the whole team comes in normally because it’s cool to listen to other people call.

You can’t tell reps to go listen to 10 cold calls on their own, you have to create an environment where your team can have that organic back-and-forth and listen to a call together.

The team gets calls together, they throw them on an Asana board, and we just crank through them one-by-one. I don’t want to have people listening to calls in a silo, I want to hear their opinions to make sure they’re thinking about calls the right way, and then help other reps think that same way.

(Listen to the full interview with Armand Farrokh on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

Used effectively by: Armand Farrokh of Pave

How it helps remote teams: By actively promoting peer learning on your team, you can turn these into productive brainstorming sessions where reps level-up their skills as a team.

13. Dig into what’s working

Every sales meeting starts with: What’s going right?

Get everyone involved, go around the table, so everyone’s engaged. It’s easy to find issues, but let’s start with what’s going right. I will stop the meeting in its agenda if someone brings up an experience, I will ask them to tell everyone more. Don’t just tell me the meeting was great, what was great about it?

Become a better facilitator instead of a director or a teacher. Build a culture where your team knows that your meetings are about team learning, it’s a priority every week.

Talk less, ask more.

(Listen to the full interview with Rene Zamora on the Predictable Revenue Podcast.)

Used effectively by: Rene Zamora of Sales Manager Now

How it helps remote teams: Reps learn from each other, every meeting is team learning.

14. Build a process for tribal knowledge transfer

One of the advantages you get when you sit with people day-to-day in the same office, sharing the same water cooler and having lunchtime interactions and conversations, is that there’s a lot of knowledge transfer that happens just fluidly. When people watch their peers work, they gain that knowledge almost in a tribal sense.

You can have great documentation of your process. You can have everything from flow charts, Google docs, and a plethora of information that’s shared throughout the team about best practices, but sales reps really learn by mirroring and imitating the best of that group.

So, I think that one of the important things is to create a holistic learning environment that doesn’t just rely on sharing good calls, sharing best practices, sharing calls of the week.

Those are things we do, but reps should also sit in and work deals together sometimes. Then they’ll understand what’s really effective messaging because they can hear it, and they can see it. It’s not just about someone telling them, “Say this,” it’s really about understanding your customer. This drives home the value of certain tasks, especially in our business.

(Listen to the full interview with Derek Rahn on the Modern Sales Podcast.)

Used effectively by: Derek Rahn of Lead Genius

How it helps remote teams: Replaces the fluid knowledge transfer you get in-office with something that’s structured and actually works for remote teams.

15. Build out your CRM alongside your remote team

Implement CRM with your team and continue to tweak over time. Think: what do your salespeople need from the CRM system?

Don’t just build something and roll it out. Your sales team will feel that nobody knows what they need or what they want, that nobody asked them. This is especially the case with international teams working through cultural differences. Get the team involved when building out these systems and processes.

In one remote team I knew, this was always the joke when new systems were rolled out: “Oh yeah, this came from that country.” When it’s coming from another country, salespeople might think, “Oh, this isn’t adapted to our country’s market.”

Build it together, and each salesperson has ownership in the system and process.

(Listen to the full interview with Rebecca Twomey on the Let’s Talk Sales podcast.)

Used effectively by: Rebecca Twomey of Party Center Software

How it helps remote teams: Give your remote team ownership over the process, and they’ll feel more motivated to follow that process in their day-to-day.

Pro tip: Want a CRM that does the heavy lifting while staying out of your way? Your free trial of Close CRM is waiting (we won’t even ask for your credit card number)!

16. Make training part of a predictable schedule

You need to keep people engaged and communicating, especially now. You need to implement a clear structure from day one. That way, people come in with expectations, they’re in a routine, and they plan their lives around these team meetings and activities. To build predictable revenue, you need predictability in your team and in everything that you do.

For us, here’s what this looks like: Monday morning standup, Wednesday is a skill-building activity with the team, then dial blitzers and quick standups with the team to keep people fresh during the week.

(Listen to the full interview with Armand Farrokh on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

Used effectively by: Armand Farrokh of Pave

How it helps remote teams: Predictability breeds stability for your remote team.

Pro tip: In Close CRM, a sales leaderboard is automatically set up on your Activity Overview dashboard. You can customize the leaderboard based on the activities you want to track, such as the number of outbound calls, call duration, meetings held, SMS or email sent, response rates, and more.

6 sales games for remote teams to keep your salespeople unified

Whether you’re looking for team-building activities or games to keep your reps’ sales skills sharp, these ideas will give you a good place to start when organizing games for your remote sales team.

1. Skill-Builder

We group together games to build specific skills that can translate to reps’ day-to-day activities. An example of this would be a game around negotiation (such as the Ugli Orange activity).

Used effectively by: Julian Marcuzzi of Predictable Revenue

2. Friendly incentive

For a standard team of 3+ reps hustling to close deals, competition is motivating.

A good friendly competition with leader incentives would be: Make X calls, create X opportunities, win X opportunities, hold X qualified demos, and get a $25 gift card.

Used effectively by: Used effectively by: James Urie of Close

Pro tip: Did you know you can use Close CRM to set up a leaderboard based on the goals you want to set for your team? Arrange your top sales reps by the number of calls they’ve made, emails they’ve sent, responses they’ve received, minutes they spent on the phone with prospects, deals they closed, and more!

3. Cold call bingo

In a twist on the classic Bingo game, reps take turns making cold calls while the rest of the team listens. Then, the team fills out their Bingo cards with common sales methods and conversation milestones.

4. Pictionary

We love to do team-building, fun activities. To either lighten the mood, have a laugh, enhance the culture, or break some redundancy, we often end up doing a Pictionary-type game found at Drawize.

Used effectively by: Julian Marcuzzi of Predictable Revenue

5. Gamified cold calling

Assign points to different steps in the call, such as making the lead laugh, scheduling a follow-up call, getting an email address, etc. Reps team up, with one calling and the other keeping track of the score.

6. Sales Jeopardy!

Use the template to create your own Jeopardy! sales game. This could be a quiz about your product, your customers, your competitors, sales processes, and more. Sales Jeopardy! is especially good to help new onboards in a more fun, interactive way.

Empower your team with the right mindset to close more deals

Remote sales coaching and training isn’t once and done: You’ll need to take time to get feedback, adjust, and refine your processes.

The important thing is to just get started.

Set up a regular structure for coaching and training. Build a routine that your reps can follow and plan their lives around. Show true empathy and be available for your reps.

When you follow these key practices, you’ll be imitating the top-tier remote sales managers who are currently crushing it, even while selling remotely.

Of course, in order to truly empower your team, more than mindset is needed: You’ll also need to enable them with the right tools for the job.

Jump ahead to Chapter 4 to see the top remote sales tools you should add to your sales stack →

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