While it’s still too soon to say what the post-pandemic world will look like, it’s clear that the last two years have brought forth a whirlwind of change. Some of the biggest conferences and events went virtual, outside sales reps had to find new ways to connect with prospects, and even inside sales teams had to rethink their entire approach.
When the pandemic first began, remote work took the world by storm. Within just a couple of weeks, millions of people took their roles and responsibilities virtual and discovered the many ups and downs of working from home. Over time, two things became increasingly clear:
The pandemic wasn’t going away any time soon
Remote work can be beneficial to both employees and employers
Now that things are slowly going back to normal, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay. But the question is, to what extent?
Many companies are going all-in on the return to the office, while others are going fully remote. But the hybrid model offers the best of both worlds. It allows companies to capture all of the collaborative and cultural benefits of office work and merge them with the flexibility and convenience of remote work.
But despite the many positives, this approach poses many challenges for sales coaching – How do you keep your team on track for your targets when some reps are working from home and others are in the office? How do you motivate your sales team if you’re not all in the same room? How do you foster company culture across a distributed team?
While we don’t have all of the answers, we do have something that may be helpful. We’ve compiled a list of best practices that will help you navigate sales coaching in a hybrid world and sail your team into sales success.
Even the most confident sellers might feel a bit uncomfortable with the transition to remote selling. But if you want to help them get back on their feet, you need to create an environment where they’re comfortable sharing obstacles and roadblocks they’re facing. A relationship with open lines of communication empowers your reps to seek advice when they need it, address shortcomings before they worsen, and ask questions that will help them do their job better.
Track sales activities
The benefits of tracking your sales activities are obvious: crystal clear insights into your sales operation and better informed decisions at each step of your sales process. Keeping track of all of your reps, deals, and activities wasn’t easy before hybrid work became popular, but now it’s nearly impossible without some outside help.
Fortunately, there are a number of sales tracking software solutions that can help you dig into the data behind your operation and pull out answers to your most important questions. With the right software, you’ll be able to see which reps are doing well, which are falling behind, where they’re having issues, how other reps are overcoming them, and much, much more. Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be able to tailor your approach to coaching each rep.
The days of training videos, lengthy documents, and boring manuals are long gone. Or at least they should be. Now more than ever, people favor (and learn better from) short, bitesize content that’s easy to consume and recall. Rather than handing reps an entire course load worth of training content (that they’ll almost certainly forget), use apps, short videos, or easily digestible content to get your message across more effectively. When smaller bits of information are used and repeated by reps, they become more likely to be remembered.
Invest in tech
With your team distributed across who knows how many offices, cities, or even countries, it’s more important than ever to be able to collaborate effectively. Email, of course, is indispensable, but there are a few other tools that are quickly becoming essential for coaching remote and hybrid sales teams:
For better communication: Zoom, Slack, Teams
For improved collaboration: Asana, Mondays, Trello
For pipeline management: Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho
For maximizing revenue potential: Outreach, Gong, Clari
No matter your budget, there are a number of free tools that you can integrate into your tech stack to more effectively manage and coach your sales team.
With the increase in competition that came with the rise in remote hiring, many professionals are looking to hone their skills to reach new goals and pursue new heights. Giving your reps opportunities to learn and grow can help motivate them and improve at their role, which brings you closer to your targets as a manager. Training programs, accreditations, clear growth trajectories, and stipends for personal/professional improvement are all great ways to help your employees grow.
No two reps are the same, and no two opportunities present the same challenges. In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales coaching in a hybrid world. Some reps might work from the office more than others, while others might work best on their own without much internal interaction. But unless you address each rep individually, it’s nearly impossible to understand how they work, what motivates them, the challenges they face, and how you can help them.
Improve your selling experience
Buyer behaviors have changed. Big time. Much like B2C buying, B2B buyers are now doing a great deal of research on their own, often before they even interact with a rep. And once they do make contact, they have high expectations – an understanding of their business, the reason why your solution is better than your competitors’, personalized interactions, and much, much more. If you (and your team) want to keep up with the changing times, your reps need to become easier to buy from.
You can start by leveraging sales data to support your reps with the information they need to wow their prospects and making use of discovery sessions to build rapport with potential clients, but if you want to go a step further, you could even consider restructuring your sales org to align with buyer demand.
Take care of yourself
Whether in-office or at home, sales leaders work closely with reps to ensure they’re motivated and confident in their role. And if they begin to show signs of burnout, good leaders are there to step in and help get them back on track.
But leading a sales team is a stressful job, too. And yet, most sales leaders don’t receive the same support that reps do. Sales leader burnout is a real thing, and it can hurt your team’s productivity and ability to reach quotas. If you want your reps to be at their best, you need to lead by example. If you want to be at your best, it's important that you take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, setting boundaries, and practicing self care. But beyond that, you'll need to craft an environment and build a team that aligns with your goals and core values.
Hybrid work presents a myriad of opportunities in the sales world, and we’re excited to see what the future holds. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Like every other aspect of sales, there are numerous challenges to coordinating a sales team made up of a mix of remote and in-office reps. If you want to reap the benefits of the hybrid model, it’s important to put your reps first to ensure they’re comfortable, capable, and confident whether they’re at home or in the office.