8 Top Tips to Adapt your Coaching for Remote
It looks like our changing working patterns may be somewhat here to stay so that makes it even more important to adpat our coaching approach and rhythm to a new remote working reality.
Top Tip #1 : Commit to a regular coaching schedule
Let’s be clear, coaching moments here and there, over a cup of tea, or while in the car on the way to a meeting are no longer possible, and may never return, so now is the time to adapt your 1-2-1 coaching.
I’d suggest an hour with each of your team every week or every other week but whatever works for you and your situation.
Make sure it is separate to forecast calls or opportunity reviews and is focused on coaching… it should be prioritised and sacrosanct. Don’t go cancelling it unless there’s a true emergency.
Top Tip #2: Agree the Goal
Start with setting the goal…What does good look like for the individual? What do they want to achieve?
Yes, it’s important to understand how that aligns with the goals and competencies for their role but this is all about them.
When things are in flux, like they may be for some time to come, keep the goal short term. E.g. what do they want to achieve in the next 3 months... If their goal is longer term, break it down to what can be done within the next 3 months to impact that goal. It’s important now more than ever to have shorter achievable bursts.
Top Tip #3: Preparation & Planning
Make sure you give your rep the information and time to prepare in advance of the first session – it is essential that they are driving the conversation, not you.
Use the first session to a) understand their goal (and help them fine tune it if necessary) and b) to assess the reality of where they are now against that goal. So essentially, this is where I am now and this is where I want to be…
Let’s take Sam. His goal is “to be a prospecting ninja” – now after clarifying what that means, during our initial coaching discussion, the reality is “today he is struggling to convert his calls into meetings”.
You’ve now got the opening to start planning HOW Sam is going to overcome this challenge.
Top Tip #4: PUT IT IN WRITING!
People are more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. You can then use this as your North Star in every coaching conversation – it should be front and centre and referred to often.
Top Tip #5: Set Clear Objectives
To see value and progress from your coaching sessions, it’s a good idea to set objectives between each session that support the goals you’ve agreed.
Accountability for progress is key otherwise each coaching session becomes groundhog Day or a lovely chat about the weather and the latest covid memes...
Use the SMART objective approach – Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound…
For example, Sam’s goal was “to be a prospecting ninja”, so our coaching sessions may focus on problem discovery and solution pitch. I may set an objective to “role play an example call with Eric focusing on uncovering problems” and let’s get it done by next Tuesday.
Aim to allocate at least 1 objective that can be completed between now and your next session but remember the ‘Achievable’ in SMART.
Top Tip #6: Play to Team Strengths
Play to your team strengths and build a shared coaching culture while you’re at it.
Each and every one of your team will have at least one area they are strong in – Identify it, and use it to create a supportive and shared learning environment (and take some of the pressure off you).
Some ideas to get you started:
- Development Objectives - Include objectives that support others as part of your 1-2-1 coaching, based on their strengths. For example, Eric is a great prospecting role model so that’s why he’s been assigned the objective to complete Sam’s role play.
- Blog it - Have each team member write a blog on their particular strength – this could be a skill, behaviour or approach that works well for them. It could be a win story for a previous great deal (marketing and enablement will value this hugely too).
- Competency Based Mentoring - Mentor programs work extremely well when they are structured but it doesn’t have to be a major program. Pair people up based on skill strengths for a particular objective or goal, not a long term mentor relationship…
- Group Coaching - Pick a topic and have a group learning session – give this as an objective for one of your team to own and deliver.
Top Tip #7: Assess & Feedback
If you are going to set objectives, make a commitment as a leader to review and feedback.
If your sales rep is putting the time and effort in to improve, you need to provide structured and regular feedback.
Schedule time to listen to that role play with Eric prior to your next session so you can have a meaningful coaching discussion.
Use a coaching feedback structure >> I use “what worked…”, “what didn’t work…”, “what was missing…”.
Use the feedback to drive the next objective e.g. the role play with Eric showed that Sam struggled with the transition from problems to solution >> the next objective might be to do a mentor pairing with a Senior in the team who’s strong in that respect to learn from them.
In my mind this part of coaching just got easier. I’m no longer having to travel to face to face meetings for observation or be that lurker in the background not really taking part. I can schedule in time to suit my diary to review Zoom videos of demos, customer meetings and even role plays that I’ve set for the team. I can do the same with call recordings.
Our customers set video challenges for their teams. For example, set them a common meeting objection and have them record how they would respond. Have them practice their pencil pitches for your product sets.
It replaces the usual ‘in person’ observation but it adds a little gamification to it too. Better still, you can share for peer review and feedback too.
Top Tip #8: Measure the Outcomes
You need to measure the outcomes so you can understand the effectiveness of your coaching – this is an often missed step in any coaching program or tends to be too loose to correlate.
When you set that goal (Top Tip #2) agree how you’ll know that you’ve reached the destination and the measures you will use.
For example Sam wants to be “a prospecting Ninja” – how are you both going to know he’s reached that goal?
It could be that his call:meeting ratio improves by 50% or he is consistently overachieving his meeting target.
Don’t just focus on the final destination, have some leading indicators along the way that will track where you are on the journey.
Are his call conversions tracking in the right direction? Is the feedback from his Account Exec positive? Are the meetings better quality?
You can have both quantitative and qualitative measures but make sure they are objective and not reliant on ‘gut feel’.
Kate has over 20 years’ experience in sales leadership & transformation within cyber security and technology companies, building, developing and managing high performing sales teams. As both a former VP of Sales and Sales Trainer, Kate has seen the challenges from all angles and, as a result, is passionate about training, developing and...