Sales teams are often remote workforces. Under the current conditions, with many businesses practicing social distancing, almost all are working from home. It's required. This move to a remote workforce has presented sales leaders with unique challenges, especially when it comes to running effective sales training programs.
The following are four ways you can help increase the engagement and performance of your remote sales reps in these unique circumstances.
1. Provide Knowledge Reinforcement Through Microlearning
Sales leaders no longer have the option to conduct traditional classroom training sessions. They’ve had to adjust to a digital learning format, and it is an excellent option.
Microlearning uses two concepts — the spacing and testing effects — proven to help remote sales reps regularly commit new information to memory through constant reinforcement, assessment, feedback, explanation, and coaching. This type of continuous learning comprises the basis of Qstream’s microlearning strategy, which is scientifically proven to increase knowledge retention in the workplace better than standard one-off assessments. With a continuous sales training and knowledge reinforcement strategy, remote sales reps are provided with constant updates of training content to help them recall the most important information in any given situation.
2. Promote Team Collaboration
It’s critical for sales reps in remote offices to have the opportunity for team collaboration. With a remote sales team, collaboration between sales leaders and sales reps is more important than ever. In a recent study, the Sales Management Association found that only 35% of sales training is led by a joint effort between sales leaders and salespeople, so you can only imagine how low that number must be when working remotely.
A lack of collaboration in sales training programs disconnects sales leaders from the rest of the team. With little or no collaboration, there will be a gap in developing sales training topics that sales reps know they need, versus what sales leaders think they need. Working together on the sales training program not only increases engagement, but it also helps set cross-functional goals that focus on closing sales knowledge and skill gaps to improve remote sales reps performance.
3. Provide Data-Driven Coaching
The most common challenge of sales leaders is keeping their remote sales team productive and engaged in learning programs. If this challenge is not addressed, it can have a negative impact on performance and organizational success.
At its core, coaching is rather straightforward: help sales reps improve both what they do and how they do it. But it’s not a simple process. Coaching requires sales leaders to know what reps are doing, understand why they are doing it, and help them improve their knowledge and skills.
The best sales coaching should be: timely, accurate, relevant, consistent, and customized. For many sales leaders, this means setting up a regular cadence of virtual meetings with reps to better understand how they are selling, keep up with their progress against key goals and hopefully, eliminate any negative surprises. Few management teams have access to the sales performance data and insights they need to make a determination of who, what, when and how to coach. But with best practice microlearning, sales leaders are able to address the remote coaching challenge.
Using microlearning for remote sales training programs sorts and analyzes the daily scenario-based challenge Q&A responses of reps to deliver real-time dashboards. This allows sales leaders to quickly and easily see how their remote sales teams are performing on any number of dimensions or content topics. With this data, sales leaders are able to target specific coaching opportunities and take action to address knowledge or skill gaps. This ensures that virtual coaching sessions can be tailored to each individual sales rep based on their performance.
4. Encourage Healthy Competition
Most sales professionals are competitive by nature, and it’s the desire to be at the top of their game that motivates them to succeed quarter after quarter. Even the most self-motivated reps can benefit from a healthy dose of competition versus their peers, but this can be difficult to maintain when the whole sales team is remote and dispersed across the globe.
With microlearning, built-in game mechanics such as points scoring and leaderboards foster a productive sense of competition. Sales reps can be grouped into any combination of teams to compete for top scores on virtual leaderboards and user-wide rankings based on the rep's daily activity. Integrated communication templates and comment tools also allow managers to easily recognize winning performance, or send a quick message to remote individuals or entire teams.
Distance doesn’t have to be a roadblock to building and maintaining a high-performing sales team. In a time where all sales reps are working remotely, sales leaders need to close the gap between teams, especially when it comes to learning and coaching. Being aware of the potential risks, and having the right tools and processes in place can make all the difference, and ensure your remote sales team is engaged, and ready to meet their goals.
If you’re interested in improving engagement of remote sales reps, request a demo to learn more how Qstream’s best-practice microlearning platform increases learner engagement, improves knowledge retention, and provides learning analytics for your remote sales training programs.