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The Coaching Effect Blog

    The Ultimate Sales Manager Action Plan for Effective Remote Coaching

    by Bill Eckstrom / August 3, 2020
    Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography
    It looks like remote managing and coaching is here to stay. Just last week we heard from companies and leaders who are pushing back their return-to-work procedures, while others are deciding not to return at all. Some of those headlines read: 
    • Gartner recently surveyed CSOs showing that a remarkable 23% reported plans to permanently shift field sales to virtual sales roles, and another 36% said they were unsure.
    • Google will keep its employees home until at least next July 2021. 
    • Twitter CEO says employees can work from home 'forever' — even after pandemic. 

    Sounds like managing and coaching remote teams will be sticking around. Thankfully, helping remote leaders has been at the center of what we do at EcSell Institute. Better yet, the company began serving sales departments which everyone knows is the the epicenter of remote work based on the nature of the job. That said, we've helped thousands of employees and mangers work through the obstacles of remote coaching and communication pitfalls. We've even done studies on it.

    Get the Remote Management Readiness Checklist

    MotivationSome of our most recent research proves that leaders who have been working to develop their coaching skills are having particular success guiding their teams through this pandemic, specifically organizations who have previously invested in the development of their leaders’ coaching and leadership skills.
    Employees in these organizations are twice as likely to strongly agree that their leaders have shared a clear plan to navigate the impact of COVID-19 and are 59% more likely to strongly agree they’re confident that their senior leadership will effectively guide their company through the COVID-19 pandemic. HBR also recently showed about 40% of the 215 supervisors and managers in our study expressed low self-confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely. 
    What does all that mean?
    Companies that have invested in educating their leaders on how to be better leaders are receiving higher marks from their employees at this time. While this result is not surprising, it underscores the need for companies to provide ongoing leadership development so their leaders have the knowledge and skills they need to guide and support their teams during a time of crisis.

    Here are 6 tips To support Effective Sales Management And Remote Sales Coaching: 

    1 - Have Open Communication

    Be as open as possible about your business health and plans. Anxious employees are less productive and team members will be more anxious if they feel their company’s future is uncertain. To the greatest degree you can, be open about the impact of COVID-19 on your business and the steps your company is taking to mitigate potential damage.
    Knowing where the business stands will drive clarity, as well as motivate team members to support the company’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts fully. Simply put, they will better understand the importance of making fiscally sound decisions and working hard to execute all key strategies.

    2 - Set New Goals and Revise Your Sales Action Plan

    If current goals have become unattainable, keeping them in place can actually demotivate employees. This is because the employees start to feel like no matter what they do, they can’t reach the desired result, so they don’t put in the same effort. And since the current focus for leaders should be helping each of their team members perform at the optimal level they can, having them define challenging goals they can actually achieve is essential.
    To inspire the most action, you and your leaders should emphasize setting goals and measuring activity in areas that are entirely within each employees’ control.

    3 - Assess and Address Your Managers' Effectiveness 

    Simply put, we begin with measurement to establish a baseline from which to assess progress and improvement over time. The most important way that we measure our clients’ coaching acumen and execution is by administering The Coaching Effect Survey.
    By asking team members about the consistency and effectiveness of the coaching they receive, we are better able to understand their organization’s current coaching environment. This not only helps us establish a baseline of performance but also allows us to tailor our recommendations and coaching process to better meet their needs.

    "I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition." - Bill Gates 

    4 - Educate and Train Your Managers On Remote Sales Coaching

    In today’s business environment, becoming complacent with your employees’ current knowledge, actions, and skill sets is a surefire way to begin the demise of your organization. Continual development—giving up old skills and learning new ones—is absolutely critical to individual and organizational growth. Without moving forward, stagnation sets in. This TEDx Talk speaks to just that - How to not let comfort ruin your life! 
    Education and training is a crucial component of a manager’s growth journey. After you established an organization’s coaching baseline with an assessment like the survey, begin education on best practices. This step helps build emotional commitment to coaching improvement, so that coaches actually want to implement the new ideas they learn.

    Join our upcoming remote management training course

    It’s important that training and education is not a PowerPoint-and-quiz type of event, as you are trying to get managers to give up their preconceived notions and make changes in the way they coach. We provide a quarterly training with limited spots, or a company specific training (online or onsite) if interested. Learn more about our training here

    5 - Reinforce. Reinforce. Reinforce! 

    It is easy to say, “Go forth and execute,” but if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be writing about this step. Unfortunately, a desire for order reigns supreme. Even after education and training on how to coach better, venturing into complexity is too uncomfortable. By default, most coaches return to old habits and behaviors.
    We’ve found that the best way to combat this tendency is to create a collaborative implementation environment that is driven by bringing together people who are trying to improve their coaching behavior. We refer to these conference-call gatherings as implementation huddles. The focus of these huddles is on the continued sharing of best coaching practices and open discussion of the challenges to overcome in improving coaching. The huddles are jointly led by experts on our client-service team and leaders within our client organizations, but you can create your own internal huddles however you see fit.

    6 - Track and Analyze the Quantity and Quality of Sales Coaching From Your Managers

    If you wear an activity tracker, such as an Apple watch, Garmin, or FitBit, you know how humbling it is at the end of the day to see how much you actually moved. The same should go for managers. Tracking their behaviors and the quality and quantity of coaching they are executing is crucial to understanding their effectiveness each day, month, and quarter.
    In most companies we study, coaches are doing only 54 percent of the necessary coaching activities. Further, when they are coaching their team members, 45 percent of coaches are falling short of the coaching quality standards they need to achieve in order to hit their performance goals. And remember, these are the percentages for coaches who work for companies that have committed to a measurable coaching process. Imagine what coaches are doing in companies that have no coaching process, no measurement, and no accountability for coaching.
    When we considered the average sales goals of these coaches, this translated to $4.1 million left on the table due to inadequate coaching. If you were the CEO at one of these organizations, how would you feel about this? What would your business stakeholders think if you shared this data with them?
    The solution is a tracking platform like the ONE-UP coaching platform. There are similar platforms out there, but ONE-UP is the only one that can tie manager and employee performance to sales goal attainment.

    Most decisions are not binary, and there are usually better answers waiting to be found if you do the analysis and involve the right people. - Jamie Dimon

    Overall, it’s important organizations know how difficult their employees are finding it to perform right now. What employees say they need the most is a better understanding of the impact of a crisis on their company, and new ideas or resources to help them achieve their goals. Bottom-line, America’s employees believe in their leaders, but they are craving clear plans to address the challenges before them, as well as achievable goals to rally around. It is essential that their leaders provide this clarity for the sake of their employees and the future of their companies by following the tips listed above. 
    Remote management is sticking around, for a little longer anyway. Are you, or your managers, prepared? 
    Remote Management Readiness Checklist

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    Tags: Employee Engagement Covid-19 Resources Management Training Program

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    Bill Eckstrom

    Bill Eckstrom

    William Eckstrom is the CEO and Founder of the Ecsell Institute. Bill has spent his entire career in the sales management and leadership arena. In 2008, he founded Ecsell Institute to fill a void he witnessed and personally experienced in the sales leadership profession. He's went on to present a viral TEDx Talk and co-authored the best-selling book, "The Coaching Effect."