Reps Need Coaching on Virtual Selling

BY Kathy Crosett
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Have your reps struggled to close deals since the pandemic started? To make their numbers, reps need coaching on virtual selling. The economic turmoil brought on by the COVID-​19 outbreak caused many buyers to hit the pause button. And they found it much easier to dodge sellers because they didn’t have to meet face-​to-​face. It may be a while before your reps can get into the offices of your top prospects and clients, but you can help them improve their virtual selling skills.

The Challenges of Virtual Selling

New research from Gartner shows that 23% of B2B sales reps believe they make an impact while selling virtually. That dismal statistic is overshadowed by the fact that 58% of these reps are actually getting coaching specifically on how to excel in virtual selling. What could be going wrong?

Gartner analysts dug deeper into the problem to get an answer. Their survey findings indicate that “inconsistent coaching culture” and a lack of “coaching technology” contribute to the reps’ sales performance problems. These findings make sense. Most managers don’t have enough time to consistently coach their reps, even if the activity has been linked to an “8% improvement in sales performance.” Managers probably also lack the right tools to coach.

The Need for Personalized Coaching

The best one-​on-​one coaching sessions require a manager to fully understand what a specific rep is struggling with. Not only that, they should also have insight into the rep’s work style and underlying motivation. Without that information, a manager won’t know how to suggest ways for the rep to improve their prospecting style, if that is a specific skill requiring improvement. Managers can access that information by reviewing the results of the sales skills assessments their reps have taken.

Adding Technology to Sales Coaching

Your managers and reps can benefit from your organization’s investment in a sales skills assessment system. A good assessment system should feed results into a microcoaching platform. Trying to personalize sales coaching without using technology will require too much time. And managers often find it too challenging to track what each rep is working on unless they have access to an easy-​to-​use system.

In our Voice of the Sales Manager survey, 59% of sales managers agree that coachability is a key attribute they look for when hiring reps. During their regular coaching sessions with reps, only 46% of managers always focus on sales skills improvement. And just over 40% of these sessions include working on people skills. Managers definitely prioritize the idea of coaching, but they can’t always carry out their intentions.

Reps Need Coaching on Virtual Selling

Your reps may be selling virtually for the next several months and they need to impress prospects in new ways. Garner analysts suggest that coaching should emphasize “customer engagement, digital dexterity and data literacy.”

When you give your sales teams access to a technology-​based coaching platform, you’re saving managers time. And you’re encouraging reps to take responsibility for some of their professional development. Using this kind of platform, they can review content that is personalized to their needs and they can change their approach in order to succeed in a virtual selling environment.