Best practices to lead and coach your remote sales team

Jun 11, 2021

Read. 15 min.

Best practices to lead and coach your remote sales team

48% of sales professionals admit they’re less productive than they used to be. With more sales teams moving to remote working than ever before, this is likely due to a lack of direction and coaching.

If remote sales teams aren’t sure how to carry out their roles, they won’t meet expectations.

However, leading a remote sales team isn’t the same as leading an in-office team. You’ll need the right tools and techniques to aid communication and support collaboration.

This article will look specifically at:

Here are some useful best practices to effectively coach and lead your remote sales team.

Why is coaching so important for remote sales teams?

63% of sales professionals say they’re confident in their company’s ability to hire and train the right people.


Graph: 63% of sales professionals are confident in their organization's ability to train/reskill reps


However, with more and more sales teams moving to remote selling, sales coaching is changing.

Up until now, 91% of salespeople say that they got their sales training on the job. Since remote workers aren’t in an office full of experienced salespeople, it’s a little harder for them to learn as they go.

Not only is it harder to hold training sessions and learn from others when workers aren’t in the office, but remote sales also require different training as there are new tools and alternative ways of working.

For example, 77% of sales teams are holding more virtual sales meetings. This means salespeople not only need training to conduct a sales meeting, but they also need to be trained on how to use video conferencing software. 

But here’s the thing — training is essential if you want to create top-performers.

Research shows that top-performing salespeople spend more time training with managers than low-performers. 

In this respect, it’s vital for sales managers to find ways to coach remote teams, even though they’re not in the office.

Read on to learn some of the best practices for leading your remote sales teams.

8 best practices to coach your sales team to success

If you want top-performers, you need top training tactics to lead your salespeople to success. Try these.

1. Clearly communicate expectations

91% of sales professionals from high-performing teams say that their manager clearly communicates business priorities, compared to only 73% on underperforming teams.


Graph: 88% of sales professionals say their manager has clearly communicated business priorities.


When managers communicate business priorities and expectations, salespeople can better focus efforts on meeting these requirements. If sales teams are unsure about what to concentrate on, you may find their focus is scattered, and results are inconsistent. 

The issue of unclear expectations is especially prevalent among remote workers. 34% of remote workers agree that they could benefit from more communication on work expectations.

2. Set up dedicated communication channels

While 63% of sales reps use a formal reporting channel to share progress with management, 37% don’t.

If you don’t have clear communication channels, it’s difficult to get a full picture of what’s happening. Not only do sales managers miss out on progress, but salespeople also find it challenging to communicate with other team members.

This is especially important when your sales team is working remotely, as they won’t be able to swing by a colleague's desk to ask a question or collect relevant documentation.

That’s why 39% of remote workers say their organization would benefit from better communication tools.

39% of remote workers say their organization would benefit from better communication tools.


In fact, the caliber of your communication tools directly impacts sales performance. Top-performing sales teams are more likely to use enterprise communication tools compared to low-performers.

If you want your sales teams to be able to communicate progress and collaborate effectively, you need top-shelf communication tools that facilitate easy conversation and make it simple to share and find sales documentation.

3. Invest in sales tools

To put it plainly, 97% of sales reps say that sales tools are important to their job.

Right now, 84% of sales teams use a CRM, 56% actively use sales enablement tools, and 49% of top-performers use sales intelligence tools.


Graph: 84% of sales teams use a CRM


Sales tools help your team get better insights into customer requirements and behaviors. They enable more consistent service throughout the sales cycle, leading to higher conversion rates.

This is why more salespeople who use a CRM reach their targets than those who don’t. 

That said, one-third of organizations still aren’t using sales reporting and analytics tools, and 64% of sales reps say it’s still challenging to access customer insights.

If you want your sales team, remote or otherwise, to convert more customers, you need to facilitate their access to customer insights.

On top of that, sales managers need to think about the additional sales tools that remote teams may need.

81% of sales reps say that technology needs have changed considerably in the last few years, with video conferencing tools becoming more important than ever before.

4. Encourage team collaboration

Collaboration enables sales teams to pool their strengths and work together to close deals.

However, 45% of remote workers say their top concern is the challenge of collaborating remotely.

In practical terms, 43% of remote workers say they find it tough to participate in meetings when everyone is remote, and 41% of remote workers say that the way they collaborate with teams has changed significantly.

This is potentially problematic for a sales team, as big deals often require the involvement of multiple salespeople. Not only do salespeople need to collaborate throughout negotiations, but they also need to work together on documentation and contracts.

This is why 69% of firms are using sales collaboration tools, such as a project management platform, revenue management tools, and contract management software.

Sales collaboration tools enable your sales team to discuss deals, collaborate on documentation, and hold team meetings remotely. 

As a leader, it’s your job to facilitate this collaboration so teams can work together to close deals.

5. Build trust with your sales reps

To best coach your sales reps, you need to understand the hurdles they’re facing. But if you fail to build a trusting relationship, sales reps are unlikely to open up about what they find difficult.

In fact, only 6% of salespeople talk to managers about the pressure of sales activities, plus nearly a quarter of sales reps say that their manager doesn’t understand their day-to-day challenges. 

No wonder 70% of salespeople say they feel under-appreciated.

To build a trusting relationship, you need to organize regular one-on-one sessions that facilitate two-way feedback. 

Graph: 51% of salespeople have developed skills based on feedback from managers


Use these sessions to foster an open, honest environment to provide key insights into how they can improve. After all, 51% of salespeople say they’ve developed their sales skills due to feedback from management.

It’s also possible to use these sessions for sales reps to voice their concerns. Right now, 16% of remote workers say their organization only asks for feedback on improving their working experience once a year. 11% say their company never asks at all.

Remember to use this time to recognize their hard work and praise them for their accomplishments. 

Remember that there’s more than one way to improve employee-related trust. For example, you could offer benefits like virtual credit card services or honor their day-off requests. Don’t overlook the many ways you can build a transparent workforce.

6. Monitor employee performance

The problem with having a sales team work remotely is that you can’t always keep an eye on what they’re up to, and you don’t see all the work they put in. This is why 36% of remote workers feel that their manager doesn’t see the full scope of their work.

To combat this issue, 51% of organizations use combined data to assess each salesperson’s performance.

Remember, though; sales quotas don’t tell the whole story.

While 37% of organizations measure a sales rep’s performance on whether they’ve met their quota, 43% measure their performance based on customer satisfaction, and 40% measure it based on customer retention. 


Graph: 37% of organizations measure sales rep performance based on individual quota


Salespeople need to put as much work into customer retention as they put into selling to new customers; otherwise, you’ll lose repeat business.

If you’re only looking at sales quotas for new customers, you won’t notice whether sales reps need to improve customer retention or customer satisfaction.

7. Create repeatable sales processes

Building a sales process that’s repeatable makes it easier to train new staff. If they simply follow the same instructions each time, you can guarantee consistent outcomes. 

It’s also easier to analyze a consistent, repeatable process to see what’s causing bottlenecks and where it can be improved.

Currently, only 44% of organizations expect sales reps to use defined protocols and processes. The issue for the other 56% is that giving sales staff flexibility in how they carry out the process makes it hard to see which behaviors create bottlenecks or lead to deals falling through.

One way to establish clear, repeatable processes to streamline sales workflows is to introduce sales order automation tools. 

8. Study your top performers

By studying your top-performing sales reps, you can get a picture of what works best with your target audience.

As Joseph DiMisa, Sales Effectiveness and Rewards Leader at Korn Ferry, explains, “World-class sales organizations study their top performers to gain insights on performance improvement opportunities.[...]These sales organizations look at the sales process, where a rep spends his or her time, and the unique skills, traits, drivers, and abilities that are being demonstrated on a consistent basis. Then, they hope to replicate these attributes through building a success profile to assess and motivate the mid-level performers.” 

If you want to know what works and what doesn’t, focus on the tactics your top 20% of performers use and teach your low-performers to use these methods.

Lead your remote sales team to success

Remote sales teams need just as much training as in-office teams; only the coaching process needs a few tweaks. 

Since your team is spread out, you’ll not only need to focus on facilitating clear communication and collaboration, you’ll also need to find effective sales tools that make it easy for the whole team to work together on closing deals remotely.


Start wowing buyers and hitting quotas now