A business valuation professional must be an effective communicator. To have a successful practice, you…
Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Covid-related travel restrictions and widespread work from home policies have led to a dilemma: How can you effectively migrate critical in-person training programs to other formats? What happens when you have to get off the field and into the press box to coach?
BV leaders tend to think that face-to-face observation and feedback is the way to influence employees’ behaviors and improve their overall skills. Likewise, for business development training, most BV leaders assume that improving employees’ sales performance requires coaching them in person, riding along on sales calls, observing behaviors and providing feedback.
Technology won’t replace one-on-one interactions with employees, but face-to-face, small group or individual learning can be nearly replicated virtually. If you have the right tools and you remain flexible, you can still be connected and coach employees in a virtual setting. Many employees, especially the tech-savvy millennial workforce, appreciate and anticipate the opportunity to use new technologies. They value a well-designed experience that is interactive, accessible and easy to use on mobile devices.
- Choose the right medium
- Video meetings have the advantage of letting you see and hear one another so you can better gauge tone, intention, and body language. Most video hosting platforms let you share your screen to aid in delivering content and instruction. And you usually have the option of recording everything that happens for later viewing.
- While phone calls lose the visual element, they make it easier to truly listen and hear what is being said. It is also the quickest way to connect with your employees. Use the phone for low stakes conversations rather than in-depth or serious conversations.
- Email is best for posing questions and allowing your employee to think on their answers, but it is not great when you need immediate feedback.
- Make smart use of technology
While employees may not get to hear or observe what a successful discovery call or a closed deal sounds like during shadowing in the field, audio and video helps them understand and learn what “good” looks like in your company’s world any time, any place.
- Use video to demonstrate introductory sales development calls and engagement sales presentations
- Likewise, use audio recordings of sales phone calls to demonstrate the strategies you do and don’t want employees to adopt.
- Build a collection of best call recordings and a video library with how-to’s and best practices including:
- Deliver valuable and timely feedback to employees no matter where they are located by allowing them to record videos of them practicing, for example, a sales pitch, that can be automatically delivered to you for review, feedback and coaching.
- Leverage sales enablement platforms, software, portals
- Provide a repository of content and make training material available all the time. Allow employees access to the learning resources they need on demand, when and where they need it.
- Introduce the full sales cycle so employees have the full context while working on mastering smaller chunks of it.
- Implement gamification with checklists and quizzes.
- Use short, spaced bursts of virtual coaching
- Combine training tutorials and simulations paired with live discussions with you.
- Ask the right questions such as:
- Which customers are you going to call on next week?
- Why are you calling on them?
- Why are these opportunities your top priority?
- Which opportunities are you neglecting in order to attend to these calls?
- With whom are you meeting?
- Why would they want to meet you?
The bottom line is that of course, there is great value to your being in the field watching employees interacting with customers. But ride-alongs don’t have to be the only venue for sales coaching. Frequent, scheduled, shorter conversations combined with the right technology and tools are a powerful approach to sales coaching that drives immediate results.
Do you need help designing development plans for employees? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.