My Salespeople Are Slacking Off Working from Home! Myths of the Remote Workplace – Part 3

For those micromanagers out there, fear not! You can still micromanage your team remotely. I’m joking of course, but the fact is, the next two powerful remote workplace myths focus on observation and how you can observe your team effectively and proactively to uncover previously unrecognizable coaching and developmental opportunities that will boost personal productivity and sales. Here’s the next step to becoming an exemplary coach by observing your team perform remotely, as if you’re right next to them.

Here’s part one in this four-part series

Here’s Part Two


MYTH #5 – I Can’t Observe My Team Work and Don’t Know What They’re Doing

Remote Observation Is Powerful and Efficient

Another myth to shatter is around remote observation. Even before this pandemic, most managers would agree that they can be doing much more international observation of their employees, something that’s desperately lacking in most companies. To compound this, most managers feel they are unable to ‘observe’ their team in the field if they are not physically present with them. Instead, they blindly push their people to perform and overload them with videoconference meetings until you’ve developed a team of ZOOMBIES.

However, there are many managers who feel remote observation works better and is more effective for a variety of reasons. After all, when listening in on a conversation, or a sales call, the primary focus needs to be on listening for the message, tone, pace, and the delivery style of the person you’re observing.

In addition, when observing remotely, you don’t have any other visual distractions that can take away from pro-active, intentional listening. (Unless you’re making the costly mistake of multi-tasking while observing.)

Sell Virtually – Coach Virtually

Since email, videoconferencing and social media are the main communication vehicles for your salespeople; whether they’re presenting, following up, running an internal meeting, handling a customer issue or prospecting, it only makes sense to observe, listen to their communication style and delivery, and coach them using the same communication platform.

Even though you’re not physically present, you can observe behaviors that go beyond what you’re hearing.

For example, whether you’ve scheduled a time for a coaching session, team meeting, videoconference, or a time to observe them over the telephone,

  • Are they prepared for their meeting?
  • Are they efficient and organized?
  • Do they have their notes, call list, objectives, and expectations clearly mapped out?
  • Are they focused or distracted?
  • Are they engaged and contributing?
  • Are they focused on understanding the customer’s needs to deliver immediate value, or are they focused on themselves?

Here are a few more things you can observe.

  • Are you being mindful of their tone, pacing, resonance, and the confidence they exude?
  • Are they patient?
  • Do they lead with questions or are they reactive, jumping in too soon on the defensive or to solve a problem?

Moreover, you actually do have the opportunity to observe your team ‘in the field.’ Granted, your direct report may not be physically next to you when they’re delivering a presentation or having a conversation but you can schedule a conference call or videoconference with your employees to watch and/or listen in while that person is in a meeting, making follow up calls to prospects or customers or when they’re cold calling on the phone, if cold calling is part of that person’s responsibility.

Effective feedback always begins with self-reflection! To ensure you have the tools to debrief after you observe someone, here are the coaching questions to use so they can self-reflect and uncover their own coaching opportunities.

  1. How do you think that (call/meeting) went?
  2. What did you feel went well?
  3. What, if anything, did you find difficult or challenging?
  4. What, if anything, could you have done differently?
  5. What, if anything, can you improve or change in order to achieve better results the next time?
  6. Can I share some things I noticed that will help you achieve your goals and (better your best)?

The Big Coaching Miss that Creates Breakthroughs

What else can you observe? Here’s a consistently missed coaching opportunity. That is, reviewing and coaching people’s written communications, emails, proposals, and the messages/marketing materials they’re sending in written form.

By knowing what to look and listen for during a remote conversation, you will uncover many valuable coaching opportunities, without having to be physically present with your team.

Expand your virtual peripheral vision so you’re more mindful and intentional around the opportunities you now have to observe, coach, and deliver feedback that causes a positive behavioral change.

Coach The Language of Selling, Their Communication, and Personal Brand

Just like coaching is the language of leadership, selling is a language. Top performers communicate more powerfully than lower performers.

They listen at a deeper level and certainly ask the ‘tougher,’ more precision-based questions that get to the core of the prospect’s known and unknown needs, core concerns, buying process, and priorities.

Rather than assume what your team is saying, and how they’re communicating to your customers and coworkers, you now have the opportunity to proactively listen and observe what they are doing, what they are saying and how they come across, so you can coach them to become exceptional communicators, while helping them build a stronger (virtual) personal brand.


MYTH #6 – I Don’t Speak Their Language So I Can’t Observe Them

Building off Myth #5, do you manage a geographically dispersed team across the world who may not always speak the language that you can understand and speak yourself? As such, there’s always the consideration of language barriers, more prominent with global organizations.

If you don’t speak the same language of your team and want to listen in when they’re on a call, during a meeting or video-presenting, the solution is simple.

First, you can always observe, pace, tone, who’s speaking the most, are they asking questions, and how the salesperson is managing the call around timelines.

Ask one of your peers or someone on your team who speaks that language to listen in on or visually observe the call with your direct report. The first step is getting permission from your salesperson so they see what the benefit is for them. At the end of the call, the other person observing can share with you what they have heard and observed, what was done well and opportunities for improvement.

If it’s more convenient due to scheduling conflicts and availability, in some cases, you can record the call and share that recording with a peer who could listen to the conversation around their schedule and then provide feedback to you.

In addition, with all the advances in technology, there are many platforms available today that not only allow you to record a call, but also transcribe it into a different language. Another option that refutes the assumption that you can’t observe your team remotely.

Now that we’ve covered myths one through six, to conclude this series, we’ll finish up by refuting these last final myths of the remote workplace.

MYTH #7 – You Can’t Set Boundaries and Create Life Balance

MYTH #8 – My Team Won’t Embrace This Change