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4 keys to making virtual sales meetings productive

Are you a sales manager who gives too little attention to training and coaching salespeople? Many do this, and it’s understandable. You want sales representatives to spend as much time as possible with customers. You also have to control the escalating costs of bringing salespeople together for meetings.

What to do? Make the training and coaching available to them right where they are located. Many of your salespeople have a tablet or smartphone. Let them use their personal devices to access digital resources before, during and after a training and coaching session.

Here are four keys to making your virtual sales meetings productive:

Set a meeting schedule

You’ll immediately signal that training and coaching are important while showing respect for everyone’s time. You’ll continually reinforce the training, a must for effective sales management. With frequent coaching, you’ll know about any new problems that might have cropped up, as well as see the development of new skills. Be sure the schedule is convenient for sales representatives in every time zone.

A weekly schedule is worth consideration. You might be thinking this will take much time away from selling, but it doesn’t need to.

You must keep the meeting short

It’s harder to keep people’s attention during a distance meeting than it is in a training room under your watchful eyes. Remember that the longer the time period, the more you risk having the reps get distracted with their e-mail or what’s happening around them — and lose track of what they’re being taught. You can accomplish a great deal in a session as short as 30 minutes if you plan it right.

You should cover something new each time, and give an action item to the participants. Consider asking everyone to send you an e-mail during the upcoming week with a brief description of how they applied the skills that were discussed or coached during the meeting. Begin the next meeting by asking one or two of the reps to report on how they applied the skills that were taught during the previous session.

Keep the meeting engaging and lively

Use visuals — video, if you can. How about comics? Create polls for larger groups, and have live Q-and-A sessions for smaller groups. Use breakout rooms so the reps work with and gain insight from one another, while you move in and out of the various groups. Keep it upbeat and energetic. Use humor when appropriate. Stand or sit up while you present. Your voice tone and inflection are even more critical when conducting a distance meeting.

Take advantage of the technologies

Online communication gets more sophisticated every day. You can provide reps with digital assets in an online portal. They can access these tools anytime, anywhere. We often have to introduce concepts that might not be applicable to the current circumstance, but with digital tools that are accessible on smartphones and tablets, reps can review those topics exactly when they need them.

Enhance salespeople’s meeting experience with the aid of chat, polls, games, webcam and Instagram photos. That means that you, as the meeting leader, have to learn and practice the use of these tools.

Encourage the salespeople to use social media to share information and collaborate on solving problems. Provide them with hyperlinks that expand on the information covered in the last session. Encourage them to e-mail you with questions. Test the technology before every session and ask the reps to test their connectivity in advance. Provide an alternate way to connect in case of a problem. Consider having another person available before and during the meeting to help with technical issues so that you are 100% available to deliver the content and facilitate the meeting.

Want better performance from your sales staff? Provide them with training and coaching – right from the comfort of their office.

Bill Rosenthal is CEO of Communispond, which provides virtual and traditional classroom training for improved communications and sales, and Logical Operations, which offers 4,600 titles in its training curriculum library, designed for learning in and beyond the classroom.