10 Lessons Learned from Running a Fully Remote QBR

Like many other companies at the moment, Mindtickle has been learning to adapt to a 100% virtual environment. As such, we just wrapped up our Q2 Quarterly Business Review (QBR), and we were able to conduct the entire process and meeting virtually. In a way, it was a living QBR with sales and other team members presenting content based on their own lessons learned. Fortunately, it was a success with engagement being strong throughout! But of course, there are always lessons to be learned for making these better and better over time. As the Head of Sales Readiness, I oversaw the QBR ranging from the format and structure to the sessions and post-event engagement. As part of that experience, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the lessons learned.

  • Make sure you have a theme. Even though I know what the theme was and the objectives, I should have communicated better to the field instead of assuming they would discern the theme by piecing all of the sessions together. Make sure to market the QBR with a lot of excitement ahead of time.
  • Pick a platform to support your plan. Without Mindtickle, it would have been difficult to put a logical framework together for the sales teams to follow. Being able to use a platform designed specifically for making virtual QBR’s successful obviously gave me an advantage. But it is important to remember that, regardless of what platform you use to execute the virtual QBR, ensure that the flow and logic of the structure make sense. I constantly checked and re-checked that the sessions were being organized in the proper order and that the times were aligned with the agenda, and the technology helped keep me accountable to that.
  • Segment your virtual QBR. Breaks are not only encouraged, they are mandatory if you want your QBR to succeed. You can’t expect to have an engaged team for a full day or a couple of half days without building in some breathing room. I built in three breaks throughout the day and that seemed sufficient, but when creating the agenda, assume that your learners are going to need mental and physical breaks throughout.
  • Pre-work is essential. While pre-work is an important part of the virtual QBR, I would incorporate additional activities including having the presenters pre-record some brief messages and shorten the live presenting time. One key learning is resist the urge to schedule 60-minute sessions in a virtual QBR. 30-minute sessions are ideal and even those can test the attention spans of reps. Make the pre-work such that the live presentations take care of themselves and all that are left are questions and possible brief reiteration.
  • Keep people excited and engaged. Not only did I build in knowledge checks throughout the day and during breaks, but we also played online games with questions and topics completely unrelated to the QBR content. It shouldn’t be all work and no play and you should give the team an opportunity for a mental break to have some fun.
  • Assign a moderator to check messages. As the organizer especially in a virtual environment using Zoom, you’ll likely be bombarded with questions, technical issues, clarification, follow-up, etc. during the QBR, which is not only difficult but stressful. Ask someone to help moderate the questions and the chatter that comes through during the day.
  • Do dry runs beforehand. The dry runs we did with the presenters allowed myself, along with sales leadership, to ensure that the message was concise and focused, which helps keep people engaged throughout the day.
  • Create breakouts to accommodate different discussions. Something we didn’t do but will certainly incorporate next time, is to use the breakout room feature in Zoom. Give the teams time to digest and talk about how they can apply what they are learning throughout the day in a safe space without worrying about interrupting the sessions.
  • Keep participants on their toes and engaged. We’ve all done it – turned off our video during a video call. To keep everyone honest, randomly ask participants to turn on their cameras and say something about themselves throughout the day. This ensures they are staying engaged and provides everyone an opportunity to learn something new about their peers.
  • Reinforce knowledge and key learnings through structured post-work. Organize post-QBR work that will make an impact and that will reiterate key themes learned throughout the day. Using Mindtickle, we accomplish this through a series of quizzes and exercises that occur right after the QBR and over several weeks to ensure knowledge reinforcement.

While the feedback was that this was a very successful event, I (and I’m sure my enablement professionals agree) am always looking for ways to improve the experience Every training is as much a learning experience for sales enablement as it is for the sales teams.

I hope these insights are useful and I invite fellow sales readiness and enablement professionals to comment and join the discussion. For more blogs like this and other resources to help keep teams remote and ready, visit our “Remote and Ready” page.

5 Tips for Developing Effective Coaching for Your Virtual Workforce

28%…that’s how much you can improve revenues through effective sales coaching.

Over the past few months, companies have faced significant challenges as their sales teams have transitioned into remote workforces. Managing productive sellers working out of home or remote offices is not a new concept, but how you approach the art and science of coaching must if you’re to develop and maintain productive sales activity that has shifted entirely online.

While onboarding and business reviews are key components of sales enablement, coaching is arguably the most important – and the most difficult – to implement for the following reasons:

  • Ongoing – While onboarding focuses on providing new information to reps, coaching reinforces and builds on this foundation with additional information through continual daily and weekly sessions.
  • Individualized – Whereas business reviews are vital for ensuring alignment on company and financial goals, coaching is tailored to the needs of an individual rep accounting for their strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement.
  • Behavioral – Coaching is behavior-based and focuses on correcting a rep’s unfavorable behaviors and habits while reinforcing effective ones.

This begins with clearly defining the benefits for your organization for developing a coaching culture. Coaching just to say you coach isn’t enough. You need to understand your audience and the benefits of setting up an ongoing meeting between manager and rep. Especially in today’s separated workforce, regular meetings over the phone or video conference are essential for developing rapport and learning from others.

Here are useful tips for developing a successful coaching strategy.

Tip #1: Understand the needs of your organization

  • Develop a plan that outlines the needs of the organization, and more importantly, the needs of your sales team. For example, younger sales reps will benefit more by learning from others, while experienced reps will relate to knowledge and content in more of a self-paced environment.
  • Figure out where you want the program to go and identify what results and goals you have for this program. This begins with understanding the strengths, skills gaps and areas of improvement which will be useful for developing KPI benchmarks. Ultimately, you’ll want to be able to measure, follow-up and share these findings throughout the program.

Tip #2: No person is an island (though it feels like that sometimes)

  • While coaching is a two-way street so is the process for getting buy-in from managers and reps. You’ll need to “educate” both sides on how coaching sessions benefit their professional and financial goals.
  • When developing expectations, seek and (as needed) integrate manager and rep feedback. This provides insight into what programs are working as well as a channel for additional topical ideas.

Tip #3: Professional development roads lead to compensation

  • Money talks, and this can be an effective way to ensure everyone participates and actively engages in the program. For example, withholding commission until all training is completed (or achieving an 80% or higher passing rate), including coaching is not uncommon in some organizations.
  • For coaches, setting evaluation parameters that tie closely to reps’ KPIs (industry/domain knowledge, communication style, and accuracy) ensure reps meet their goals. They can be specific to an initiative, such as “Did the rep determine definitive next steps at the end of the call?”, or more interpretive, such as “Could the rep speak to the client’s use case, industry, and/or market?” Evaluation parameters help guide ongoing skills development as coaches and sales administrators can track progress over time to ensure reps are improving, or if not, develop training to address their needs.

Tip 4: Coach the coaches

  • The practice of effective coaching relies as much on the coaches as it does on the participants. Develop a program that enables your coaches with best practices before beginning a coaching program. Coaches are key allies in facilitating change management by creating a positive experience for reps, while build buy-in for managers.
  • Best practices for coaches include:
    • Communications: Coaches need to have regular cadence for communications with reps that promotes engagement and reinforces the message of the opportunity to improve.
    • Feedback: Comprehensive written feedback can benefit reps significantly and should include constructive assessments, encouraging comments, action items and next steps. Not only will the rep benefit by incorporating this feedback into his/her next conversations, but the coaches can then reference their feedback during the next coaching session to ensure the rep is improving.

Tip 5: Measure what you sow

  • Coaching can be viewed under two primary categories: hard skills and capabilities; and soft skills and performance. Your coaching program should take these categories into consideration and align them to the strategic objectives of your business and to the day-to-day activities of the reps.
  • For reps:
    • Engagement – completed sessions and average score
    • Progression – overall scores and competency
    • Soft Skills – rate of speech, demeanor/rapport, use of filler words, persuasiveness
    • KPI Comparison – improvement over time, impact specific to the skillset
  • For coaches:
    • Total completed sessions and disapproved sessions
    • Adherence to coaching sessions, number of coaching sessions scheduled and completed over a daily, weekly and monthly basis

For more detailed information on these tips as well as how to create your own coaching structure for your remote workforce, download our checklist for effective remote coaching and check out our 6-minute demo.