Whether we’re talking sports, education, or life in general, most of us can recall someone who has inspired us and coached us to do our best. The same is true in sales, where managers are the ones who devise a winning strategy, motivate everyone to work their hardest and continually improve, and make real-time adjustments to enable the best possible outcome.

Now is as good a time as any for the sales-sports analogy. At a time when in-field sales teams are forced to work from home, they need their coaches more than ever. This sell-from-home shift inspired us to develop a playbook of six plays that help sales leaders position their remote sales force for success. Here we introduce the first two plays: Stay Close to Your Reps—Even When They Are Far Away, and Identify Your A Players.

Play 1: Stay Close to Your Reps—Even When They Are Far Away

When major changes are afoot, your team needs your leadership like never before. And when that change means you’re no longer face to face with your reps in the office, it’s vital you find new ways to stay close. 

Pat Summitt – a legendary coach whose teams consistently achieved great things under pressure – provides ample inspiration. Upon her retirement as the head coach of the Lady Vols for 38 years, she had accrued 1,098 career wins, the most in college basketball history. Her coaching genius revealed itself in numerous ways, including knowing each player’s strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing that each one develops at different speeds. No matter where players were on the court, Summitt could track each one. She could also recall an entire season’s worth of plays and pinpoint evolving patterns.

In much the same way, you now need to develop a heightened sense of court awareness and what your reps are doing to help you deliver a win. Only by leaning in and deepening your understanding of how each one is performing can you deliver the coaching that will help your team pivot as needed and stay on track to succeed. 

Play 2: Identify Your A Players

Even top sales talent might struggle to produce when the rules of the game changes overnight. Yet even as sales leaders have less visibility into the day to day of their team, they need to know who qualifies as their top performers. Now is the time to reconsider what equates to stellar performance.

For inspiration, let’s turn to Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. At a time when he needed to retrench, he turned to data as a way to identify players with game-winning potential. Mining and analyzing data, he and his statistician surfaced overlooked statistics for predicting how well a player would perform. Beane’s game-changing strategy paid off and he was efficiently and cost-effectively able to produce division-winning teams in Oakland.

Similarly, you can call upon data to zero in on what indicates a winning performance in today’s selling environment. With this data in hand, you’ll be positioned to effectively coach your players, determine compensation structures, and develop performance improvement plans.

To dig into the two plays we’ve introduced here and set your remote sales force up for success, check out How to Stay Close to Your Remote Sales Force and Identify A Players.