EP 3 – How to manage a remote sales team – Kevin Hopp

Presentation of the episode

On the third episode of The Virtual Selling Podcast, Kevin Hopp, CEO of Hopp Consulting Group, tells us all about managing remote sales teams. He explains his whole process, from how he train his teams to the advantages of remote work for sales teams.

About Kevin Hopp


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[00:00:00] With the pandemic that came upon us, the rise of video conferencing tools like Microsoft teams and zoom has led to more aspects of the sales conversation to occur virtually. And what began as a crisis reaction has evolved into the new normal, but how normally is the new normal. We’re talking about how the strong shift from in-person to virtual selling has transformed B2B sales experience, virtual sales enablement, new organizations, KPIs. Everything is evolving. In the virtual selling podcast, we address these issues in depth, twice a week, with the experts and leaders of these transformations, heads of sales, sales ops, and sales enablement of the most innovative companies in the field. This podcast is sponsored by sales, the new SAS platform to make your customer meetings more engaging and better prepared. Find out how you can shorten sales cycles, convert more leads and increase customer engagement. Virtual selling is here to stay. And so is sales

I’m Gabriel Dabi Schwebel founder of Sales and the host of this show. I’m excited to welcome today’s guest Kevin Hopp, CEO of Hopp consulting group, and host of the sales career podcast. Hi, Kevin.

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Gabriel. Thanks for having me. I really do appreciate you inviting me on here. This is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. As I’ve been managing and developing talent and working with sales teams a hundred percent remote for about four years here, but the pandemic was definitely a bit of a curve ball and things have changed.

That’s great. So that’s a very interesting subject and I would like to understand how you have done that, how you have trained your teams, how you have hired them ? And I’m sure that you have a lot of tricks to share.

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, one of the first experiences I had of complete remote team building was basically in the heat of the pandemic, like talking about like, you know, April, may of 2020, right around that time, I was a solo consultant working for myself, and I was doing a lot of cold calling for my clients. I was approached by a potential business partner and he said, Hey look, I want to build an agency. I want to build a team, an internal team that will do cold calling for other people. And I had actually already been a part of a business like that back in 2018, few years ago. And I knew kind of the format. And I said, Hey, let’s do it. Let’s build this business. And what ended up happening is we went from just me, this guy, and one other partner who was helping us to operate to a company of about 20, 22, 23 people. But when I walked away from it. So it, I ran basically all of the day-to-day operations on that.
So that required me to go out and find, hire, train, and develop 15 different sales reps. Right. Because we had to have an army of sales reps, ready to call for our clients at any given moment. So I did a lot of this completely remote and it was a pretty cool experience. I have to say like one of the things that is so like positive about remote selling is that talent can be from anywhere now.

Yeah. And I’m in Paris. You are in the US, you can do anything today with virtual selling.

That’s right. That’s right. And we had a team that was scattered across the United States at the time. So I had sellers on the east coast that we put on the east coast accounts, sellers in the central that would work central and then west coast. So, you know, one of the things I don’t miss about working with that organization is I would get up at 6:00 AM to be ready for when the east coast people are working and the central people are working. So my wife didn’t see a lot of me in the mornings. I was a very early bird back then.

Yeah. That’s the main pain about working globally. For me, it’s kind of a pain now.

It’s gotta be late at night where you are, right?


Yeah. There you go. So it can be a bit of a grind, but you know, so let me share with, you know, your audience, like, like two of the main keys that I have found when it comes to ramping and training remote, because a lot of organizations before the pandemic organizations of size, a bigger organizations, when you did training, even if you are a remote employee, they’d bring you in. Right? Like when I got hired at Vonage communications, a big billion dollar communication company, they flew me from San Diego to New Jersey across the whole United States for a week. And I was there and headquarters training in person and going in classrooms and working with different trainers. So organizations have had this setup of, even if you are a remote worker, we’ll just come and have this in person. Shoot pandemic can’t do that, right? So what’s really nice is, you know, I became even more than I was before a super user of G suite tools. It sounds silly. But G suite tools are incredible. Like Google docs, Google drive, the idea that you have everything there. And it doesn’t matter if he’s in Google or if you’re using Microsoft and using SharePoint and the same thing. The idea that we can all have a central place. That’s like having a desk in the office where all the resources are, makes things really easy. So I think that’s sort of, one of the keys is to make sure that everything you’re building all the documents that you’re building, the support, onboarding and support rep development and training databases of the old calls, all of that needs to be in a shared location.
It sounds simple, but some organizations will kind of silo that data off and it, you know, this rep has it over here and that reposit over there and you have to ask Tony for it every time. Make it publicly available, make it easily shareable. Right. That’s super easy. That’s super cheap too, by the way.
And then the next tool is not that surprising, but Slack’s amazing. I use slack a lot when I was in the office, too. Right. So slack came out like want to say 20 14, 15 is when slack became a company. And that’s right when I was starting my career and I used it in the office a ton.
But jeez, when you’re not in the office, slack becomes the office. Slack is the water-cooler right. You can walk down the office and pop into a cubicle, or you can just send someone a slack to them. And because everybody’s remote, they’re all right there. Right. And you can find people super easy. If your organization isn’t using Slack. What are you doing? Like that’s my question. The people out there, if you’re not using slack, you have to be using some kind of multimedia communication tool that’s instant. Okay. And I’m sure there’s some competitors to slack out there, but the multimedia part component of slack is absolutely critical. It’s not just chat.
It’s not just messages flying back and forth. Now slack has video too. So you can instantly start video meetings. You can instantly start audio meetings. This is a feature they rolled out recently called huddles. I love it. I love it. You can just go and click a little toggle switch and boom.
You’re talking to someone on the other end. If they toggle switch to, right? So it’s replacing and enhancing the relationship that people have completely virtually in a way that I’ve just never seen before. And especially if you’re coaching and developing talent, the asynchronous video communication is one of the best ways you could ever do that.
Now, asynchronous is key because the hardest about like zooms, everyone got zoomed to death in the pandemic, right? Everyone was on zoom all day and night, because that was the only way that people knew how to communicate was well, let’s get on Skype. Let’s get on zoom. Let’s get on teams. And if I see you here, then we can talk.
But then people, people get burned out on that. Slack now easily allows you to do asynchronous video communication, which is you post a recording of a call or you put it into a channel. Hey Kevin, what could I have done here differently? Here’s the situation. I can just click the little video icon, take it up to a three minute long video and send it natively inside of slack.
Just two clicks. It’s awesome. It’s amazing. And then that video is in the thread and you can save it if you need to, as a coaching resource for later.

So you were working and doing your training much more asyncroningling than in-person training.

Oh yeah. A hundred percent. A hundred percent. And what’s cool about that, especially if you’re talking about Sales reps who are doing cold calling and doing a lot of like actual interaction. In person there’s an added layer of embarrassment, right? Like, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of reps in their first two weeks trying to like hide somewhere in the office to practice making calls because they feel stupid trying to stammer out the pitch and they’re not good at it yet. And they know everyone around them, ambient noise in the office can hear them. So this is added level of embarrassment. Virtual selling there is none of that, which is great. You’re at home. It’s just you and your dog. You know what I mean? It might be you and your significant other, your wife, your girlfriend, or boyfriend or whatever.
They might be hearing you while you’re there, but it’s no longer, you know, you have to call in front of everybody all the time. And I found that to be a massive plus a massive positive to how fast I can develop talent because people can just get these quick and dirty reps, like cold calls out of the way early with none of that embarrassment.

Okay, so that’s important.

Yeah, it’s been an interesting added, like people like the rest that I’ve coached have been much more willing to take the methodology that I give them, which is kind of what I do. I teach cold calling methodology process structure to take that and then you use it quickly, like I’m talking about like getting a BDR on the phones by the end of week one.
Okay. Week one in a brand new job on the phones by week two, set a meeting or two, and then start working followups. And then, you know, by the end of week three or four, all the reps, literally all their reps I’ve ever coached are producing reliably two to three to four meetings a week, and some of them really take it and run with it, which is nice.
And then the other thing that really helps if your organization is fortunate enough to have inbound, if you have some MQL, marketing qualified leads that they can call on they’ll crush that, but that confidence factor is just probably three or four times higher because the sales rep is practicing alone in their bedroom.

And they practice and they give you feedback of what they have said and share with you the video of the calls and the audio of their call. You give them feedbacks and their practice again and so on. That’s it?

That has been absolutely key. And the asynchronous part allows me to do more with my day. More time to be strategic, to accomplish other things. And then when I need to, when it’s the time for coaching and development, we can hop on a zoom, but we don’t always do that. I could just make a video highlighting what they need to know, highlighting a good coaching moment. And you can either share that one-on-one or I’m actually a big fan of building a culture of coaching in the group, right? So have a group thread with all the BDRs, all the sales reps in it. And if there’s a good coaching moment that other people can learn from, you can post that video in the group thread, which is good. It allows for all the benefits of a group without any of the scariness of practicing on your own in front of everybody. You know what I mean?

That’s great. And how does the group share things together also?

Yeah. I mean, absolutely. It’s a must to have like a water cooler culture in slack, meaning, you know, people are sending gifts back and forth to get excited. You announce every time you get a meeting, every time one of my reps gets a meeting and now I have a few clients right now that I’m in their slacks. Right. And I, part of developing a healthy sales culture in a completely remote environment is making sure you’re still celebrating what’s going on, right? So, Hey, I just had a great followup call. I’m really excited about this. It’s going to happen next week.
Good job, buddy. Hey, just set a meeting and then you can react to that on slack, a little emojis and stuff. Little things like that actually do build comradery and camaraderie builds. Camaraderie, builds culture and culture drives activity. Because activity at the end of the day, a lot, like a lot…I’ve worked in activities driven by management. What do managers do? They make sure you hit your numbers every single day and managers need to manage to the number, you know, and what I’ve found is actually super effective is cultural leadership will drive everything else.
If you have a healthy culture that is all about everyone moving in the same direction, meaning we all want each other to win because the tide rises all boats. And leaders leading from the front as well. So what that looks like is me making videos, like giving feedback and being vocal in there. And then we also do live calling sessions on zoom where I will coach. Right?

Could you explain these, those life calling sessions?

Yeah. So the live calling sessions are like a critical part of getting ramped up with the methodology that I teach. So little shameless plug here. So hop consulting group, I’m launching an outbound cold calling course. So I’ve developed an actual methodology and I take that to all my clients.
And what it is is it’s a way about going about a cold call that makes it suck less. And gets you into business level strategic discussions with cold prospects faster. Right? So in order for me to make sure that the rep is doing well with the methodology, I have to hear it in real time. And the fastest way to get someone to learn and develop is to do it instantaneously, right?
The asynchronous video coaching is always going to be valuable, but especially in the beginning, we got to do some of this live coaching, you start with role-playing you start with one-on-one with the known objections and stuff like that. And once, once they feel that is there, then we move to an environment where they’re having live conversations with prospects.

And we have to, you gotta kinda, you gotta get a rep out of the mindset of, oh shoot, they told me they’re not interested. I’m done for the day. Right. Sales reps getting over that initial hump and building that kind of, you know, call it muscle, call it scar tissue of alright it’s okay. I know a lot of people won’t be interested, but I’m confident that the next person I talked to that is interested, I’m going to have a great call and I’m going to set a great meeting. And then you build that excitement of, Hey guys, we’re working for that. We’re working for that excitement and that meeting set. And we know the not interested, the hang ups and the take me off your list. That’s going to happen, but the other side of the coin of what I help organizations teach in and build is technology build the tech stack that allows conversations to flow. You gotta have a lot of conversations

Just to understand your life session. You are live with the customer and you are in the same zooms as the customer and your rep, or you have a group?

So, so a lot of what I do, that’s actually really valuable. It’s the whole team. So, so let’s call it five BDRs, all on zoom at the same time and one BDR we’ll click go on the autodialer and he share their screen. So it’s like we’re watching them go about their calls. So the audio is going. All right. Now they’re talking to this prospect after they hang up, I always ask them, I say, Hey, how do you think that went? And they’ll say, well, my intro is tough and this and that and blah, blah, blah. And then I always lead with the compliment sandwich, compliment sandwiches, the best way to get feedback. Hey, you did it all right. I really liked the way you did this. We can improve on this. But remember that your closing was actually pretty strong too. Compliment sandwiches, the best way to get feedback, particularly to sales reps that are learning something that’s like really awkward and difficult, building them up will get them way further than tearing them down and saying, oh, that was awful. You did this wrong. I’m not, I’m not blah blah. Right. Like cultural leadership around wins is way better than managing Everetts. Right. I don’t want to be known as a manager.

Great. So you talked about asynchronous training, you talk about a live session. What are the tools you use to train people remotely?

So it’s mostly slack and zoom and Google jots. Like you gave me those three things. I can train any BDR team in the sas world to be absolute killers on the phone. It’s that easy.

All the moments of trainings, group sessions or weekly meetings, you don’t use them anymore. No management, no reportings.

Well, good question. So, in my consulting, like I will set up a weekly meeting with the actual leadership, right. So I become a fractional coach mentor, you know, fractional leader. With these BDR teams. So I will meet with them and do live calling once a week then in between we do the asynchronous video coaching, right? Cause I can do that whenever I can make the video about critiquing their call whenever they ask for feedback. It’s not a right now thing. It’s asynchronous. And then, we’ll do a group training probably every other week, a training on a specific topic. So as we go along and the reps are having lots of the conversations, they realize, Hey, this piece of business acumen is something that we can develop better.
Like I also find that’s the biggest barrier from a BDR team going from, you know, okay, we have a good tech stack, we’re having good conversations, we’re setting some meetings. How do we level up the quality of the meetings? You have to build the business acumen, meaning the rep, even though there are entry-level hire or they have one or two years of experience and they’re a cold collar, they need to start understanding fundamentally how every conversation could turn into an actual deal. Cause cold calling is not just dialing for dollars. We’re trying to have business level strategic conversations with people and they have a script. I’m a huge fan of scripts because it’s a handrails. That’s what it is, it helps them get from point a to point B in a reliable way, but not everything goes according to the script. And after you get through your script and people have these questions that are more in depth about your company’s role in the industry, your company’s role with integrations and how you play with other competitors and things like that. Like that, that’s what I call business acumen, understanding your prospect’s role in their organization and understanding how they’re going to play into the deal.
Are they going to be the decision maker or are they going to be a tester? Are they going to be a recommender? Are they going to be a signer? They going to sign the agreement. If you can identify that in a cold call, that’s how you level up the quality of meetings. You sort to have your SDRs are going to be better business people and better business people become better sales, like sales reps, like account executives, closers, right?

Oh. Do you train them to that? To have these business acumen?

So, right now with two of my clients, I’m going through this and it’s basically a bi-weekly training and the focus shifts based on what we’re hearing in the calls and what the principal area of focus needs to be based on what’s, you know, what’s going on really in the calls.
So that’s what I’ve been doing when it comes to like business acumen development. It’s important that I share one really key, really key thing for training a team remotely. And a lot of people that are listening to this might go, ah, this really, and now here it is. You have to have your camera on during zoom calls.

That’s for sure.

Camera on because when you don’t have your camera on, you can have, you find the people are way less engaged, way less engaged,

You as the seller, but also the buyer, how do you make your buyer to turn on the camera?

So I’m talking about training the team, like leadership and how do you develop a team remote. Leaders, camera. Sales reps, camera on. You got to see the whites of my eyes. We have to see each other to see all the nonverbal communication that’s going on. You got to talk with your hands, right? That’s how enthusiasm gets transferred. It’s a lot less about the audio. So I’m a big fan of like telling sales reps, Hey, during trainings, like, I don’t want you to go into the store and pop in this in your air pods and just, you know, talking, I need to see you. Right. When we’re doing training, it’s a team environment, camera on. Now, when it comes to sales meetings, I generally lead with camera on and I let the prospect pushback.
Right? So default camera on. I say, Hey, how are we doing? And if their camera is off, they might mention, Hey, I’m going to go camera off today, in which case I say, okay, cool. I’ll turn my camera off too. Right. But the default needs to be camera on so that we can get all of that other piece of communication, which is visual, you know.

That’s great. Really. It was very, very interesting, Kevin. And I really think that a remote training is here to stay and we will have more and more remote selling teams. And I’m going to make a small promotion also for Sales Deck, and I will do a bigger later, but I’m sure that this solution Sales Deck I’m developing would help you with this kind of remote training, remote management of your team. And I understand that you don’t like management, but remote cultural…


Leadership of your teams.

Thanks a lot Kevin. This episode of the virtual setting podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. We’ll meet twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenge of giants in the field. If you enjoy today’s episode, we are always listening to your feedbacks, shares a show and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episodes. This episode was brought to you by Sales, the virtual selling platform that increase your sales team CBR on sales readiness enable remote management and then sale operation excellement. Book your Sales demo today. Thanks a lot, Kevin. It was a pleasure to meet you and to have this discussion with you.

Well, thanks for having me, Gabriel. I really do appreciate it.


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