How to Better Manage Your Field Sales Team

By Vladik Rikhter

map-visualization

In my experience, the best salespeople are the ones who don’t view closing as part of their job – it’s part of the fun. The excitement of making a sale is what drove them to enter this line of work in the first place.

I found this to be true especially among field sales representatives. Being on the road is a tough gig. The hours start to add up when you factor in the extra preparation and paperwork field sales teams must complete.

Paperwork is a necessary evil. Without forms and reports, there’s no way to track progress, and you can’t improve what you don’t track. Thankfully, there’s a better — and smarter — way to work in the age of mobile technology. Digital forms stored on a secure cloud make collaboration easy and more efficient.

“Having the right information is critical to closing deals, and an organization that isn’t using the latest tools available could risk losing out to its competition,” writes Sharmin Kent of TinderBox, a sales productivity software company. “Every effective sales team has the same goals: spending time with customers, building relationships, maintaining a consistent process, staying agile and closing deals. With the best 21st century tools — some new, some unexpected — sales teams can set themselves up for even more success.”

Help Your Team Bridge the Gap in Sales Reports

In the 21st century, we now have the point-of-sale technology to tell us the basics about sales performance. Here are three questions your standard sales report can answer without a field rep visiting a store:  

  1. How many customers purchased your product last month?
  2. How many product facings does your company have per store?
  3. What promotions were most successful?

Here are three questions your standard sales report can’t answer:

  1. How many upsell opportunities were attempted and what were the outcomes?
  2. Were point-of-sale promotions and other marketing tools executed properly?
  3. Why are sales consistently underperforming at a certain location?

The only way you can gain these insights is by deploying your field sales representatives and capturing real-time data, including photos of your product displays. Errors are bound to happen across a network. For instance, maybe promotional sales were underperforming at that location because the products were not placed in the store according to the planogram.

Communication & Understanding

Tinderbox echoes what we often say; it’s important to communicate with your team constantly.

“Constant interaction between the management and the sales team is critical for sales success,” the staff writes. “What are the problems they are facing? Where do they need help? Is there something more you need from them? Does the team need to shift their attention to something else? The lines of communication should always be open.”

When evaluating your team members’ progress, don’t just track how close they were to making the sale, TinderBox advises. It’s sage advice. Focusing too much on failures can be bad for morale and distract you from your next big opportunity.

Keep your historical data in mind and look at the bigger picture. With time and diligence, you’ll get to the point of having a “model store,” a location where product sales are optimized. Compare your data against your model store’s sales. Call on your most successful sales team members to share their own insights and recommendations.

Encourage your field sales team to embrace 21st century connectivity. Happy selling!

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