When your team operations in all different locations, it can create various challenges in management than working in an office together.
However, field teams continue to be the dominant sales strategy. Despite the growth of inside sales, field sales make up 71.2% of the total sales force. And according to the same article, field sales aren't going anywhere. Experts predict that field sales will partner with inside sales to create a holistic sales strategy.
Field sales also have the added perk of more engaged workers who are willing to work longer hours than their in-house counterparts. Happy to be out of the office and engaging face-to-face with clients, you can have an enthusiastic team with the right management.
The most effective management practices, though, are multi-faceted and require a different approach from in-office. Between hiring, communication, sales performance strategy, motivation, and culture, field management requires various skills.
That’s why we created this checklist! Keep reading to make sure that you have the best management practices in place for your field sales team.
Pick the Right Team Members
The right field team starts with the right team members. Not everyone fits into the remote-team model: the lack of physical leadership and team members doesn't work for some people. Some employees get bored, and others slack without office mates.
However, for the right employees, remote jobs give them the freedom that they need to accomplish their best work. They can be more productive without being weighed down with too much office chit-chat and are excited by the prospect of working alone, not intimidated.
The key for management is to find the type of worker that succeeds with the independence of fieldwork. You need an employee with the flexibility to adapt to new strategies while communicating any difficulties and insights from the field.
Some characteristics that a new hire should have must include:
· Strong communication skills. This means not only being able to communicate over the phone and in-person but through writing as well. You don't want endless back-and-forth emails and text messages because of poor writing skills. Consider conversing with prospective hires through writing first (say, email) to get a feel for their writing skills.
· Flexibility. In an in-office setting, it often possible to walk employees through new technology slowly and get them accustomed to it. However, in the field, it's often necessary to introduce new technology and have it adopted right away. Employees need to be willing to embrace whatever new challenges you throw their way.
· Self-discipline. With the lack of direct oversight, it is up to your employees to get the job done. They need to be able to deliver on quota through their own motivation.
· Drive. Likewise, a rep that is driven to succeed will go the extra mile without the need for direct oversight. The right sales reps will push to meet their goals and quotas without needing constant motivation.
The better the hire, the less work required from leadership to develop good sales reps in the long run. Your employee requires more trust than an in-office worker, so the hiring process needs to be even more intentional. Look for the characteristics that make your employees reliable and enjoy their work.
Focus on Deliverables
On average, field reps work longer hours than their in-office counterparts. However, that doesn’t always necessarily mean they’re getting more done.
It’s easy to get distracted out in the field. There’s no one to look over your worker’s shoulder to make sure they’re meeting with clients instead of taking an extra-long lunch. They can also get stuck driving an inefficient route to see clients or taking too long in conversations. These can all add up to more time, but it doesn’t translate to more profit for your company.
To make sure that your employees are getting the most out of their time, focus on deliverables. Sometimes called Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, these will tell you more about your reps’ quality of work than how many hours they work.
Focusing on deliverables also gives your employees the flexibility they need to do work in a way that works best for them. You won't need to be looking over their shoulders as much if you make clear KPIs and check in with them regularly.
Some effective sales KPIs for field team members include:
· Client Acquisition Rates. How many leads are they converting into customers? It doesn't matter how long they are working if it doesn't translate into new customers. Although there will naturally be some reps that will perform better than others, if there is a large discrepancy, though, it might be time to look into it.
· Engagement with Current Customers. Your most effective prospective customers are the customers that you currently have. Your sales reps’ ability to continue their relationships with customers will help both maintain them as customers, earn them valuable referrals, and potentially upsell and cross-sell to them.
· Average Deal Size. Not all deals are created equal. If your sales reps are spending time and energy on smaller deals, they are wasting valuable time. Get a gauge for how effectively they are spending their time with average deal size.
· Event Rates. Keep track of how many phone calls, client appointments, and demos your reps are giving. They can’t reach their quotas or sell if they’re not putting in the work to reach clients.
· Follow-up Rates. Statistics show that most sales reps give up far too quickly. It takes an average of eight attempts to reach a prospect, but 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up call. Make sure that your sales team is putting in the work to follow-up by tracking their average rates.
A CRM can help you follow these important metrics to make sure that your sales reps are putting in the energy and efficiency needed. They can input events, such as phone calls, demos, and follow-ups. Some CRMs can even automatically log events, such as when a sales rep walks into a customer's office.
Help Your Reps Out in the Field
The average software was not built for the field. They often are chained to a desktop and give limited capabilities through mobile apps and tablets.
However, your sales team can work much more efficiently with the right tools that help them thrive. New tech makes it easier than ever for your team to bring capabilities out to the field and feel supported. In fact, 61% of workers state that new technology has helped them perform better than ever.
Some software that could help your field reps out include:
Once your sales reps have made the deal, make the rest of the process as smooth as possible. Delivering documents, getting signatures, and getting documents back can be a significant drain on time for your sales team. New tech makes this process easier, though. DocuSign allows your customers to sign all documents virtually, eliminating the need for the back-and-forth.
Expensing can be another drain on your sales team's time. Instead of hanging on to receipts, they can take a picture, and expensing apps, such as Expensify, can handle the rest. It will also make your job as a manager easier since it can process bulk reports and reimburse in several ways.
In big cities, parking can be a major hassle for field reps. They can spend time looking for a parking spot instead of with their clients. Apps like SpotHero allows them to reserve parking spots ahead of time instead. Sales reps won’t run the risk of being late for meetings because of parking.
Time in the car is time not spent selling. Mapping the most efficient route between all of their clients means that sales reps can spend less time driving and more time face-to-face with their customers. Map My Customers work seamlessly with your CRM to make sure that you’re sales team isn’t wasting more windshield time than necessary.
On the road, it’s not possible to pop over to your office of a coworker’s cubicle to get a quick answer to their questions. Communication needs to be more intentional, but new tech makes it possible. Apps such as Slack allow your teams to communicate effectively with you and each other. Dropbox makes it easy to share valuable information and documents from wherever.
With the right software, your team can become more efficient to close more sales and make your job managing them easier.
Cultivate a Team Spirit
Company culture can make or break a business. With a negative work culture, productivity, customer service, and morale, take a nosedive. However, a positive work culture translates to innovation, positivity, and enthusiasm from your employees.
Just because your sales team is not often in the office doesn't mean that work culture doesn't affect their performance. In fact, it is more likely to create a disconnect between your sales team and leadership. A positive company culture for field sales takes intention.
Gamification is a great way to foster friendly competition and encouragement. Fun games can help keep workers engaged and excited about their profession. Hoopla, for example, has a mobile app that allows your sales team to celebrate wins together, make announcements, and compete with each other based on your preferred KPIs. It provides a great way to motivate your sales team.
Virtual meetings are essential for remote workers. If your team spends very little time in the office, virtual meetings allow them to collaborate, discuss their experiences and get to know their team. Zoom is an excellent option for allowing virtual meetings from anywhere.
Enable Real-Time Visibility
Micromanaging is a weak leadership style. For field teams, though, it's impossible. It means that managers spend their day putting out fires and that sales reps are paralyzed from making any decisions.
Instead, empower your employees to make decisions and take responsibility for their sales. Management can then give and receive feedback to make sure that everything runs successfully.
A way to avoid micromanaging your sales team is by enabling real-time visibility. Leadership can understand what is going on in the field and can speak to their sales team without constantly contacting sales reps to get updates.
Create the Right Field Sales Team
Field team management can be a challenging job. If done correctly, though, it can lead to a motivated, enthusiastic, and efficient sales team. By following our checklist, you can build the right team, give them the tools they need, create the right culture, and give them the leadership they need!