Let’s face it, managing a field sales team is not easy. Effective communication is challenging and misunderstandings between team members occur daily. And, when problems do arise, which is almost every day, you just cannot walk across the desk to resolve it face-to-face.
However, these are mere trivial problems; the biggest problem is ensuring the productivity and profitability of your field sales reps. How can you raise their motivation level, which is the most crucial ingredient in the success of your sales team? In fact, in a survey conducted in 2017, 49% of the respondents cited improving productivity and performance as their top challenge in managing field sales reps. The same study was conducted again in 2012 and 2015 and the respondents cited the same challenge as the biggest.
Clearly, getting the most out of your field sales team is an overwhelming challenge. Despite the challenges, several companies are delivering stellar results with their field sales teams. So, what are they doing right and what can you learn from them?
There are a million strategies for optimizing sales team productivity, but reducing admin tasks should probably be your topmost focus. We discuss the other strategies below.
Embrace Advanced Tools
According to a report, most sales executives with a director-level title or higher rely on an average of 11 tools to help them gather data, save time, and be more productive.
For your salespeople who spend most of their time on the road, access to effective communication tools is of prime importance. So, if you haven’t yet provided your team with an enterprise-level instant communication app, it’s time to get one.
In addition to a communication app for increasing efficiency, your field reps will also need route planners to optimize their sales routes and fit in more client visits in a day. However, you shouldn’t use free apps to help your field reps plan multiple customer visits. Free software is only useful when you have one or two salespeople and a handful of customers. So, as your team expands and your customer base grows, you’ll need a more robust and advanced route planner that will help you increase the team’s productivity while reducing fuel costs and travel time.
Monitor and Measure Sales Activities
To enhance productivity and profitability, you first need to know where you currently stand. To do so, you can create dashboards to gain valuable insights into what your sales team is doing. Collecting and analyzing such accurate data can help you identify opportunities for improvement.
However, consistency is key to measuring activity-based metrics. If your team struggles to log their sales activities, you will not be able to establish an accurate benchmark to measure productivity. For instance, if one sales rep averages five minutes between two logged sales and another rep averages 15 minutes, you will require data to determine the root of the problem.
Set Short-Term Goals
Making your teams accountable by setting goals will allow your team members to reach beyond their current disposition and realize their full potential. This will produce results for your company.
Also, setting goals is an easy and effective way to increase your sales team’s productivity as they drive everyone’s motivation. In addition, if set reasonably, the goals will become the backbone of your sales team’s success and give them an action plan to achieve their targets.
One golden rule to remember though is that your team can only control the number of attempts they make each day. So, focus on improving productivity, not stress levels.
Invest in Ongoing Employee Training
Almost every company conducts onboarding training for new sales reps, but most companies lack ongoing training. Yet, according to one report, nearly 87% of sales training is forgotten in just a few weeks.
Before you blame your team for forgetting their training, first try to understand how the human brain retains information. It isn’t designed to remember large amounts of information for a prolonged period. In addition, retention rates are lower when the data is delivered verbally without any visual elements. Yet, most employee training is presented in exactly this way.
So, if you want your team to retain their training, arrange frequent training sessions. Ongoing training is as essential for your team’s productivity as equipping them with the right sales tools. Also, work on presenting the information in such a way that it is easy to remember.
Managing a team of field sales reps requires planning and focus. Having the right sales management tools is essential to drive the reps to follow a plan and to measure and monitor them appropriately. Also, if you have a plan in place, train your reps to follow the plan, measure their sales activities, and work on improving the results. That’s all you need to see your field sales team’s performance skyrocket.