Managing A Successful Field Sales Team: 9 Ways Good Leaders Can Make Their Sales Teams Great At Closing Deals.
There are a lot of ways to close a deal. Some companies do it with an “inside sales” approach, which simply means sales representatives sell to their leads from a central location. Inside sales reps conduct sales over the phone or via email transactions but they don’t sit down directly with customers.
Outside sales is an entirely different ballgame. An outside sales representative spend half of their time traveling to events, conferences, and other engagements in order to meet leads face-to-face and interact on a more personal level. They might also meet a prospect for lunch or in an office setting. Like the name says, outside sales means getting out there and engaging sales leads.
Inside sales or outside sales, we’re still talking field sales and the goal of the sales rep is the same – connect with customers, close more deals, increase sales, and make big money for yourself and the company.
For field sales managers, the question becomes, “How do you effectively lead your team members; how do you build a field sales process that exceeds quotas, converts prospects into customers, generates more sales, and helps grow the company?”
Suffice it to say, managing a field sales territory is hard work. However, there are a few core strategies that can help managers and companies see greater field sales success. This post touches on nine ways to strengthen field sales programs and give sales reps the tools and support they need to be successful.
9 Tips Sales Managers Can Use To Boost Field Sales Performance.
1. Open And Clear Communication
No matter what the business, if you’re a team leader communication is an essential tool to possess. It’s no different for field sales. Your sales reps will look to you for guidance, answers and best practices. Make sure there’s an open line of communication between you and your field sales reps. Also, make sure the information you provide is consistent and shared with every rep on the team.
Make sure your sales representatives know they have management support. That fuels trust, which, in turn, fuels performance. Remember that a big part of communication is being a good listener. Your sales reps should feel comfortable coming to you with concerns, questions and their own sales ideas.
2. Consistent Coaching and Training
A big part of managing a sales team is leading that team forward through ongoing training and personal coaching. Good field sales leaders are advocates for their sales reps. They see the areas where they might need help, they learn where their reps’ strengths and weakness lie, and they make an effort to help them improve.
Developing a clear and consistent sales training program is a great way to give field sales teams the general skills they need to improve their selling techniques. A good manager will also impart personal knowledge about the sales process to individual members of the sales team. After all, you’re the one managing because you’re a fields sales expert. Sharing your insight is a valuable asset to the team.
3. Hire The Right Sales Representatives
You can’t build a great field sales team unless you staff it with great salespeople.
Make sure the people you hire are the cream of the crop. They should be well aware of what the sales position entails and what management expects in terms of quotas and sales performance. Field sales is a competitive business, however, it’s important to build a cohesive team with people who love a little competition but also understand that working together and sharing information improves performance for everyone on the team. The right reps make all the difference in the world no matter what the sales environment.
4. The Right Software
The sales process has become software driven. Your field sales reps need a solid software solution to be selling at their very best. Software plays a pivotal role in the daily life of a sales rep, making it easy to schedule and track appointments, effectively handle customer relationship management (CRM), track time devoted to various tasks, and much more.
It’s particularly important to implement a good CRM solution to give your reps an effective way to manage customer relationships, prioritize tasks and accounts, and effectively work the sales pipeline. Your team should be laser focused on selling and the right software gives them the freedom to do just that.
5. Strong Project Management Tools
Field sales is a fast-paced business. Things can go off the rails pretty quickly if your sales process isn’t buttoned up and well organized. Make sure your sales team has the right project management tools at its disposal. This will give sales reps an easy way to keep abreast of their progress on various tasks. It will also provide them with clear guidelines and performance expectations. A good project management system will also provide you, as management, with greater visibility into team performance, so you can make any necessary adjustments to build a more successful field sales program.
6. Don’t Be Shy. Give Your Reps Valuable Feedback.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with effective project management. Sales is a fluid science. The landscape is constantly changing. What customers need and expect tends to evolve. Sales reps can enjoy a great sales cycle and then seem to run out of prospects. As a manager, it’s important to provide constructive feedback on a regular basis. Sometimes it might be to the group during a formal meeting where you go over sales data. Other times, it might be a one-on-one sit down with a sales rep who’s struggling. By the way, feedback is a two way street. Make sure your field sales reps are comfortable providing you with constructive feedback, as well. After all, being successful means continuing to improve. Learning how reps feel about your leadership style and the programs you’ve put in place can only make you a better field sales manager.
7. Never Stop Improving The Sales Process
Field sales at its best follows a well-thought-out sales process. This is more than scheduling meetings, building a sales pipeline, and managing accounts. A good sales program is built on a proven process that is made clear to every member of the team. Sure, there will be instances to deviate. However, having a clear sales process in place is essential to any sales team.
But you can’t rest on your laurels. Once you build a process that works, it’s important to keep refining it and adapting it to the changing needs of your customers and prospects.
8. Measure Performance and Results
You’ve put together a good field sales team. You’ve developed a consistent and well-defined selling process. You’re highly trained people are out there working the sales pipeline and engaging your prospects. Now, it’s time to make sure the field sales program you’ve put in place is actually being successful.
Why is measuring and tracking performance so important to building a successful sales team? First of all, this data tells you how well your sales reps are following the process you’ve put in place. For example, if you’ve determined that it takes meeting with 10 different leads each week to close two sales, you want to make sure all your sales reps are booking those 10 meetings. If they’re not complaint, they’re probably not hitting the numbers you’d like.
Measuring and tracking sales data also gives you a good idea of how well each stage of the sales process is working. You’ll spot problems in the sales pipeline. You’ll see when, where and how deals are being won and lost. You’ll be able to address issues quicker and more effectively – before they become bigger problems for your field sales teams and your company.
9. Recognize And Reward Sales Reps Who’ve Earned It
People who are born to be sales reps have a healthy competitive spirit. You just can’t succeed in field sales without one. There’s some ego involved in sales, too, and field sales reps like to be recognized for their outstanding performance. They’re not just crushing it every sales cycle and exceeding their quotas to earn the added commission. They’re doing because they are competitive, both internally and with the rest of the sales team.
A good field sales manager will make it a point to recognize top performers visibly, both to reward their efforts and to gently stoke the competitive fire that lives in every rep on the sales team.
Recognizing sales achievement, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean doling out giant cash rewards or lavish vacation trips or brand new cars or any other high-end incentive. It can be as simple as openly broadcasting the sales data to the rest of the team. Remember, these are competitive people, so even when they’re happy for a fellow salesperson, they also instinctively want the satisfaction that comes with leading the team in sales themselves.
Managing a field sales team is not for the feign of heart. It takes someone capable of being a motivator, monitor, guide, teacher, cheerleader, and, on occasion, a taskmaster.
While there’s no all-encompassing sales philosophy that works for every field sales program, there are certain tools and skills a manger can apply to make the job a whole lot easier and more rewarding.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember as a field sales leader, is that your job, first and foremost, is to make your team better. You’re there to inspire reps to become their best and make sure they have the tools to achieve it.
Accomplish this and sales will surely follow.
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