If your organization has field sales personnel spread across the country or across the globe, it's very important that you provide them with the time, attention, and management that is required in order to make them effective. We see lots of organizations that hire expensive field sales personnel only to leave them to their own devices and provide them with little supervision, guidance, mentoring, or coaching. This is a serious mistake.
Here are some suggested things that you can think about in order to effectively manage your remotely-based sales people.
First of all, plan to spend regular time in their territory visiting customers with them. If you are not the person to do this directly, make sure that you have a sales manager or other members of your management team who can do this. A good sales person, no matter how senior, should have someone from the head office or from management visiting customers at least once every quarter.
Second of all, schedule regular sales meetings in order to bring your field sales people together. I suggest at least once a quarter if not once a month. This will give you the opportunity to train them, stay in touch with them, work through problems or issues with them, and provide an active level of supervision and engagement to them that helps them to be more successful. We see many companies cutting their sales meeting budgets trying to improve their overall expenses in sales and marketing, but sometimes when it comes to cutting sales meetings this can really mean that they're being penny wise and pound foolish.
Third, make sure that you schedule regular conference calls and telephone calls with your sales people to get updates. I suggest as a sales manager that if you're not talking to your field sales people at least every few days if not every week, then you're really not doing your job. Sales people need to have active communication with their supervisors. Some companies leave these people to their own devices and it just doesn't make sense.
Fourth, make sure you get yourself a good CRM system that gives you the opportunity to measure and monitor the activity and the performance of your sales people from remote locations. I suggest salesforce.com but there are lots of online web-based CRM tools today that can easily allow you to see what your sales people are doing and how they're spending their days in real time.
Fifth, make sure that you just take an active interest in building a relationship with each of your field sales personnel. If you're going to hire these expensive people you simply cannot afford to neglect them. Yet I see many companies who deploy sales personnel and simply leave them alone. This isn't a good idea.
So if you're thinking about how to improve your field sales performance, start with these ideas that I've given you. They make a lot of sense and experience has shown that they can greatly boost the productivity, motivation, and the sales results of your team.
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