Every seasoned sales manager has had to deal with rogues on the team. What’s more, it’s not only those routinely turning up late for appointments, takeaway coffee in hand, who are bending the rules.
There are dozens of steps being missed every day, causing a domino effect of inefficiencies that are impacting the running of your business. Whether sales reps have deviated from their planned routes, encroaching on other reps’ territory, fudged procedure to close a quick sale, or failed to report performance against KPIs, rogue reps can unset the delicate balance of your sales channel.
Thankfully there’s something you can do about it. If you’re the sales manager of a utilities company, tracking these misdemeanours before they add up to one massive demerit, is possible. Field sales software can help renegade representatives fall in line with the rest of your team - while circumnavigating the need to micromanage.
To err is human, but to sell is divine
Up to a certain point, instances of sales agents deviating from the guidelines can be put down to human nature. Having allowed for the inevitable minority of mischief-makers, there are clearly deeper issues with how sales teams are set up and how they operate.
Individuals may be making bad choices – but some are being enabled or caused to do so by procedural flaws. Those cutting corners may feel that is the only way to hit their sales quota, given the tools at their disposal; poor communicators may be struggling to master their existing reporting system; and some less defensible individuals may feel empowered to misbehave due to a perceived lack of managerial overview.
Understanding that rogue behaviours can stem from procedural shortcomings – or at least encourage them – is the first step towards getting everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
Encourage compliance by giving confidence
The best way to reduce rogue behaviours in your sales team is to place your representatives within a process that’s geared for success, subject to their compliance.
This can be achieved by implementing comprehensive team-wide communications and data-driven planning in the sales process, with agents in the field and management at the office communicating constantly to identify the most advantageous route forward.
In practice, this means putting a door-to-door software at the rep’s fingertips, whether via their phone, tablet or laptop. In this way, it’s possible for management to provide them with real-time instruction and intelligence, based on a centrally stored database combining all the team’s data from every representative. You give them the information that helps them succeed; they respond with full feedback and completed customer documentation after every sale.
Seeing that this collaborative, data-assisted approach can bear fruit will give sales representatives confidence in the process – and by extension, that they can get results without bending the rules.
Give micromanagement a miss
Managing a team with field sales software makes it possible to keep an eye on all your representatives at once, in a predominantly passive fashion that makes life easier for managers, and less tense for reps.
Rather than micromanaging individuals, the sales manager can simply review the data fed back by the salesforce as a whole to identify laggards in terms of sales made, customer contact time, and so on.
Most sales reps will be mindful they can be monitored in this way, and will therefore be reminded to work as expected. A minority might have consider this approach a bit too Big Brother for their liking, but really, it is far fairer than imperfectly informed man management. So long as all team members are using their sales tracker software correctly, their work will be truly reflected in the data.
Why rogue reps need reigning in by May 2018
When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into play on May 25th 2018, sales managers operating within the EU will have all the more reason to ensure their reps stick to the rules. Companies found to have breached GDPR will face fines of up to € 20 million, or 4% of their turnover from the previous year.
As many of you will already know, getting to grips with GDPR is a many-layered process. On a granular level, there’s a need for top-down understanding of the new regulation, which will require both staff training and operational updates.
That’s a big job – but there’s a more transformative task at hand that becomes clear when you take a wide-lens view of GDPR.
Central to the regulation is the instruction to stop selling to lukewarm leads based on their implied consent, and to start selling solely to those who have explicitly opted in. For many sellers, this represents an about-turn – from playing the numbers game to playing a data game that relies on an appropriate field sales solution.
Sales teams need an up-to-date approach to selling that earns reps’ good behaviour through its sheer effectiveness. Ideally, they’ll have it ready by May.
If you have any questions on this, or any Utilities-related queries, please get in touch with the team:
Grace Moore/Amy Keith