A good field sales manager will naturally seek to build their team from the most experienced and effective agents they can find. A track record of successful conversions and target attainment are among the most attractive qualities a field sales rep can possess.
But even with the most skilled team in place, it is still possible to fail. Ironically these failings are unlikely to be down to unrealistic sales targets or issues with your products and services. Failure of the sales team is often caused by internal processes and poor customer management software.
- Team coordination problems
Maximised sales conversions rely on having the right field sales rep in the right place at the right time. Whether operating a cold call campaign or following up marketing qualified leads, your team needs to be deployed according to the task in hand.
As the marketplace matures, customers expect increasingly personalised services – even at the pre-sales stage. This creates an extra layer of complexity for the Head of Field Sales when assigning team members and resources. Get the mix wrong, and potential clients will simply choose to do business with one of your competitors who can deliver improved personalisation.
Successful field sales co-ordination has traditionally been a combination of skill, insight and luck. As field force automation technology and data collection methods have evolved however, luck is no longer a factor – many of the unknowns in planning can be identified by analysing all of the available customer data.
Every firm should already be using customer management software to capture data from the very first point of contact. Over time it becomes possible to draw up a detailed understanding of the individual and their preferences. It is then a case of identifying the right field sales rep, equipping them with the right information and resources, and arranging an appointment with the prospect.
At a higher level, aggregated data provides a detailed overview of prospects. This information can be manipulated to group prospects by demographic, economic activity or geographic region, so that field sales campaigns can be planned and executed against these groupings. Field force automation can then help speed up the assignment process and reduce your workload too.
Without data, the job of assigning and managing field sales team is incredibly difficult, which is why even exceptional sales reps can fail.
- Data accuracy problems
Data is crucial to planning field sales assignments, and the quality of that information has a direct bearing on activities. If the Head of Field Sales is being supplied with inaccurate data, any plans formulated using that information will be similarly flawed.
The field sales team (and in reality, the rest of the business) must commit to increasing the quality and accuracy of the data they collect and store in their customer management software. This is actually of importance for two reasons – first to improve the quality of decisions made using that information, and second, to meet obligations under the Global Data Protection Regulation that all personal data stored is accurate.
At street level, the Head of Field Sales needs to equip agents with field sales software that can capture data in real-time – and preferably upload that data back to head office automatically. Moving from a paper or Excel-based solution reduces the potential for human error (“fat fingers”) creating inaccuracies as data is transcribed into the central customer management software. The field sales software can even be configured to perform error-checking at source to basic mistakes being entered into the system.
Accurate data will help to reduce the number of follow-up visits/calls required to close sales too. Which means that customers can be on-boarded more quickly, reducing the cost of each sale. And any future field sales campaigns create using that data will be better targeted too – helping to resolve the first challenge outlined above.
Helping your field sales team succeed
In reality, success in the field will most likely come through better access to more accurate data. If your business can these issues, you will have all the required processes and infrastructure in place to equip an effective field sales team; it’s then down to the people to play their part.
To learn more about building systems that can help meet the challenge of consumer challenge groups and digital transformation programs, please get in touch with the team:
Grace Moore/Amy Keith