FIELD SALES: HOW TO MANAGE YOUR OUTSIDE SALESFORCE MORE EFFICIENTLY
Your sales reps cover a wide area. Their meetings can last from 10 seconds of ringing a doorbell to multiple hours meeting a whole company’s board.
Then they have to drive to the next call or meeting while also planning their tomorrow.
Alternatively, you have a dispatcher responsible for a whole team of field sales representatives. And that person has to do it all for everyone.
Managing field sales can be exhausting, let alone costly and inefficient.
Is there a better way?
What Are Field Sales?
Field sales, sometimes known as outside sales, is when a sales representative travels to customers on behalf of a company to meet with prospective clients and sell.
While door-to-door sales is a subcategory of field sales, cold selling trinkets and vacuums in-person isn’t what most outside salespeople do in 2020. Instead, it’s typically focused on B2B sales and client on-boarding, long-term relationship building, and account management.
Sales representatives have to take their time to build rapport with their prospects, and over the long term, convince them to try their product or service.
What Does a Field Sales Rep Do?
Exactly what a field sales rep does depends on the industry and business, but most commonly, the sales process starts with a list of leads.
It’s the job of the individual representative to take the list of company names, contact people, and phone numbers, and start relationships with and sell to as many companies as possible.
Let’s take a closer look at the main tasks and duties of an outside sales professional:
- Track and manage leads
A field sales rep needs to collect, manage, categorize, and track the progress of leads and prospects. They typically do this in a CRM system, but in an outside-sales heavy industry, they might use specialized sales pipeline management tools.
2. Qualify prospects
Before a rep devotes hours of their time to a meeting with a potential customer, you need to verify that they need your product/service, and have the ability to pay for it. Sales reps typically qualify prospects by doing research, or over the phone, or a junior sales rep might arrange a quick preliminary meeting.
3. Make sales runs
Reps will head out of the office to pitch the company’s main offerings to local businesses or other potential clients. These runs can cover the local area or a larger territory, requiring weeks to cover.
4. Follow up with potential clients
Once a prospect is interested, the sales rep must strike while the iron is hot. Follow-ups are sometimes made over the phone but can be done in person as well.
5. Manage accounts
Once you have closed a deal, it’s the agent’s job to schedule quarterly, biannual, or annual meetings to make sure the client relationship is healthy and productive.
Unique Field Sales Challenges for Sales Reps
While qualifying leads and closing the deal are the main goals in any area of sales, field sales pose a unique set of challenges to reps because you need to meet with each prospect in person.
The average field sales rep makes $67,866 per year. If you want to hit or exceed the average, you need to tackle and overcome the following challenges.
1. Planning takes too much time
Whether you’ve been assigned a list of leads or just a sales territory to cover, it’s challenging to come up with a plan of attack.
- Which area should you start in?
- Which time windows are the business owners likely available?
- In which order should you visit your prospects?
- If a meeting takes more or less time than planned, what do you do?
There are a lot of factors to consider.
2. Covering a wide area without wasting time or gas
66% of B2B sales cycles last between 2 and 12 months and require multiple in-person visits to close.
But it’s expensive to travel through cities, counties, and states, to visit a handful of companies over and over. Driving back and forth without an optimal route is an easy way to waste time and gas.
3. Maximizing sales visits in spite of restrictions
The more sales meetings you can get, the more deals you will close. Prioritizing VIP accounts with planned meetings, while also scheduling sales visits for other prospects is hard.
You need to consider potential account size, priorities, available time windows, and date or day of week restrictions.
4. Manually looking up destinations
Manually going through your list of leads and looking up routes and destinations in your Maps app on your phone isn’t an efficient process.
It also introduces the risk of human error; you could type in the wrong address and end up wasting hours.
5. Planning for the long term
It’s challenging to plan long term when you’re not just working out of an office. You have to consider unique traffic conditions throughout the day and area, meeting times that might change, and a lot of other dynamic factors.
Unique Field Sales Challenges for Dispatchers and Managers
Despite modern technology, most major industries still rely heavily on outside sales. For example, 74% of medical sales agents were still field reps in 2019. But managing a workforce of salespeople who are constantly on the road can be tough.
You need to consider rapport and existing relationships when assigning sales territories. To allocate last-minute meetings efficiently, you need to know where salespeople are at all times.
Let’s cover the challenges in more detail.
1. Hard to assign the right rep to each meeting
49% of businesses use a blended approach of inside and outside sales, warming up and getting to know leads before trying to close in person.
So religiously following the assigned sales territories isn’t always the right approach. You need to consider customer history, sales rep speciality, and other factors.
2. Keeping track of reps is a huge challenge
Field sales is an industry where a lot of significant changes can happen at the last minute. So you need to keep track of every member of your sales team at all times. But without the right tools, it’s just not feasible.
3. Difficult to adjust to last-minute changes
Even if you do know where all your reps are, some last-minute changes require significant changes to schedules that are very hard to implement manually.
For example, if a salesperson calls in sick, dividing up their appointments among reps in adjacent territories is a task that can take hours or even days.
4. No way to track performance
Are your reps following their schedules? Are they getting to their meetings on time? How many sales meetings are they doing per week?
With a manual setup, you have to rely on sales reps self-reporting all these numbers.
This article is published by tcbassociates.com based on Content Marketing Partnership with optimoroute.com