Field reps have a wide array of responsibilities including order management and merchandising, but one of their most importat tasks is to be excellent salespeople. Check out some of the top sales trends that will be affecting SMBs with field teams in the new year, and how to manage them effectively.
1. Rise of Software Options
For teams deployed in the field, attracting and signing on new customers can be a challenge. The line of communication between managers and field reps is stretched further than in a traditional office setting. This can cause special instructions for a sales pitch to be lost, and result in a lost client. For example, if a manager is aware that a prospective client has already been sought out by the company, they would know to be sensitive to that fact during the second visit. If this knowledge doesn’t reach the field rep in time, they can come off as being pushy.
Though communication on sales visits can be difficult for SMBs with remote field teams, there is a growing trend of software tools specifically tailored for this issue. SMBs can typically implement software at a faster rate than large corporations due to a smaller workforce. This rapid adoption and accompanying levels of business retention has pushed software companies to develop a growing number of tools specifically designed for these high-value clients. SMB tools like Field Activity Management software have simple user interfaces that allow quick and efficient communication between managers and reps, driving up the quality of sales pitches.
Though the rise of software solutions is exciting for SMB prosperity, success in business will almost always depend on the face-to-face interactions your reps have with clients. In Zero to One, Peter Thiel emphasized the importance of what he calls “complementarity.” While some business owners push the advance of technology and software as a success strategy, there are others who insist that the key to retaining clients is through personal interaction. Complementarity means pairing the best of both strategies. Use software to its full advantage, but feed that efficiency and progress with human support.
Thiel argues that complementarity is the key to turning leads into conversations, and lasting customers. Field reps that work with SMBs can “complement” their software advances in many ways. For example, having reps that can provide intelligent advice on both their product and competing brands will leave prospects with the impression of excellent customer service, which is now a key factor in penetrating markets. Allow a software solution to streamline communication and simplify activities like audits and merchandising. That way, field reps will be organized, focused, and equipped to provide complementary service that will set your SMB apart from the pack.
3. Territory Management
Another dominating sales trend for field teams in 2015 will be territory management. As young and growing SMBs begin to expand, deployment of reps can become challenging. When more clients are added to the pool, reps may have to visit more places in one day, and will be taking new routes to get to those locations. Without a tool to track the locations of your reps, it can be easy for both managers and reps to lose track of which rep is assigned to which client. This can cause a prospective client to be abandoned or create an overlap of reps, both of which hurt the reputation of the business.
Studies show that SMBs stand to lose up to 7% of prospective sales due to poor territory management. To solve territory mistakes and inefficiencies, SMBs should consider leveraging Field Activity Management software. This type of tool enables managers to see where each of their reps are at any given time, allowing them to provide reps with alternative routes that will waste less fuel and free up time to talk with new prospects. Additionally, the visibility of your entire sales territory will allow you to see when two reps are headed to the same place, so you can eliminate the problem before the client is even aware of it.
Leading the Innovation
For SMBs with field teams, retaining current clients and landing prospects comes with a unique set of challenges. The distance between managers and reps means that communication can often be misinterpreted or delivered too late. Additionally, a growing SMB can experience tension if the workforce does not have strictly defined territories. By implementing one of the growing number of software solutions, sales teams in the field will be able to clearly communicate with management, and will have more time to deliver exceptional customer service. Your SMB can be a leader of innovation in 2015 by recognizing these three sales trends and using them to your full advantage.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.