As a manager of a field team, you are expected to provide guidance to your sales team. Below are some examples of techniques and tools to help you improve your field team leadership and coach your sales team to achieve their goals.
In his blog post “Figuring It Out, Critical Sales Competency!”, author David Brock discusses conversations he has had with salespeople about what they need to be more effective. Some common requests were to have more and better sales collateral, case studies, references, demos, and competitive information to present to prospects when they have hesitations or objections during a sales pitch. He goes on in the post to say that of course organizations will never be able to give sales teams everything they want, and that high-performing salespeople are able to overcome challenges by finding creative solutions.
Nevertheless, it is beneficial for organizations to produce fresh, relevant content whenever they can. Original content is not just helpful for sales teams. Having content available for viewing or free download on your company’s website is useful for anticipating and answering consumers’ questions about your products/services, thus aiding them during their purchase process. By creating content that has the customer in mind, your organization will be able to separate itself from the competition.
Cut Down on Non-Sales Activities
Another complaint of salespeople that Brock cited was the amount of time they spend on non-sales activities. In fact, having to spend time looking for information on clients and filling out paperwork are among the top five pain points for sales representatives. Providing employees with tools that automate their administrative tasks will curb the frustration they are experiencing, as well as make the sales process more efficient. Organizations should consider employing a cloud-based software solution that can store client histories and make them accessible to representatives at any time. Similarly, some software options offer digital data collection functions which reduces the time representatives have to spend filling out forms by hand. Not to mention, manual data collection is subject to human error. Such inaccuracies can cause problems down the line.
Even the most talented sales representatives will need support from their managers to succeed. Harvard Business Review contributor Scott Edinger writes that coaching is a powerful tool that managers have at their disposal to improve the capability of their sales teams and that it should be a priority for developing sales talent. Despite these recommendations, a survey that Edinger conducted of a Fortune 500 telecom company’s sales team delivered troubling results. The findings indicated that sales team leaders rank themselves in the 79th percentile on a 0-100 scale of their coaching abilities. However, subordinates only ranked their leaders’ coaching abilities in the 38th percentile. This discrepancy shows that managers are either ignoring or are unaware of techniques that would make them better coaches.
Edinger proposes that good coaching happens when it is done in the context of a broader organizational goal. Some best practices for coaching include observation and feedback, strategy development, creating opportunities for practice, and detailed help with meeting preparation. Edinger also suggests using top-performers on your team as examples for others to follow. In order for constructive coaching to take place, ensure that your organization is using an efficient communications tool, such as an instant messaging platform.
If your organization is trying to optimize its sales team’s performance, take a good look at the systems and technologies that are currently in place. Is your organization doing everything it can to empower its salespeople? Creating great content, minimizing administrative tasks, and enhancing managers’ coaching techniques are all strategies for success. Even if your organization is experiencing a period of growth, remember that there is always room for improvement.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.