It is one of the paradoxes inherent in Field Team management… We don't want our field teams to be just average… we want them to be better than average, but since the measure of a team is built on the performance of all of the individuals who make up that team, the team's performance can be no better than the average of all of its members.
Fortunately, this presents a great opportunity for continuous improvement. If you want to improve the performance of your team, all you need to do is improve the performance of the individuals on the team! We can push this rational a bit further by saying that in order to improve the average performance of any team member, all we have to do is help them be better at the individual things that they do.
Putting it together, if you can identify specific skills that you can help your reps improve upon, then you can improve the overall performance of your reps; you can constantly move the average up by improving individual points of performance.
Here is a great example that should make it very clear.
Let's say that a beverage company (we'll call it Super Water to keep it generic) has a team of 20 field reps that go up and down the street selling and merchandising its 5 flavors of Super Water. Management knows that in order to be most successful, the reps need to be really good at 3 things:
- Visiting all of the customers in their territory on a regular basis,
- Selling in new flavors and promotions, and
- Merchandising the product to optimize its position on the shelf and in the store.
In order to drive higher sales, the company begins to measure and analyze:
- Which stores were being visited, and how often they were visited by the reps,
- Which flavors were available to consumers in each of the stores, and
- What the shelf and in-store position the brand had in each store.
Once all the data is collected, it is easy to calculate 'Average' for each rep in each of these categories. The typical scenario is that each rep is good at some things, and not as good at others. By measuring and determining 'average' effectiveness for each of the activities, the company is able to develop a scorecard for each rep, which points out the areas of opportunity.
Some reps may need to work on getting to more customers each day, while others may need to focus on pushing for preferred shelf space more assertively. With these types of measurements and score-carding in place, Super Water can always be pushing to make their performance above average across the board!
Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.