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Time Management for Field Teams

time management for field teamsAs a field representative, it's easy to feel like you’re part of a huge circus act. Every day you juggle prospective clients, current clients, attending training sessions, and reporting to managers. It can often become overwhelming and cause you to burn out. The answer to avoiding burnout is time management. You have 40 hours in a work week, more or less, to get the job done. With the right time management and efficiency hacks, you can ensure that all of the tasks get completed and you stay on top of your game. Here are five ideas on how you can make the most out of your time:  

1. Identify Promising Prospects

Cold-calling and sending monotonous emails to prospects can be some of the least enjoyable tasks at hand, and thus it is often hard to find the motivation to do them. This is why you need to find prospects with purpose. Don’t just contact a random list of retailers or distributors; contact the ones that are most likely to buy your product or service. In other words, only reach out to those who your company deems a 'qualified’ lead or prospect. With help from your manager, your team should have a clear outline of what qualities and traits constitute a qualified prospect. This will help you narrow down your list of prospective clients to only include those that mean the most to your company.

What if you’re struggling to generate a base list? One sales hack you can use is the handy ‘saved-searches’ feature on LinkedIn. Through this feature, you can set up your LinkedIn account to receive periodic emails with search results under specific criteria. For example, you can search ‘grocery manager’ under ‘title’ and receive a list of grocery managers in the area twice a week. Once you begin reaching out to prospects, use your judgment to rate your leads based on who has the least and most promise so you can, once again, prioritize. Another way to add to your list of qualified leads is by asking current clients for referrals. Be choosy with your prospective clients to make sure they are worth your limited time. “Prospecting is an activity that tends to be more effective when it is deliberate, planned, and scheduled,” says Andrew Quinn, director of training and development at HubSpot.

2. Have a Backup Plan

It’s not uncommon that a client fails to attend a scheduled call or appointment. When this happens, put your frustrations aside and find a new purpose for that time you would’ve spent with the client. If you are out in the field, make sure that you have a list of additional clients or leads in the same or nearby regions that you can visit instead. Quinn says to always stay on task with where your mindset is at. For example, if you had a demo scheduled with a lead but the lead never picked up, keep working in the realm of demos. Schedule new ones or prepare for others that are already scheduled.

3. Set up Google Alerts

Most times it’s not enough to send a generic templated email to prospective clients. Even if you customize it with their name, prospects know that it is simply an email blast. This means that you need to do thorough research on your potential clients, so that you know exactly what they need and want. Sometimes it pays to wait for the right moment to contact a prospect, especially if he or she is ‘qualified’ by the standards of your company. The right moment may come when a company releases news. Keep tabs on your prospects by using Google Alerts so that you have the most up to date information on your clients. Through Google Alerts you can receive email notifications for any new updates or news on a topic, company, product, etc, of your choosing.  By creating an alert for a specific company, you can stay up to date with what is happening on their end and decide how you can help.

4. Allocate Time Efficiently

Sounds pretty straightforward but it’s incredibly important. Scheduling your time to maximize productivity can make a world of difference. This often means working around your clients’ schedules. For example, in the restaurant industry, 11 AM - 1 PM is quite possibly the worst time to call. Perhaps in a grocery store, most clients have their daily team meetings at 9 AM. Once you have identified these patterns, you can use your time wisely. If you know that clients or prospects are most busy at a certain time, use that time to complete other tasks such as doing client research or sending out emails that you meant to send earlier.

5. Just Do It

For all of those little tasks at the bottom of your priority list, just do them. In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen describes the 2 minute rule. “If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it,” he says. Don’t let small tasks like thank you notes or updates to managers build up and become big projects. For any managers out there, if you find that your team is struggling to complete mundane 2-minute tasks like scheduling or reporting, you may want to consider adopting a simple software to solve this problem. Field activity management software have capabilities that allow easy scheduling and automated reporting, among many other features. For example, through such a software, if a representative recorded notes from a client visit through their mobile application, you as a manager could view those notes instantaneously right in your office on your computer. Using a field activity management solution improves time management for both yourself and your field representatives.

With these 5 time management tips, you’re ready to tackle your week and avoid getting buried under loads of work!

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Aya Tsuruta

Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.

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