When managing a remote or field sales team, you need to be confident they’re doing what they say. Unlike an inside sales team, as a manager, you don’t have as much oversight and control.
Field sales reps need to be self-motivated, self-reliant and disciplined. You should be confident they will get up each day, make calls, send emails and take meetings. You need to know that pipeline is full and they’re doing all they can to hit targets.
Depending on where your offices are, these business development executives may only come into the office once a week or month. Most of the time you don’t see them. Effectively, for them, their offices are at home, their car, coffee shops, and anywhere else they might temporarily work for a while. Which means trust gained from confidence and data is so important.
Field Sales: Trust Deficit
However, when it comes to remote teams, trust is not easy without oversight. When it comes to oversight, the tools, for most managers, are limited. Here is why most managers struggle to maintain trust with their team:
#1: Updating a CRM once a week does not give a manager a real-time overview of the sales pipeline, meetings the team have conducted, calls made, emails sent and other key interactions. Once a week updates, usually on a Friday, provide a summary. And not a great one either. Your team doesn’t enjoy admin, except for the fact they can update a CRM on a laptop, tablet or phone and claim they’re working.
Most managers don’t enjoy reading through these notes. Say a CRM is updated on a Friday afternoon, then the information isn’t usually reviewed until later the following week. Not only does this mean that a manager is at least one week behind real-time events, so unable to suggest improvements and new courses of action, but this means there is no way to know if someone is lying about what they’ve done that week.
#2: Misleading the company is too easy
One of your team could claim to have had four meetings in a single day. Great! But what they might not tell you is they crammed those meetings early into the day, seeing clients and prospects in the same area, knowing it wouldn’t take long. They could spend the rest of the afternoon in the gym, watching TV, down the pub, or on the golf course.
Without effective, real-time oversight, you could find that time is being wasted. Opportunities missed. And ultimately, you are paying a sales team to have fun instead of generating more leads, making more calls, and working to hit or exceed the targets.
All an agent needs to cheat an employer is the means (a car, no manager watching over them), motive (wanting to do something instead of working) and justification (closing a few deals the previous week). Once an employee can, and they can justify to themselves why they want to cheat an employer of an honest few hours work, and they get away with it, you might find this becomes a regular habit. Often, managers are none the wiser.
#3: CRMs can’t track locations
CRMs don’t come with geo-location data for managers. With i-snapshot, field agents fill out details of a meeting in real-time, often just after leaving a client or prospect. This snapshot of data includes where they are. Which means you can check, to make sure your team are where they say, meeting with the prospect or client you are expecting, instead of at the gym, at home, or down the pub.
Sales managers shouldn’t have to worry about their team skipping out on work. But many do. And many get away with it. With the right tools, managing and motivating them is easier, making it possible to rebuild trust and improve working relationships. It also helps to know they’re spending more time making calls and emails to generate leads and work harder to hit sales targets, which isn’t possible without real-time oversight of activities.
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