How to manage your field sales remotely and in the face of uncertainty

How to manage your field sales remotely and in the face of uncertainty

The new reality has caught companies and whole industries off guard. Those changes are not only about moving meetings to online and sending documents via email - it's about сhanging behaviors of people. We just can’t manage them as we did before. Remote becomes the new normal and we must adapt to new realities. 

There are multiple things that we can't control, but let's stay positive and focus on improvements that we should implement.

What we can do to manage salespeople in the face of uncertainty?

The traditional campaign-based management takes several weeks - which is too long when the things are changing, literally, every day! In current circumstances, even the largest enterprises move to day-to-day planning and decision-making cycle:

What metrics should be measured?

In the face of uncertainty, consumers tend to make buying decisions harder and longer. Sales cycles may extend several times - so tracking today's sales and the number of orders isn’t enough to give you a clear picture of what your sales field is doing at the moment.

Sales activities measurements allow you to create a personalized approach to educating and motivating your sales representatives. It also helps to understand if salespeople are making enough calls, emails, and messages to reach their quota.

The bottom line here is that you can manage only what you can measure, as Peter Drucker famously said.

Which tools to use to collect sales data while on remote?

Some sales leaders gather their activities manually by requesting employed salespeople to send daily reports on the number of calls and demos they made today.

For that purpose, the best tool is Google Form - you ask salespeople to submit the form daily and the data is automatically pulled to linked Google table where they can structure and analyze stats.

This approach is “stupid” simple and this its advantage. However, it multiplies sales routine, so salespeople are likely to reject or ignore it. Also, the data inside these reports are not precise because of the always present human factor. 

Experian found that companies lose 12% of their annual revenue to BAD data. That confirms the importance of gathering reliable data and why it’s better to use automation.

Automatic Data Gathering

Traditional CRM solutions like Salesforce or SAP usually track how many contacts and tasks salesperson processes per day. However, the biggest disadvantage of such solutions is that their interface is too cumbersome for independent direct sellers, e.g. a few years ago a leading Network Marketing company spent $100M+ on the deployment of a CRM tool to their independent salespeople rejected to use (source).

That’s why some companies combine traditional CRMs with user-oriented digital sales assistants like Cotano which have an easy-to-use interface and automation to save salespeople’s time. These advantages motivate salespeople to do all their activity inside the app, providing management with precise data with no delay.

How to keep salespeople efficient while they work remotely?

Working from the home and staying efficient becomes a new obstacle. Disruptions by family, household tasks, cooking, etc. are certainly not making anyone more efficient ;) 

According to the research from the bestseller “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”, 75% of time and attention are lost on context switching. That’s why it is so crucial to teach salespeople to plan their day, avoid time-wasting and disruptions.

For keeping a team disciplined, we recommend scheduling daily team meetings at the same time on a recurring basis through Google Calendar and to run them through Zoom or Hangouts or any other teleconference tool. 

Another best practice is separating communication channels. Messengers are great for quick communication but it’s so easy to miss important notifications among tons of messages. We recommend using email for that purpose, asking the team to confirm reading the email by sending a reply (even with a simple 👍).

To organize a team collaboration remotely, we recommend using Kanban-based workflows like Trello, Asana or Cotano. From there, team members can plan, assign and manage tasks within the team. Take a look below to see how managers will be able to visualize their consumer funnel:

In Conclusion

To summarize, here’s the list of actions and tools we mentioned in the previous paragraphs:

  1. Prepare to replace your campaign-based management approach with day-to-day planning activities
  2. Make sure salespeople put enough effort into reaching the quota - measure their daily activities using Google Sheets, CRM solutions or sales assistants like Cotano.
  3. Teach salespeople to plan their day and reduce context switching while working from home
  4. Separate communication channels for quick communications and important notifications
  5. Provide team collaboration and alignment to get things done and meet deadlines
  6. Visualize current progress with Kanban-based services, such as Trello, Asana or Cotano

If you are open to discuss how to improve remote management and field sales performance, book a call with us to get more tactics for your specific case.