Optimising the field sales force

For many field sales representatives, CRM has traditionally been perceived as a burden. All too often, sales staff have seen taking time between meetings to boot up their laptop and key a report into the CRM system as wasted: time that could be spent doing what they do best – selling. As such field sales staff tend to do all their CRM reporting at the end of the day, or the end of the week, month or even quarter, severely degrading the quality and value of the data entered.

To compound the problem, that data then becomes difficult to use while on the move, making it challenging and time consuming to track progress or make calls in between prospect meetings, making the system seem even more redundant to them. The end result is that an organisation’s field sales force has fewer tools and less information to help them do their job, and sales managers and directors have limited insight into their sales team performance and activity.

Poor tools damage sales

While office based sales teams have had access to a wealth of customer knowledge, enabling them to share information to track progress, schedule calls and provide detailed reports to sales managers and directors, those on the road have, by and large, been left to rely on their own skill to manage relationships, with technology offering a last resort back-up. This situation has only been made worse by the slow response of the major CRM providers to the emergence of mobile technology. The initial moves to provide mobile optimised versions of their desktop software, failed to deliver a truly useful solution for field sales teams.

The lack of user friendly and suitable tools for field sales representatives has traditionally presented two key problems for organisations. Firstly they have been unable to provide the same quality of supporting tools to their field sales force, leaving them devoid of key resources to drive sales. Secondly, sales directors and managers have had limited information, and of dubious quality, to monitor field sales performance and provide targeted support and resource to the staff that require it the most. With significant time lapses between meetings and reporting, they have had limited data with which to monitor progress, output and sales success, meaning their ability to further improve activity has been hampered.

Mobile optimisation for your field sales team

So what do organisations need to optimise their field sales force teams and ensure they are performing to their maximum ability and capacity at all times? First and foremost field sales teams need to have easy access to the same information and resources as their office based colleagues, presented in a way that is optimised for their working environment and mobile devices. This includes relationship tracking, discovering prospects, client and customer history, purchase and order details, contacts and meeting reminders. Presentations and sales collateral should be made available in an easily accessible, mobile friendly way, to ensure a field sales employee has all the tools required to showcase the product, service or solution.

Furthermore it should also include the functionality to quickly and efficiently place orders and process the appropriate ‘paperwork’ to ensure a streamlined sales process. By doing this organisations will provide their mobile sales team with the resources they require to properly maintain relationships and boost sales.

In order to realise this businesses must ensure that field sales teams are no longer slaves to software, and instead deliver an environment where the CRM works for and reports to them. This can be achieved by providing field sales representatives with fully automated reporting mechanisms, utilising voice-to-text technology and geo-location tracking, to ensure that the best possible data and information is automated into the system. This will empower field sales force teams with better knowledge throughout the sales process. By properly integrating the information accumulated by field sales and office sales teams, organisations achieve greater knowledge sharing across the business and optimise their processes.

In addition to this organisations should also consider delivering additional functionality that will enable staff to excel and make the most of their time on the road. For instance geo-location which is integrated with meeting schedules can help mobile sales staff identify more opportunities, quickly and efficiently, to improve average account coverage. It also facilitates the capacity to flag clients on the route that haven’t recently been contacted and prompt reminders for meetings to ensure that all prospects are nurtured and that clients are looked after.

Better Data, Better Analysis, Better Management

By providing these tools sales managers and directors will also gain greater insight into the activity and performance of their mobile sales force, empowering them to further optimise the sales process.

The enhanced data that managers and directors receive provides an accurate picture of mobile sales force activity, and facilitates enhanced analytics that allows them to provide field staff with the most relevant marketing materials for specific prospects or useful background information about similar accounts within the business.

An in-depth analytics measurement process pinpoints which leads result in successful opportunities assisting sales managers to identify blind spots as well as prospects in their opportunity cycle. Furthermore, good data collection can accurately predict sales trends and assist in making informed decisions that can ultimately save time and resources so that organisations can productively focus on the most interested targets.

With mobile, everything can be tracked on the go and in real time. When each sales representative has a location-centric mobile device, businesses can gather information such as location of sales, where and who they visited and sold to, how many new clients were added to the book, and how many existing prospects remain to be chased. Mobile can also provide information on activity at events and trade shows providing a full and accurate picture of their mobile sales staff performance.

Furthermore a truly mobile CRM solution empowers sales managers and directors to identify which staff need greater support and resource and build a clear and accurate picture of individual performance. These metrics can then be shared with field sales staff to foster a culture of self-evaluation and incentivises staff to improve performance. It also becomes clearer to see how staff are utilised and monitor workloads, while also ensuring that the best performers receive the recognition they deserve.

If organisations are going to realise their sales potential and optimise mobile sales team’s efficiency, they must deploy a truly mobile CRM and sales management tools that will address the challenges businesses have typically faced. When done right, the end result is a more efficient sales team that can take full advantage of being mobile.