Field sales and service is a unique type of business focused on meeting the needs of customers that would be impossible to meet in a traditional office setting. Because of this, managing field-based teams and remote teams comes with a unique set of challenges that require innovative solutions and a specific approach to management. To help, we’ve gathered expert strategies that will assist you in managing a successful field-based team.
Use the right tools and technology
As a manager, you must push to have effective mobile technology in place for your field team. Giving your team the right solutions and training will set them up for success from the minute they step out the door. A great field sales tech stack will consist of:
- Workforce tracking based on location and check-in tools. Not only will this provide visibility into their day-to-day tasks, but it will also keep your reps accountable. The location of your reps and mobile check-in functions will allow you to monitor your rep’s activity to decide when intervention is necessary and to ensure that goals are being met.
- Communication tools. Instant communication via messaging apps such as Slack or Skype for Business are essential for employees that spend most of their time in the field or working remotely. The goal is to help bridge the communication gap that is inherently missing in remote teams, and allow you, as the manager, to support mobile reps at all times. The key is to keep your field employees connected with each other and foster a good work environment, keeping your team motivated as a group. Just because your reps aren’t in the office doesn’t mean you should sacrifice a supportive “office” culture.
- Calendar and route scheduling tools. Every remote sales teams’s goals include optimizing drive time, seeing more customers or prospects per day, and cutting down on repeated visits and cancellations. Streamlining and automating the routing and calendar scheduling processes will help optimize your sales rep’s time, and a mobile tool that provides this functionality is imperative for a field team.
Ensure an understanding of your company’s goals
Every team member must fully understand the goals and objectives of the organization, the team, and their own role. This involves communication on a regular basis, making sure you are giving your field employees enough detail during instruction (depending on their experience) to be able to complete their tasks properly.
The golden rule is over communicate rather than under communicate: this will save you from potential misunderstandings. Check that your employees understand your expectations by asking questions, and also follow up on what actions they are taking to help achieve their goals and contribute to the company’s objectives. When your team works in the field, you must take extra care to have clear projects and goals to keep engagement and performance high.
Trust your team
This is an extremely important concept. Trust from both management and their team cultivates a sense of loyalty, and in the remote environment, employees will be much more likely to keep the company’s interest in mind. Do not try to micromanage your mobile team — when managers lack trust in their team’s work ethic or abilities, employees tend to disengage, which actually fosters poor work ethic and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, keep focused on the goals that you have deemed important and don’t focus solely on activity.
Create a culture of communication
Be there for your reps when they need you. One of the problems many field-based and remote teams encounter is a feeling of isolation. Make sure you have regular calls and meetings with your reps, both one-on-one and as a team, and try to have reps come into the office for team meetings as much as they are willing or able. This will ensure that reps feel included, appreciated, and part of the big picture.
Keeping yourself available for your reps even when they are out of the office and in the field is very important as well. You may be able to impact the success of a deal or case they are working on, so be open to calls and requests for help or advice.
Managing a sales or service strategy, communicating with your team, and keeping them motivated and engaged when they are working across the country (or the world) can be tough. Having a game plan in addition to the right technology helps to make up for the lack of face time and difficult logistics of field sales and service. These factors will be the difference between a successful field-based team and an unsuccessful one.