Field sales and service is a unique type of business focused on meeting the needs of customers that would be impossible to achieve in a traditional office setting.
Because of this, managing field-based teams and remote teams comes with a 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.
1. Adopt the right tools and technology for the field, in the field
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 of the door.
A great field sales tech stack will consist of:
- Workforce tracking based on location, with check-in capabilities. Not only will this provide visibility into their day-to-day tasks, but it will also keep your reps accountable. Knowing the location of your reps—as well as utilizing mobile check-in functions— will allow you to monitor activity. Having that insight at your disposal will help you to decide when intervention is necessary and ensure that goals are being met.
- Communication tools. Instant communication via messaging apps such as Slack or Zoom 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, which cultivates a good working environment and keeps 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-based scheduling and routing optimization. Every remote sales team’s goals include optimizing drive time. This allows reps to see more customers or prospects each day, and it also cuts down on repeated visits and cancellations. Streamlining and automating the routing and calendar scheduling processes will make the most of your sales rep’s time. A mobile solution that provides this functionality is imperative for a field team.
2. 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 to 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.
3. Trust your team
This is an extremely important concept. Trust from both management and their team fosters a sense of loyalty and mutual respect. In the remote environment, employees will be much more likely to keep the company’s best interest in mind.
Do not try to micromanage your remote and/or field-based team. Trust that you have done your job in setting everyone up for success.
When managers lack trust in their team’s abilities, employees tend to disengage, which leads to poor work ethic.
4. 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 in the field is very important. 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.