It's important to provide as much support as possible for your remote sales teams. You want to make sure that they can count on you to answer questions, provide essential information, and guide them to do their best. At one time, the possibilities for communication were limited to phone calls and faxes. With today's technology, however, there are many tools and resources to make it easy for everyone to stay in touch. Rory Angold, results-driven sales manager, shares five hacks to make life easier for you and your traveling sales teams.
1. Use a Cloud-based System
There are quite a few benefits to using a cloud-based infrastructure. It's more secure, convenient, and economical not to have to store information on your own servers. Another advantage is simplified communication between people working in different locations. It's incredibly efficient to have a single repository from which your team members can access information and collaborate. This reduces the need for a long series of separate communications.
A cloud-based system makes it possible for your sales team to check-in and communicate with one another no matter what kind of device or operating system anyone might be using. People today use a variety of devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Many use multiple devices that may use different operating systems (e.g., an iPhone, Windows laptop, or Chromebook) as they travel.
2. Use Time-Saving Tools
Time is always valuable in the world of sales. The faster team members can communicate and access essential information, the more time they have to focus on talking to leads and closing sales. There are various time hacks that can improve efficiency for sales reps on the road. These include apps, services, and practices. Here are some strategies, and apps that could be useful for you and your team:
• Use a reliable CRM. Customer Relationship Management software helps with accessing customer data, generating sales forecasts and reports, lead scoring, and more.
• Automate as many processes as possible. For example, use email templates and a service such as MailChimp to create automated follow-up messages for prospects. Invoicing is another task that's tedious and time-consuming if done manually. Use billing and invoicing software to automate it.
• Time tracking software. Sales reps, like other professionals, often aren't even aware of how they spend their time. Time-tracking software such as Hubstaff helps to clarify how time is actually spent so your team can become more efficient.
• Use route optimization software. The routes salespeople take can make a big difference when they have multiple appointments in different cities. Badger Map Route Planner, which integrates with Google Maps and many CRMs, lets sales reps plan the most efficient routes. This software is available for iPhone and iPad.
• Sales Rabbit - Helps assign and organize sales territories, maps customers, plans routes, and provides many sales training tools. Available for both iPhone and Android.
• Slack - There are quite a few apps that make communication and collaboration easier, but Slack is one of the most popular and provides a wide range of features. There's a free option for small teams. You can download the desktop and mobile apps for Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and Android.
• DocuSign - This is very useful for getting electronic signatures on the road and makes closing sales more efficient. Available for iPhone and Android.
Of course, the apps that will serve you best will vary depending on your needs and the type of business you have. You should always be on the lookout for ways to save time and increase efficiency for your sales team.
3. Stay in Touch
It's important to make the best possible use of your communication tools. Don't assume that your sales team has everything they need when you send them out. Just because they have leads and targets doesn't mean that they don't need additional help along the way. Not everyone realizes it when he or she needs guidance. That's why it's essential to have regular check-ins and meetings.
Ask your sales reps questions and invite them to ask anything about which they may need clarification. Staying in contact with your sales team is part of fostering accountability. If you only meet and talk to your sales reps occasionally, such as before and after they set out for a trip, it's hard to track their day-to-day habits. And it's these small details that can make a massive difference in results.
4. Be Prepared With Presentations
Old school sales reps had to pack everything they needed into their suitcases before hitting the road. If they neglected to bring anything, they were out of luck. Today, it's much easier to retrieve and print out materials from any location. It's best if you have a system in place that encourages your team members to put together the most effective presentations for their trips.
Customers, especially B2B customers, are impressed with case studies. You want to make it as easy as possible for sales reps to access relevant information such as data and related case studies to present to prospects. This comes back to having an efficient cloud-based content repository that allows for quick access to data.
5. Know the Customer
It's useful to develop a standardized sales process that your team uses in the field. This process is never a finished product, but something you should constantly be refining based on results. However, it's equally important to research prospects so their specific needs can be addressed. For example, we just mentioned the value of being able to provide information-rich presentations. To make presentations even more effective, personalize them, so they reflect the needs of the specific business that you're pitching. A few minutes of research can help you answer questions such as:
• What are your prospect's needs in relation to your product or service?
• Based on their size, experience, and reputation, what's a reasonable estimate of their budget?
• What are the major issues and challenges facing your prospect's industry right now?
• Who is the person or people with whom your team will be meeting? What's their background and experience?
These are some of the best ways to ensure your sales team members have everything it needs to perform their best on the road. Naturally, you need to choose apps and services that meet your specific needs. However, the main point is to make sure your team can provide the best possible information to prospects from any location.
About: Rory Angold has two decades of work experience in leadership and executive positions. He last managed field teams in California, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming for Zurich Direct Markets, a $1.5B business. Mr. Angold is a results-driven specialist in automotive dealer consulting, training, and reinsurance with a proven track record of developing people, putting together a winning Team with an infectious culture that empowers people to want to win.
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