Sales Force Management – Part II
Business Heads travel across location to meet their field sales force and clients. The clients either complain or compliment during such visits. Either your sales executive or the client may be making best use of the business head’s presence. Do the business heads get to actually see the reality? It’s a million dollar question.
Consider what happens once a business head announces his field visit plan. The sales team, by default, would look to satisfy the leader. What follows next is everybody’s guess. Is it worth the leaders’ time to visit locations with uncertain, unclear objectives?
No matter what, this practice has not stopped till date. The golden question is WHY? Leaders feel powerless when they don’t know what is happening at the ground level. They would want to know how their distribution strategy is working. However, they seldom get realistic feedback about the products and distribution strategies from the field. This pushes them to either plan for unscheduled visits or lay down a permanent field visit plan.
The logic behind the following two objectives of conducting field visits is yet blurred to me
- Making sales calls
- Reviewing the field force personally
Leaders should ideally use the field visit to see how their sales team is interacting with the client and how their managers are conducting performance reviews. It is disheartening to see a business head as desperate as a sales executive to clinch a deal.
Leaders often advocate against micro management and try to underplay sales reporting. The same leaders relentlessly conduct field visits throughout the year. You may have even witnessed leaders who try to control the entire field force, in-turn stealing the mental ownership of the managerial pipeline. The lingo is interesting – ‘Open channel communication’ – communicate directly with the field force, thus making the role of other managers in the system obsolete. If such a practice exists in your organization, all that is needed is one head and everyone reporting in to him. Such practices indicate absence of leadership in the organization.
Is it ok to micro manage? Will macro management suit a sales driven organisation? These questions drive business heads nuts. There is nothing wrong with micro or macro management. It has to be based on the readiness of the person you are dealing with. It can’t be a default approach for a group. Communicate your expectations to your capable one-downs and leave the rest for them to manage. If your one-down is not ready to deliver, handhold and micro manage till such time she is ready.
‘Sales reporting’ is not micro management. It is crucial for the leaders to have a tab on ground realities. It can help you to reduce the number of filed visits or at-least to have clear and specific objectives for the field visits. A complete sales reporting covers
- Target Vs achievement
- Efforts put by the frontline team with managers’ feedback and action plan for areas of improvement
- Competency proficiency of the frontline team with managers’ feedback and action plan for areas of improvement
Without monitoring efforts & competencies you will not know
- If your strategy is getting implemented completely
- If your managers have understood your strategy
- If you have assigned realistic targets
- If your field force is ready to implement the strategy
- If the managers are supporting the team in building their capability
- If your resource allocation is appropriate
- If the work environment is conducive for peak performance
The real power of the leader lies in getting things done through people. This means empowering, enabling, and trusting the managers to get the best out of them. If you treat people like kids, either by reprimanding or over-protecting them, they will behave like and remain kids.
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- The Exit Route
- Sales Force Management – Part II
- High Performers with Low Ethics
- Talent Management Part II – The Classical Bottleneck
- A Good-bye Well Said
- Leaders, What’s your Single Important Deliverable?
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