How To Manage Sales People Who Are Located All Over The Country

dan-6One of the things I do in my business is work with sales managers helping them to manage, measure and motivate their sales people. This is not an easy thing to do when you consider that sales people are actually a very different breed from other people in a company. They are often, driven, motivated, and ambitious at some times and depressed and down at other times. The job of a good sales manager is to know when to drive his sales people to their own success level, encouraging them when they are on the way up and then picking them off the floor when they are on the way down. The motivational part of being a sales manager is probably the most important aspect, not to mention trickiest part of the job.

Sales people are often mavericks. The reason they wanted to be sales people in the first place was so that they could have their independence. They want to work on their own; make their own hours and come and go as they wish. Often they are hundreds even thousands of miles from the home office so they do have all the freedom they want. But of course it is the job of the sales manager to make sure they are at work as much as they need to be to get the job done. This means she has to institute a reporting system that will make sure that the sales person is always accountable. This system should consist of weekly status reports, as well as daily check-ins with the office. And what this all means is a heck of a lot of communications.

There is also another factor that a sales manager has to make sure of and that is that his sales people all feel that they part of a team. Those of us who have been out there know full well that it can get pretty lonely. The good news at times is that as a sales person you have freedom because you are on your own; but that can also be the bad news. It gets lonely out there on your own. You can start to feel isolated. You’re not in the middle of the office gossip and you can start to feel left out. It is the sales manager’s job to make sure that this doesn’t happen. He has to make sure that his sales people wherever they are located feel that they are part of the company, an integral part of the company. She has to come up with ways to make sure her sales people are included in the company’s daily and weekly happenings. One of the best ways to do this is to have a weekly sales call putting all the sales people on the phone as well as the sales manager and other members of the management team. In this way at least once a week the sales people get to talk with the management team and with each other, so that they can communicate with everyone, The GM can talk about what is going on in the shop as can the Quality and engineering managers. This gives everyone an excellent opportunity to communicate.

I often invite the sales people to have their own conference calls as well so that they can discuss some of the challenges they are having in getting business. They can exchange ideas and give each other tips and hints on how to win more business. They can also talk about what is going on at some of their large multi-location customers and develop corporate strategies for handling those accounts. And of course they can give each other leads. This kind of meeting is key to developing a true sales team.

Finally, I cannot recommend enough that you bring the sales people into the company at least once a year to have a sales meeting. I mean a real working sales meeting consisting of reviewing what the company did in the past year and where it is going in the coming year. The sales people should come in fully prepared to discuss their territory strategies including account plans and forecasts. The Sales Manager should be prepared to discuss the sales strategy and tactics for the coming year. The President should be prepared to discuss the company’s overall financial health as well as direction, the GM should be prepared to report in the company’s performance in terms and delivery, the Quality manager should be prepared to talk about yield performance, RMAs, ISO registration and audits and the Engineering manager should be prepared to talk about any new technologies that the company is investing in.

Although there should be some bonding time, a few dinners and maybe a sporting event the entire group attends together this meeting should be brief (just three days at most) and all business-like. Gone are the days of week-long sales meetings with skits and events and golfing. Those days are over, sales meetings costs a lot of money and the time invested in these meetings should be used wisely.

The most important thing is for people to get together and feel like they are all a part of the same team. This is critical for the entire team and vital to those sales guys who tend to get lonely out there.

Its only common sense.

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