Your company’s field force is the face of the company. Building this team can be expensive, time-consuming and filled with pitfalls. Many leaders have learned the hard way to approaching this topic that resulted in too much turnover, a reliance on hiring on gut instincts and remaining loyal to underperformers for too long.
Many factors impact your company’s field force but improving their results can fit into three categories: Foundation, Evolution and Adoption. This three-part blog series shares common approaches to stabilize and improve field force organizations. Field Force Foundation concentrates on the most important elements of continuous improvement – your existing field force team members.
As companies face revenue plateaus, dropping morale or sales downturns, knee-jerk leaders may seek wholesale leadership and field force changes. Before taking any action, take a moment to appreciate and properly assess your company’s field force. Internal assessments often view associates through the lens of past history or through anecdotes.
Sometimes, companies conduct skip level meetings internally, activate HR/Organizational Development or partner with outside consultants to provide unbiased, one-on-one structured interviews to generate a snapshot of the team’s practices, talent level and goals. When an outsider asks consistent questions to every member of your team, patterns quickly emerge. The message may be painful to hear but making the necessary changes with the existing team is the most economical and quickest way to enact change.
Research shows that investments in your own team before making wholesale changes will provide amazing dividends and likely lowering your future expenses. Before conducting any change, leadership examines the existing field force for quick and easy improvements. Automotive clients often identify employee turnover as a reason for discontent or new vendor selection.
The root cause of these challenge areas often focuses on the company leadership, which hired and trained the existing team. After hearing from the associates, next pivot to safely sharing the insights with the leadership team for discussion and leadership improvement.
Most sales managers have never attended a single sales management training course neither do they consistently read books on leadership. Without proper guidance, sales managers may remain frozen in their existing patterns.
Applying lessons from the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute, Wirthy consultants provide customized leadership development projects to improve sales management results. Sample methods include the 4 keys to coaching, conducting effective meetings and focusing on the automotive giant, Toyota’s, spirit of genchi genbutsu (‘go look, go see’).
Silently attending your managers’ meetings to understand his/her style and the team’s response the leadership style reveals an amazing amount of data. After the meetings, the company/consultant should share development insights intended to expand manager effectiveness in the moment. Through one-on-one meetings, the goal is to determine the proper development needs including establishing proper expectations, building associate accountability and creating efficiency-building techniques.
Companies that invest in Sales Manager training outperform their sales goals. Investments at the top have a positive, company-wide impact. In a Vantage Point study, companies investing more training on the sales leadership significantly improved company revenue.
Once again, research shows investments in your own team before making wholesale changes will generate more revenue.
Having first focused on your internal team and results, transition from learning to doing. Team development activities generate a consistent sales or account management philosophy aligning the leadership team with your field force activities.
Team activities can help build camaraderie and enhance best-practice sharing. Starting at the foundational level, advance from simple to more complex projects depending upon individual field force needs.
The adult learner learns by doing. All team development sessions should utilize the interactive show and do methodology with active participant involvement. This ‘learn by doing’ methodology ensures long-term practice benefiting both the team and your car dealership clients.
If your company is facing field force challenges, concentrate on internal improvements before making expensive, wholesale changes. Research repeatedly shows that small, internal investments in your team will increase revenue, positively impact associate retention and lower overall expenses.
If challenges exist beyond your company’s field force foundation, it may be time to move to evolution including properly aligning the company’s territories for efficiency and profits, building talent candidate personas and the talent acquisition process. For details, check out Wirthy’s Creating Field Force Evolution blog.
To learn more, schedule a consulting call at https://calendly.com/wirthy/wirthy-discussion