Top 5 Actions for a Sales Manager to develop their team in the field

As a Sales Manager, your time spent developing your team is valuable; and when you go on a field trip this is one of your moments to be a leader, coach, mentor and manager.  What you do, and how you do it, will have a direct impact on the performance of your sales people. 

Plan and prepare for it like you would with your best customer.

1. Let the sales person set the developmental focus

Encourage your team to own their personal development.  Ask them what they would like to focus on.  If it is their idea, then they will be more open to what support you can give.  If your team have never done this, it may take some time – but it will be worth it!  It saves you time and gets better engagement.

2. Ensure the journey plan allows the sales person to show their skills

If you are seeing a “big ticket” opportunity, you may need to support and team sell rather than focus on coaching (see below “Jump in”).  Before the day, brief your team member to choose accounts where they can demonstrate and practice the skills around their development areas.  Make sure some appointments are set and a clear journey plan in place.  The cost to the business of a manager and rep being in the field for a day is probably in excess of £500.  Make sure you get full value out of it.

3. Clear introductions and purpose to each customer

It feels awkward being quiet in a call and you shouldn’t be, but you are there primarily to observe.  Clear introductions and clarity of purpose to the customer is courteous and professional.  The customer is probably the least apprehensive person in the room!

4. Don’t jump in

You may have become Sales Manager because you were the best sales person.  This doesn’t mean that you must keep showing it!  “Keep the sale and lose the rep; or lose the sale and keep the rep” (See also the point about journey planning above).  Your purpose is to evaluate and support the rep, and if you keep jumping in, you won’t get a true picture of their skills.  Caveat – for brand new reps you may take this approach to demonstrate the skills.  But ensure they have the chance to demonstrate them as well!

5. Short, actionable feedback after each call

An hour review after each call is painfully long and any key message gets diluted by conversation.  Spend no more than 5 minutes reviewing each call (except for larger Strategic Accounts calls); focusing primarily on what the sales person did right, did nearly right and could do differently.  Then get moving to the next call so they can practice whilst it is fresh in their minds.  NB Some sales people want to extend the feedback session – primarily as a decoy from going to more customers!

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