Joint field work is where you and your representative make sales calls together. The sales representatives benefit and learn from your knowledge and experience, yet they are still are not working without a net, so to speak.
The problem most sales managers have when doing joint field work is they end up taking over the call completely. Some even forget the sales person is in the room! This does nothing to train or develop the sales representative. The real purpose of doing joint field work today is so your sales representative won’t need you on sales calls in the future.
The Process for Productive Joint Field Work
More specifically, developing a skill in a sales representative through joint field work is a five step process:
- Skill Identification – You first must identify the skill that you need to develop in your sales representative. Examples include telephone prospecting, fact finding, live demonstrations etc.
- Training Stage – You need to teach the skill, its purpose, and how to perform it properly. This may require multiple training sessions to complete.
- Sales Rep Observation Stage – This is where the sales representative watches you perform the skill with customers in the field. Essentially, you are showing them how to do it. Again this may require more than one session to complete.
- Manager Observation Stage – First they have to see the skill performed often enough. Then it’s time for them to try it for themselves. In this stage, the sales representative starts to practice the skill while you observe. For example, you could listen while they do prospecting calls on the phone. Or join them on a call when they present a proposal to a customer. At this stage, you must provide feedback by reinforcing the right behavior and correcting the wrong behavior. After several joint calls, this feedback will allow the sales representative to hone their skill until they become independent.
- Coaching Stage – Once you have observed the sales representative’s ability to perform the skill properly, you must motivate and coach them to use it repeatedly. Development is not complete until proper use of the skill is an internalized habit that is performed unconsciously. Again, this stage occurs over several calls and sometimes over an extended period of time. In fact, some managers say the coaching stage never really ends!
The Joint Field Work Planner included in my eBook, Action Plan for Sales Management Success is a worksheet that will help you plan and track your joint field work with your sales representative through the five steps mentioned above.
Don’t Forget About Your Top Sales Performers!
Do you spend most of your time working with the sales representatives on your team who produce the least amount of sales? If you can’t remember the last time you did a joint sales call with your top performer, you need to make some changes.
The 80/20 rule says: You spend 80 percent of your time on tasks that produce only 20 percent of your business. In sales management, the results can be dramatic when you start to shift your focus. Often, just a small increase in your time investment with your top performers can produce an exponential increase in your overall sales results.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of your sales representatives’ need to have the opportunity to make a connection with you. This can be either in a one on one meeting or with some joint field work. Your sales people are your customers, with your top performers being your best ones. As the old saying goes, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else like your best competitor will.
Sales Management Is No Place For Your Ego!
Successful sales managers understand they will be more successful when they work through and with other people, namely their sales team. They are confident with their personal selling abilities, but they also know that they will be more successful if they teach their team to sell and make them feel good about themselves while doing so.
In order to do this, as the sales manager, you need to check your ego at the door. You have to put your own need for recognition aside, and spend your efforts building up you team instead.
This is especially true when you do joint field work with your sales representatives. Sales people can get down on themselves pretty quickly, and that serves no purpose to anyone. You want your representative leaving the joint field work session feeling good about the experience and secure in the knowledge that you want them to succeed.
If you lost a sale, help them to learn from it, and move on. If you closed a sale together, give them all the credit and recognition for it. This is especially effective in front of other members of the sales team. As sales manager, you take all of the crap, but none of the glory.
The Bottom Line for Successful Joint Field Work with Your Sales Reps
When it comes right down to it, the goal of joint field work is to push the baby bird out of the nest, so to speak. However, he will never be able to take his first solo flight if he is only allowed to fly on your back.
Your job as sales manager is to show how, not do for. Remember, as the old saying goes, “The signs of a good sales manager are teeth marks on his tongue.”
“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”
For more proven techniques to help your sales reps achieve their sales potential, check out my webinar video, Your 90 Day Sales Rep Success Plan – How to create an On Boarding Process that puts your sales reps on the right road to success! It’s available for instant download and viewing. Watch it as often as you like, whenever you find it convenient.
Do you need to be a better coach to your sales team? Check out, Super Charge Your Sales Team-A Sales Manager’s Guide to Effective Coaching. It’s written by Robert J. Weese, a professional sales coach with a proven history of helping sales teams reach record revenue growth. Robert, a former competitive fencer, has decades of experience working with high performance athletes, and he knows the parallels between success in sports and success in sales are rooted in the same framework. Super Charge Your Sales Team-A Sales Manager’s Guide to Effective Coaching contains the information and the tools needed to improve your coaching skills and have an immediate positive effect on your sales results.