Part 1 of a 2 Part Series
When I was a sales manager and Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Harte-Hanks Communications my Management By Objective (MBO) was set-up that 80% of my bonus was based on the number of field rides and 20% on reaching sales targets. That’s quite different than most sales manager’s compensation plans – and you bet
I was in the field riding as many days as possible.
When we analyzed sales in relation to our sales manager’s field ride withs, we found our sales teams outperformed on the quarters with more field rides. The close ratios were higher and on top of that sellers closed deals with fewer visits with the customer.
No, we didn’t sell for our reps and we weren’t babysitters. We were able to observe how they sold and then coached on the spot. We were able to prevent sellers from taking short cuts or not following the sales process. We were able to build best practice sales habits and confidence. Plus because we strategized regularly on a variety of accounts the outcomes generated were more sales, better prepared selling days, superior sales conversations, more value selling, less discounting, and improved close ratios.
You’re still wondering about all those fires you’re putting out all day long and how would people be able to live without you in the office. Well, all those fires you are putting out all day long – they go away – your team steps up to the plate – your field coaching empowers them to take care of their own fires.
Here are 5 Ride-With Tips to Success
1. Introduce Field Ride-Withs to Avoid Pre-Ride Anxiety
If you aren’t currently conducting field rides-withs it will be a sudden change when you announce it. The first reaction of many sellers will be why, why me, what did I/we do wrong, are they looking to fire us?
Use a group setting or meeting for the announcement, live if possible, or group virtual with webcam. Do not under any circumstance make this announcement via email.
Position the new field ride-withs as What’s In It For Them. Your job is to assist them to reach their full potential, be the best seller and meet and exceed their business and personal goals. The more time you are able to spend one on one, the better you will be to them and for them.
Allow time to answer their questions. Be transparent.
2. Preparation (Calendar, The Day, Your Role)
Calendar: Announce the days you are available and allow the sellers to select their ride-with days. Approach these ride with days as you would an important customer meeting; be on time, be prepared, and don’t cancel. Your sellers are your customers.
The Day: Plan to meet for coffee to review the day’s plan and each customer. Know the objective and game plan for the conversation in advance. This keeps you from taking over and wondering what the sales person is doing or where they’re going in the conversation.
What’s the objective of the call? How do they plan to accomplish that? What will success of that call look like? What can you do to help?
Your Role: You are another set of eyes and ears, you are not there to sell. Discuss and decide if you will talk and how to be introduced. As another set of eyes and ears, you have the ability to ask a question if the conversation is getting diverted – if you have permission with the seller.
3. Debrief Meaningfully
For the debrief afterwards – please resist giving your feedback first. Hold your tongue and words. You will most likely find more gaps and things that could have been done differently. It’s important that you hold your thoughts and words or you risk the chance of demoralizing the seller and judge instead of coach.
You will find several gaps, reflect on the one that is the most important to close. People can only work on improving one thing at a time and generally when you coach to one action/skill the others improve.
Ask the seller what they think went well and the areas for improvement. After they comment then add your thoughts. Beware – they might say I want to hear what you have to say first. Do not get caught into that trap. Insist they speak first.
- Review whether the planned objectives were met and whether what they planned to accomplish was.
- What was done well?
- What could have been improved, done differently?
- Provide feedback on one action/or skill.
At the end of the day follow a similar process. Debrief and recap the day, next steps, deadlines, and next field ride with.
As you are contemplating ride-withs, I can hear the groans. Yes you are busy. Yes you have more things on your to do list than can possibly be accomplished in a day. Meetings, reports, fires to put out, strategic planning. As important as that all is – your ultimate job is to meet your sales quota consistently – and you have to do that through other people. Whether you have a team of 2, 52 or 152 – they are the guarantee- for you to keep your job.
So put the groaning aside and get your calendar open and schedule your meeting to introduce ride-withs so your team meets and exceeds sales quotas consistently. This is how you increase sales – it is proven!
There are 3 actions sales managers can take to guarantee their sellers will meet sales quotas consistently. (1) Field Ride Alongs (2) One-on-One Coaching and (3) Sales meetings that build skills. Alice is unable to do your field ride alongs or one-on-one coaching (although she really could, yet that’s more important for the manager to do). What Alice can do for you to guarantee you’re meeting sales quotas is provide you with 33 high-impact, results-producing 30 Minute Sales Meetings – complete with leader outlines and worksheets or 21 Instant Sales Accelerator Strategies for 5-15 minute sales huddles.