Undoubtedly, there are very few activities as impactful for both sales managers and representatives as working together in the “field.” Ride-alongs, coaching visits, field rides are just a few of the names that represent this valuable time together.
Optimally, the sales manager spends one or two days in the representative’s territory quarterly. Many activities take place during this one to two days together. Activities where the manager evaluates certain skill sets of the sales position, such as selling skills, territory management, acumen (business, clinical, etc.).
However, simultaneously, the manager should be accountable for optimizing this time together from the perspective of their responsibility in their role. A successful ride-along can be equally beneficial for a manager as for a representative. Also, for the company that they work for.
If a manager is on top of their game, time is not just spent picking up on surface-level indicators such as just a representative’s performance but ways of developing business, competitive captures, strategic alliances, and business development.
Also, if the manager wants to set the bar of the team’s culture, they lead by example—everything from the pace, work ethic, and quality of the work done.
There is no substitute for a manager showing their dedication to their position and team members than being in the trenches with them. Doing consistent field ride-alongs and showing value is an impactful way to do this.
Below are three easy tips for a successful ride-along:
Be engaged– when humans are engaged, the best of ourselves is given at that moment. Why? Optimal attention, focus, and energy are extended. In the case of the ride-along, this engagement between manager and representative is invaluable. That means not responding to emails for the duration while the representative is driving, mentally thinking about all the “to do” items waiting, the flight home, etc. A racing mind is racing towards nowhere.
Provide Feedback-Taking the time to do field coaching reports is invaluable. A coaching report does not need to be War and Peace. It just needs to have facts, observations of both positives of what took place during the time together, and a couple of suggestions for improvement. Whenever a field ride is coming to an end, a good best practice is to ask, “what are a couple of areas that you feel you need or want to work on?” Usually, self-awareness is present, and what representative states are usually always lined up with what the manager observed. Why is this good? The representative will be more willing to work on what they self-actualized vs. the manager.
Show value-Now this may seem simple, but it is impactful. Take care of issues that come up then and there during this time together. Anything customer or corporate-related, call or email while present. G.S.D.-Get Stuff Done. Take care of business. Also, asking for an agenda 24-48 hours before a ride-along can help ensure a more productive two days together.
Why an agenda? For three reasons:
1. Research: This gives the manager time to research the customers, accounts, and the reason for the visit. Showing value means contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way.
2. Vendor Credentialing: It is not 1998, 2008, or even 2018; the days of just walking into a hospital are OVER! In the agenda are the accounts that will be visited; a manager can’t provide much value from the lobby of a hospital.
3. Blend In: Pack appropriately by looking at the agenda and asking the representative what attire should be worn. Scrubs, business casual, suit? It will go a long way to blend into the accounts as each geography is very different.
The most memorable moments of my career have been in the passenger seat of the representative’s car. A good manager checks the box and “gets out there” in the field consistently. A great manager “gets out there” in the field consistently, provides value by giving feedback via detailed coaching reports, ongoing coaching cares about their team’s development and ultimately grows with their team members along the way.
To download a free field coaching report, please visit https://skyscraper-management.com/thank-you-77/.