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Having worked with sales and field service teams for over two decades, the challenges they . In this article, I want to highlight common problems sales teams face and what you can do to solve them. As a sales leader, if you hear these complaints, it is essential to pay attention, as ignoring them can negatively impact the team’s performance. The solutions I’m recommending are based on my experience working with some large field sales and field service teams in Australia.
Things Taking Too Much Time
Things taking too much to get done is a common complaint I hear from field sales teams. Whether getting the sales support team to follow up on product availability, getting order status from order management team or getting more information on an upcoming promotion from marketing, the things may take time.
In one example, at a wine company, I learned that a request to share a wine-tasting note with a customer took up to 2 weeks due to the lengthy escalation process through sales support to brand teams. This process was later optimized and automated, allowing the sales team to share tasting notes instantly with their customers with the help of a mobile field service solution. The processes will be analyzed and optimized to remove bottlenecks and friction. Once optimized, automating the process will further reduce the time required to deliver the outcome.
The CRM is Not Working
At some stage, most organizations with CRMs heard this complaint from their sales teams. If you still need to get a CRM, you can skip pass this. But if you have a sales team and customers, you definitely need a CRM.
When they complain about CRM, it can be for many reasons. Lack of functionality, data issues, a slow system, training issues, etc.. As a sales leader you must ensure that these issues are addressed immediately. As a core business system, the CRM must be well maintained technically and operationally.
When the team complains, most companies believe they have the wrong CRM. While this may be valid in some cases, 90% of the time, replacing the CRM wouldn’t solve the issue. The three times I came across this problem, we solved it through the multi-step process. Start with deep dive sessions with the sales team, IT team, and sales support staff, followed by a thorough review of the CRM itself. This would allow you to understand the gaps, expectations, and the real reason for the complaints.
Then create an action plan with short-term and long-term goals to address the identified issues. This will include a series of action items outlining the changes required to optimize the CRM, changes to the sales process, new processes required, training needs, etc.
Too Much Manual Data Entry and Admin Work
This is one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen when talking to salespeople. While spending time doing data entry and other admin work isn’t ideal, this is one of those necessary evils that has to be done as a salesperson. Entering meeting notes, filling up order forms, responding to emails, researching prospects, etc., can take a substantial amount of time from a salesperson’s day. As a business, we want the sales team to spend more time selling than admin work or data entry.
While using sales support teams (sales ops) for admin and data entry is the most common practice, automation is the best solution. By identifying each admin task, companies can automate them individually to help sales teams save time. Taking notes in the field is one admin task almost all salespeople have to do. But with the dictation apps on mobiles, you can let the app add notes to your CRM without typing them in. With the help of AI, sales teams have access to many productivity improvement tools to help them sell more time selling than admin work.
No Access to Accurate Sales Performance Data
Access to accurate reports is another request we frequently hear from sales teams. Imagine your sales team having access to personalized sales performance dashboards with visibility into key metrics and the ability to view customer performance to identify trends. This will provide them with the information need to have the right conversations with customers to generate more sales. Also, giving access to their sales performance can be an excellent motivator for the team. However, Not having access to sales performance data can impact the sales team, the leadership, and the organization as a whole.
The recommendation is to select key sales roles within the business and create dashboards and reports to show key sales metrics. Expect your sales teams to refrain from extracting data from data cubes and playing with pivot tables in Excel. Give them simple, easy-to-use dashboards and pre-built reports to get the information they need to sell more. Pay attention to the data sources as well. With most CRMs delivering reporting and dashboard functionalities, I recommend using that.
Lack of Collaboration Within the Sales Team
For field sales teams, collaborating with their peers can be a challenge. With them spending most of the time working alone in the field, it is important to have the capability to collaborate and share notes, share wins, field executions, etc., with their teams. With tools such as Salesforce chatter, Microsoft teams providing capabilities to promote collaboration, sales leaders must ensure that the introduction of these solutions are planned to deliver the intended value.
With the right execution plan I have seen substantial improvement in collaboration among the field sales teams at several organizations I’ve worked. While being able to ask a question or send a message to your sales colleagues is always positive, we noticed a substantial increase in sharing in-store executions and other success stories within the team and across the extended organization.
Inconsistent Sales Reporting
Another problem faced by organizations is the siloed reporting within different functions of the business. Even though the data is extracted and shown through a single reporting platform, with different users using their own filters and parameters, the numbers can significantly change from one to another in the reports.
This is one of the issues that continuously arose in one organization where I worked. The different functions of the business had their own reports for same metrics. The solution was introducing global dashboards for agreed metrics and getting teams to agree on the data source for selected metrics.
No Access to Sales Support Materials in the Field
With field sales teams spending the majority of their time in the field, another complaint we hear is the need for more access to their sales support and marketing materials. In one example, we’ve introduced a mobile-friendly solution to deliver sales support material, sales briefs, marketing materials, tasting notes, etc. to field sales team with the ability to share with their customers. While it helped the sales team close more deals, it also helped them deliver a great customer experience to their customers through the ability to share sales and marketing materials with them.
No Access to Customer Orders or Other Interactions
While having 360-degree view of a customer is great, the business must ensure that atleast the sales team has access key customer interactions information. Salesperson being the customer’s primary company representative, having complete conversations with the customer can be challenging without access to order statuses, product statuses, or inquiries. Being able to respond to customer inquiries with accurate information can be a contributing factor to improving the relationship with the customer.
While giving 360 view of the customer to your sales team can be a big undertaking, at a minimum, the sales team must have access to the basic information related to customer interactions. It can be anything from order statuses, purchase orders, product launches, unpaid invoices, other inquiries, etc. In one example, we gave the sales team access to the customer order portal, which gave the sales team real-time access to customer orders and statuses.
Dasun Premadasa is the Founder and CEO of DASCX, the premiere B2B CX consulting firm for manufacturers in Australia. With over two decades of experience including four large CX and digital transformation programs at 4 different manufacturing and automotive firms in Australia, he's one of the best business technology experts for B2B customer experience.