Field Sales Excellence Requires Attention to Human Facing Activities

Field sales is challenging. There are many moving parts and it can be overwhelming. The key to success in your first year in field sales is an intentional focus on five key areas: Networking, Relationships, Territory Management, Targeting, & Connections.

When I landed my first role as a field sales rep I didn’t know what I was doing. I was overwhelmed and uncertain. But, the one thing I realized early on is that sticking to the “corporate” sales playbook that I was taught in new hire training and repeated constantly by our sales managers was not going to get me to where I wanted to be. I knew that I needed to be and sell differently.

Months later I found myself at the top of the leaderboard and when most of the people on my team struggled to even make quota, I was able to crank out new sales and stay on top. 

My journey from uncertainty to becoming a leader in this arena is a testament to the unique strategies and skills I developed. These skills, which extend beyond the core sales techniques, are adaptable and can guide anyone towards crafting their personal success story in the challenging world of field sales.

Networking: Building Your Professional Net Worth

Networking is more than just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental pillar in the architecture of a successful sales career. Your professional network serves as a reservoir of opportunities, insights, and resources. 

Building this network is an art, requiring persistence, strategy, and the ability to connect authentically with others. It’s about finding your tribe in various business circles and leveraging these connections to forge a path to success.

The journey of networking begins with identifying and immersing yourself in relevant groups and events. This could mean attending Chamber of Commerce meetings, participating in industry-specific forums, or engaging in online platforms like Facebook. The goal is to create meaningful connections, not just collect business cards. It’s about building relationships that are mutually beneficial and finding your footing in the professional community.

For those who already have a foothold in networking groups, the next step is to deepen these connections and expand your horizon. This involves exploring new groups, taking on leadership roles, and being actively involved in the growth of these networks. By doing so, you establish yourself as a committed and influential member of the community, opening doors to more substantial and rewarding opportunities.

Networking Tips:

  • Finding Your Network: Start with local Chamber of Business or Commerce events. These are often full of professionals networking within their niches. Young Professionals organizations are also great, especially for those under 40, offering a more casual environment.
  • Utilizing Social Media: Facebook is a key tool for field salespeople, particularly in the SMB and medium-sized business space. It’s great for finding events and joining groups dedicated to business promotion and vendor connections.
  • Target Specific Groups: Join groups that align with your buyer profiles, like accounting, construction, IT, and marketing groups. Actively go to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
  • Immerse Yourself: Dedicate three months to networking. Attend as many events as possible. This helps you identify where best to focus your efforts.
  • Be Consistent: Building human relationships requires consistency. Your continued presence in key groups will be valued by those who can bring opportunities and leads.
  • Expand Your Horizons: Visit new groups to keep things interesting and potentially find new opportunities.
  • Seek Leadership Roles: Aim for board positions or similar roles in organizations. This demonstrates your commitment and can open doors to more influential networks.

Managing Customer Relationships

The art of managing customer relationships lies in the delicate balance between being a salesperson and a trusted advisor. It’s about understanding the needs and challenges of your customers and providing solutions that genuinely benefit them. This requires empathy, attentiveness, and the ability to build trust over time, transforming customers into long-term partners and advocates for your business.

Creating strong connections with customers involves more than just closing a sale; it’s about nurturing those relationships. Regularly checking in, understanding their ongoing needs, and being a reliable resource for them helps in solidifying these connections. It’s about being present, not just as a salesperson, but as a partner who is invested in their success.

Customer Relationship Tips:

  • Regular Check-ins: Visit your customers regularly, send thoughtful notes, and maintain contact with those who have been successful with your product or service.
  • Leverage Advocates: Satisfied customers can become strong advocates, providing social proof and referrals.
  • Boost Your Confidence: Contact customers who have had positive experiences with you. This can be a morale booster and a reminder of your impact.

Developing a Territory: The Art of Hard Work

Territory development is a fundamental aspect of field sales, requiring an in-depth understanding of the local market, its players, and its unique dynamics. This involves a hands-on approach, where you explore, engage, and immerse yourself in the territory. It’s about becoming the go-to expert in your area, someone who knows the ins and outs of the local business landscape.

To truly know your territory, you must engage with it deeply. This means not just understanding the businesses and their leaders but also grasping the local culture, economic trends, and community dynamics. It’s about being a visible and active presence in your territory, creating a network of contacts and a reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable sales professional.

Territory Development Tips:

  • Research and Engagement: Familiarize yourself with local businesses and stay updated on changes in leadership or ownership.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Use your weekends and free time to learn more about your territory. This knowledge makes your interactions more engaging and less like cold calls.
  • Strategic Prospecting: Regularly explore different areas of your territory to understand its dynamics and potential.

Going Where the Money Is: Target the Right Opportunities

Identifying where the most fruitful opportunities lie is key to success in field sales. This involves understanding which sectors, businesses, and types of customers align best with your offering. It’s about recognizing patterns of success and focusing your efforts where they yield the best results, thereby optimizing your time and resources for maximum impact.

Focusing on the right opportunities means analyzing your past successes and understanding why they worked. It’s about targeting similar businesses and buyers who are likely to have the same needs and respond positively to your approach. This strategic targeting helps in building a strong and profitable client base in your chosen territory.

Targeting Tips:

  • Understand Your Strengths: Recognize which types of businesses and buyers best respond to your selling style and value proposition.
  • Focus on Successes: Use your previous wins as a guide for targeting similar businesses.

Make Everyone Your Friend

Every interaction, no matter how small, is an opportunity to leave a positive impression and potentially open a new door. This approach requires genuine interest in people and an attitude that reflects positivity and openness. 

It’s about breaking the norm of minimal engagement and shining as a personable and approachable individual in every scenario, whether it’s a formal meeting or a casual encounter. Be a shining light. It’s about giving everyone you meet a reason to remember you in a positive way.

Walk into every place of business whether you are on the clock or not with a big honking smile and a positive attitude. The person taking your order at the coffee shop should be your friend, the clerk at the front desk of your doctor is your friend, the dude pumping gas next to you is your friend. Not everyone you meet will reciprocate but how you treat people will come back to you in kind ten fold.

The Power of Positivity

In field sales, your demeanor and approach can significantly impact your success. Adopting a consistently positive and friendly attitude in every interaction helps in building rapport and trust. 

When you practice positivity, you gain confidence and success. People may not remember your name but they will remember your smile. 

You are going to get kicked in the teeth more often than not so don’t make it easy for them! It’s a lot harder to be mean or disrespectful to someone who has only shown kindness and positivity. 

When you build a reputation as someone who is pleasant to do business with, you will attract more opportunities and success.

Positivity and Connection Tips:

  • Be Approachable: Maintain a friendly demeanor in all interactions, whether professional or personal.
  • Remember the Human Touch: People may not always remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel.

The Foundation of Field Sales Success

While these skills and strategies are broad and varied, they collectively form the foundation of a successful career in field sales. Integrating these approaches into your daily sales activities will help you navigate the complexities of field sales, build lasting relationships, and consistently achieve your sales goals. 

What is most important to understand though is that these tips are more than mere tactics, they are pivotal mindsets that when adopted lead to a successful and rewarding career in field sales.

Take your Closing techniques to the next level with our FREE guide: 7 Rules of Sales Negotiation 

About the author

Jeb Blount, Jr.

Jeb Blount, Jr. is a graduate of Berry College with a degree in Political…

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