Outside Sales Management

Outside Sales Management

The outside sales force is the most expensive instrument in your sales organisation. It therefore needs perfect management to maximally utilise its active selling time. Read here about how to arrange the management of your outside sales organisation efficiently.

A poorly managed outside sales force costs the company a lot of money and leaves customers frustrated.

Good outside sales management is therefore decisive to get the most out of your outside sales organisation. This is why the outside sales management has to try to motivate the outside sales force team to closely pursue the defined targets. This is accomplished through a number of requirements, plans and the measuring of the right key indicators.



Why is outside sales management important?

Do you always have an overview of which employee is taking care of which customers? Or if the right customers with the highest potential are getting visits? Do you have reliable information about how much in percent you could raise your employees’ productivity?

Your outside sales employees are always somewhere on the road with customers. This poses challenges in terms of your team’s flexibility and cooperation in the team, and with other areas of sales. Therefore, a permanent dialogue between the sales management and the sales team is important to change behaviour, measure success, and achieve a higher sales performance. Costs can be reduced with the gained transparency, motivation be raised and sales increased.

Challenges of outside sales management

The control of the expensive resource outside sales force is full of hazards and demands from the manager, besides sales know-how, also leadership experience and a talent in customer meetings. In this diverse area of responsibility, there are several setting screws that you can turn to take influence on the performance of your outside sales organisation in the daily sales routine.

Customary outside sales organisations are arranged geographically, i.e. an outside sales representative works in a postal code area assigned to him or her. Depending on the size of the organisation, you additionally have 2-4 regional managers to limit leadership to at most 8-12 employees.

It is better to divide the regions by the number of customers and the customer potentials; although this also ends up in postal code areas, it is more effective, however, in terms of the sales approach.

Sales indicators for the outside sales force

To measure the productivity of the outside sales organisation, sales indicators are consulted. The selection of the right KPI is one of the most important tasks of a good sales director. With KPI, information can be gained systematically, early warning signals be recognised, customers be evaluated better and sales processes be optimised.

Which key performance indicators are important is a result of the goals. The key performance indicators can relate to the performance of the outside sales force overall, the employees, and the value of acquired and managed customers.


Important sales indicators for the outside sales force management:

  • Customer attribution/Customer segmentation
  • Customer value
  • Driving route optimisation
  • Number of customers and management key
  • Target agreement per sales rep region
  • Conversion rates for quotations
  • Visiting frequency for customer groups
  • Quality of customer appointments
  • Philosophy of the CRM database entries
  • Access to the internal system for customer qualification
  • Customer satisfaction indices


Customer attribution and segmentation

The first sales indicators that you should consult for the optimisation of your outside sales force management are customer attribution, analysis of sales potentials, and the number of customers per region. It is extremely important here to adjust the number of customers optimally to the capacity of the outside sales representative.

A careful analysis of the purchasing customer based on the CRM datasets and the knowledge of the outside sales representative are at the forefront for clustering the active customers by their potential. The analysis delivers company-wide consistent requirements for defining the frequency of visits to a customer.

For example, a customer with fully utilised potential is managed less intensely than customers with a high sales potential. The analysis also tells clearly which regions require realignment or which ones need to be managed jointly by inside sales and outside sales in a tandem sales model.

Customer relationship management systems

Even though most enterprises have worked with a CRM for many years, many complain about great deficiencies in the data quality. Most of the frustration is caused by poor operability of the system, resulting in high effort for data maintenance. The result: consistent entering and updating of the data is neglected.

In our experience, the causes are lacking “marketing” of the system within the outside sales organisation. It applies here: the benefits and advantages of the CRM system in customer management must always be communicated clearly time and again.

Rarely, reports are written about a comparison of customer visits to sales development or the number of quotations for non-buying customers and distributed in the outside sales representatives’ areas. The logical consequence: If the sales rep cannot see an added value for him or herself, the quality of entries in the CRM will deteriorate.

How can you do better?

Customer appointments, road trips with the sales representative, sales meetings, releases and customer escalations steal a lot of time. Where is room for matters relating to tactics and strategy?

In this regard, we recommend our customers, independent of the size of their company, to appoint an employee, who is highly skilled in sales, as data analyst. He or she will compile the central information from the CRM about customer potentials. And deliver the basis for the further development of your outside sales organisation.

Expert advice: get external advice. SUXXEED has the experience from countless projects conducted operatively for inside sales and outside sales organisations.

Analysis of the success of the outside sales management

Lastly, the time expended and the costs incurred for the outside sales force must be weighed against the success accomplished by the outside sales force.

Important factor of success for the optimisation of your outside sales organisation:

  • Divide your customers by their development potential, for example by customer value or by means of an ABC analysis, and accordingly define the use of resources in terms of time and cost.
  • Customers are visited at regular intervals. Determine the frequency and duration according to the customer value.
  • Check the customer clusters regularly and readjust their processing.
  • Less profitable customers should be handled through alternative channels: by telephone, email, post or the sales promoting office staff. Routine orders of the customer can also be processed without requiring a visit to the customer.
  • Customer visits should be scheduled by phone and be oriented on the customer’s ordering intervals.
  • There should be enough time to acquire new customers – also if the business with existing customers is going well
  • The customer’s buying centre should be known. If talks with a contact are unsuccessful, another contact should be sought out.
  • Other departments of an existing customer can also be attractive in terms of sales.
  • Customers making the most noise or reaching out most frequently do not automatically have to be visited more frequently.
  • The travel route should be prepared and optimised on time. It applies here: A further visit per day can always fit in!
  • Plan your primary customers first.
  • Schedule customer meetings that will most likely be successful in the beginning of the day.
  • The cooperation between outside sales force and office staff should be perfected.

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