We have clients call us regularly who complain that they can’t tell if their rep is productive or not. Obviously new referrals would indicate productivity but what do you do in the meantime, before referrals begin to come in, to determine your reps effectiveness? After all, you could waste six months of income and benefits on someone who’s not really cut out for this job.
As a seasoned sales manager I regularly hired, trained, and managed new remote personnel so I became accustomed to looking for certain “guide posts” in assessing a new reps activity and effectiveness in the early days of employment. Unlike home office personnel that you see and interact with every day, a remote employee can be difficult to assess without knowing what to look for.
I won’t get into the recruiting and hiring process as that’s a topic for another day. I will however state that “motivation” is the key factor when hiring remote personnel. You can’t be there with them every day so you are dependent on their personal motivation to get them out the door and producing for you. In looking for motivated people I look for “those who come after me”, not those I have to chase and convince to take the job. Look for those who call you, write you, email, stop by…In short, look for folks who need the money or any other type of reward that excites them. Folks who don’t really need your money, or reward, can be very difficult to manage!
Once your rep is hired and trained, they should go into the field with a plan or strategy of how they will approach the target market. Reps who go out and call on everyone without a plan are simply looking to throw “mud against the wall with hopes that some will stick”. Ask them why they are planning to visit each office before they go out on a weekly basis. In other words, what is their strategy? Do they even have one?
Once your rep is in the field they should be sending you a weekly report which shows: 1) Practice name and location 2) Who they spoke with, including titles 3) A summary of what was discussed 4) Any results or action items as a result of the call.
You should review this report with your rep every week.
The weekly report is your only real communication tool with your rep and it helps you to assess them while demonstrating to them your commitment and involvement in their activities. If they think you’re not involved, they may lose the motivation and drive necessary to “knock down doors” for you!
In reviewing the report be sure to look for verbs and dialogue where they ask the tough questions that uncover opportunity for you. For instance; I asked why they send to practice X….. What do they like about practice Y….. What can we do to earn some of your referrals? Reps who are going through the motions will usually tell you that everyone knows your practice and everything is fine. They will tell you that the client said they will send….without much dialogue leading up to such a proclamation.
Below is actual dialogue from one of our reps reports:
“I asked how we can earn their referral business”
“I asked that they consider sending to us as well”
“I asked her to please help encourage referrals our way”
“We discussed growing referrals beyond Dr. X. How can we earn referrals from the rest of the practice?”
“When I dug for why she said…”
“The staff said that they do send to us. I looked at our referral sheet and saw nothing from them so I pressed for the real reason they do not send”
The truth is you want your rep to be uncovering problems, misconceptions, and concerns about your practice. This is how you “earn” more referrals by fixing these perceived problems. The last thing you want is to hear that everyone knows you and everyone loves you. That means your rep is not digging hard enough to uncover growth opportunities for your practice.
Digging deep and asking the tough questions can take courage. This is why this job is not for the inexperienced or young friendly member of your staff. You need a seasoned rep that is able to stand their ground while uncovering opportunities for you and your practice.
We can help. We’re experts in managing field marketing reps. Give us a call at 610-310-1621.