In this post I want to offer some suggestions, for in-the-field reps, on how to manage the beast (remember Pavlov’s dogs) – our conditioned reflex – in all of us.
First – the dilemma. I was a manufacturers’ representative for 25 years and as such know when you’re in sales it is difficult not to automatically respond to a ringing or vibrating phone. It could be a customer, prospect, end user, designer, or contractor looking for information on one of your products. Who doesn’t want to be known for responding quickly to one of these opportunities? The tricky part is managing the desire to respond quickly with the ability to be efficient and productive throughout the day.
Now that we all agree managing this conditioned reflex can create a challenge, let’s look at some suggestions that may help in the field reps to be efficient and productive, as well as responsive to customer’s, prospect’s, end user’s… needs.
Second - the dilemma solutions:
1. Use common sense and proper etiquette
- Before any activity (sales call, demo, lunch, training session, presentation), change your phone’s setting to vibrate.
- During the activity, do NOT even glance at your mobile device if it rings or vibrates. What kind of message are you sending (no pun intended) if your attention wanders from your current discussion, negotiation, or demo to your phone? Do you think your customer feels important when you look at your phone?
- During the activity, if you are using a mobile device for a presentation, turn off pop up notifications.
- If you are going to use your mobile device to take notes during the activity, make sure you explain this to whomever you are with so they understand what you are doing.
- If you are expecting an emergency call or message, let the people you are with know this and if you receive the call or message, apologize, excuse yourself and leave the room or immediate area before you answer the call or message.
- Schedule 15 minutes “open” time between activities for responding to calls and activities.
- Schedule a 30 minute break in the middle of your day during which time you can respond to calls and messages.
- After an activity, listen to voice messages and read e-mail and text messages. If you have the time (we all know sales activities can run longer than expected), spend your 15 minutes responding.
- If you do not have time after an activity, and you are rushing to another activity, please do NOT text or reply to e-mails unless you are not the driver (seems obvious, but…).
- Set spam filters so you don’t have to read junk mail
- Create folders for quick management of e-mail (keep priority e-mails in Inbox and move all other messages to other folders for response at a later time)
- Use reminders available in e-mail, calendar, tasks, journals, and file share for maximum efficiency
- Create notes for later entry into your CRM system
- Use a transcription service to enter your notes into your CRM system
I think we can all agree technology tools are an essential part of our daily life and we all have to find ways to utilize the amazing technology available to us today without becoming a slave to the technology itself.