How do you develop a sales force

This is how you turn your office and field service into a sales team

The world is cooperation, it is team spirit, it is the harmonization of opposing principles. This attitude is also gaining ground in sales and calls for practical solutions: How can internal and external sales force two areas that are only strong when they work together?

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Added value through teamwork

In many companies, there is still no real connection between back office and field service. Departmental egoisms dominate and prevent synergy effects that could arise if the two areas cooperated as a team. Because a team achieves more than the sum of the individual competencies of its members suggests.

All too often, however, the internal sales force leads a pansy existence, they are seen primarily as the vicarious agent of the field service: The internal service makes the appointments, the field service closes - and receives the hymns of praise. But there are counterexamples that encourage courage: the back office takes on a key role in proactive sales - the two areas form a tandem with equal tasks, rights and obligations. In order for this to succeed, management and executives must create the framework conditions.

With successful partnerships to delight customers

This includes communicating the “big, common whole” and the overriding goal, as well as igniting a team spirit that makes it clear to everyone involved: “Only together can we serve and be useful to those who are close to our hearts - the customer!”

Successful partnerships that prove that the joint and coordinated approach only knows winners are decisive: the areas, the people involved, the sales department, the company - and the customers.

The principle of a successful partnership is: the back office will go from being a mere order processor to being a proactive customer manager.

The main task of the back office staff is no longer to coordinate the appointments of the field service stars. Rather, they make a strategic contribution to active sales, new customer acquisition and cross- and up-selling. They actively contribute to sales by realizing additional sales with existing customers, obtaining recommendation addresses and generating recommendations.

The figure shows which steps are necessary so that the back office can demonstrably increase the effectiveness of sales.


The new efficiency pyramid for internal sales

The goal: one customer, one team!

The other side of the coin: the field service has to give up competencies, share fame, recognize the back office as an equal partner and give up its “we-are-the-only-pillars-of-success” mentality. And so many back office workers resist the new distribution of tasks: It was so easy to dedicate yourself to clerical work instead of being responsible for sales and turnover.

At this point, management and executives are once again in demand. It has proven itself to bring the employees from the back office and the field service together in concrete hybrid projects:

  • "One customer, one ID-Face": The back office employee looks after customers independently in such a way that the tandem colleague from the field service is completely relieved. This approach is suitable for C customers.
  • "One customer, two faces": The back office employee takes care of customers in consultation with the field service - this is particularly the case with B customers - in such a way that the customer can be helped quickly and easily. Both hybrid colleagues use their respective strengths.
  • "One customer, one AD-Face": The inside service colleague works in the background, the field service employee acts as a coordinating contact person and relationship manager, especially for A-customers.
  • “One customer, one team”: This is often the ultimate solution - all three options are tailored to suit the customer's organization.

Flexibility and agile structures as prerequisites

The hybrid solutions require a high degree of flexibility from everyone involved and also agile structures in the company and sales department in order to adapt to the respective customer requirements. Executives and sales managers act as coordinators, motivators and management coaches who develop the affected employees from the office and field service into participants who recognize the tandem solution as an opportunity for their own further development. The shared experiences of success that arise when even difficult customers are won, prospects can be developed into regular customers and existing customers can be excited, drive the team spirit development process forward quickly.

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Prepare the "fusion" wisely

On the way to a new understanding of roles, some practical challenges have to be overcome, such as the question of commission: It is right if there are variable performance and success-oriented remuneration components for the office staff. Team bonuses are also an option.

In addition, management and executives must not expect that the departments will not grow together "overnight". It is expedient if the roles as well as the areas of responsibility, competencies and competencies are jointly defined.

This can be compared to a company merger in which different cultures collide. By observing and taking part in the meetings of the other department, it is easier for those involved to gradually familiarize themselves with the tasks and to deepen the human contact with their colleagues.

Specifically: While the sales representative looks over the shoulder of the internal sales representative for half a day, the internal sales representative accompanies a colleague to the customer on site. Mutual understanding grows, people trust each other, everyone gets a feel for the tasks, challenges and needs of the "other side".

Finally, when putting together the tandem teams, the sales manager makes sure to bring colleagues together who fit together and complement each other.

Conclusion of the expert The new distribution of roles amounts to a change of culture. This is why the process should be initiated as a change project in which the skills of managers and employees are built up and expanded with the help of appropriate qualification and further training measures.

the authors

Elmar Lesch and Ralf Koschinski live the team spirit also as a trainer: You are the owner of the method institute for effective potential development - UMSATZMEISTER - which received the European training award in gold in 2015/2016 for the profitable value creation of the back office. As a team, the experts for increasing sales and earnings effectively move people to change and implement.