If it feels like most of your life is spent driving from one client to the next to then find yourself taxiing your kids around at night, you are not alone. According to a September 2016 AAA survey, American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year.
For today’s field sales reps or outside sales teams this number is exponentially higher. The very core of our job is to travel from one office to the next with speed, efficiency and sufficient preparation to conduct a successful face to face visit with our clients and leads. However, the distance between locations, unexpected roadworks, the shear volume of cars on the road and any little hiccup that could occur in between make this one of the biggest challenges that field sales reps face today.
With all this energy dedicated towards arriving on time, it’s no wonder we have little left for visit preparation and becoming reacquainted with our customers. Also, the competition out there is huge. You can no longer just show up to a meeting with a vague idea of who your customer is and what they’re looking for, field sales reps need to possess the intellectual capital and intimate knowledge of their customer to give them that competitive edge.
Now if you’re like me, time stuck inside the car brings about a whole new level of stress. This is where you quietly reflect on the hundreds of tasks that you need to do for the client you just left, the client you are about to see, the weekly reports and KPI’s, drawing up that quote a new client asked for not to mention school projects, homework and soccer practice that all that needs to be done today. It is almost a daily experience for me to be constantly glaring at the clock wishing the traffic to move faster so I can arrive at my destination on time.
So often I’m forced to trade in my mom hat for that of a chauffer; shuttling the kids to and from school, soccer practice and their friends’ houses. I am constantly calling ahead to apologize for being late which just further adds to my stress level and their friends, coaches and teachers are still left waiting (yet again). Long gone are the days of listening to music and decompressing in the car.
With this ever-present pressure of arriving late and circling the long list of items that need to be accomplished, the car has become my own personal mobile purgatory. When you are a field sales rep this stress is carried throughout the entire day, rushing from one meeting to the next. Dependent upon the traffic gods to clear a path so you can arrive on time. After you battle your way to meet your customer in a timely fashion you in part feel like you have accomplished something great. However, when did you prepare for the meeting? When was the last time that you met with the client? What is the name of the client again?
Improving time management will help answer all these questions. But again, how do we do that?
Well what if we could turn that “mobile purgatory” into a mobile personal assistant? So while you were driving, having someone sat in the passenger seat taking care of your admin, debriefing your upcoming visit and essentially increasing the likelihood you close that deal.
While not every company can afford to assign a PA to their field sales reps, there is another other option.
Personal sales assistant apps, such as ForceManager Cognitive are kind of the your digital, virtual PAs, using AI technology to retrieve the copious amounts of information stored in your mobile CRM. Using voice-activated technology field sales reps can talk to the device, asking it pull up info previous meetings, email communications and news all pertinent to your upcoming sales visit.
It works a little like this:
As you can see, you’re essentially using that previously “dead time” to get all that necessary admin stuff done (like updating the CRM on the outcome of the visit) as well as arriving to a visit confident in your preparation. Remember the 7 Ps of preparation? If you’ve seen Pulp Fiction then you’ll like this one.
Anyway, you are utilizing your time in a proficient and productive way to not only better your job as a sales representative but to keep yourself organized and on top of the day to day demands of your career and your life. In the words of Jim Rohn “either you run the day, or the day runs you”.