Some of the most successful CPG field sales and retail execution teams in the U.S. leverage tools and best practices as the foundation for their success.  For many sales leaders the boots on the ground team is a key factor in growing distribution and creating the identity and momentum of the organization. 

Whether you are just now considering hiring for a field team, or you already have one in place, here are 5 best practices that the most effective field teams follow to drive performance:

  1. Create a Leaderboard
    Measuring performance and creating competition seems almost like a no brainer.  But for a variety of reasons, many teams fall short in this area.  The most successful teams not only have leaderboards and effective ways to measure their field teams output, but they share this visibility across the entire organization and make it a source of pride and reward.  Being in the streets is a grind and can sometimes feel like a thankless job that requires a ton of hard work.  If leaderboards are implemented correctly they provide the hardest workers immediate gratification and recognition for their accomplishments
  2. Eliminate Overhead
    Some teams spend up to two hours per day on administrative tasks  mostly because of inefficient data collection, reporting, team meetings, or operational tasks such as time or mileage tracking. Not only does this reduce overall visits per day and total selling time, it also creates a cultural issue with overhead becoming an area where underachievers hide and overachievers are discouraged. Fortunately, many standard operational tasks have new approaches that can be fully automated. When implemented we have seen some companies get a near immediate 20% performance uplift, as well as an improvement in overall job satisfaction resulting in additional improvement.
  3. Simplify Your Measurements
    Through technology such as image recognition and retail analytics  capabilities, an overwhelming amount of data related to in-store and team performance can be obtained.  Too often the burden of this data collection or data interpretation falls down the line to store level reps. While having more actionable data and trends is useful for management, it is important to keep the game simple for the reps and let them focus on one or two metrics that matter the most. Keeping a flexible and adaptable system in place that allows the focus and priorities to shift but also keeps it simple for the street reps is an essential part of a good overall management system
  4. Provide Real-time Communication from Management
    There is a fine line between micromanagement and effective support and collaboration with your team.  The highest performing teams have very active sales managers who provide  continuous feedback and share visibility of daily wins across the entire organization.  The secret is to focus on the wins and successes, and not what is going wrong.  For example, rather than an ongoing loop of questioning regarding why certain stores are having issues, reps can share photos reflecting in-store performance and management can provide continuous positive feedback on the stores that are “perfect.”   The bar of high success will naturally be created by the recognition and reinforcement of the top performing reps and store wins, without having to call out all the gaps in execution.
  5. Incentivize the Outcomes You Want
    Again, this almost seems like a no brainer, but for many teams the rep reward and  incentive structures can be improved.  Either companies are not offering many incentives, or the incentives are generic and applied at the team level or in a way that makes it easy for the reps to work the system. An effective incentive program will not only reward the exact outcomes you are seeking (e.g. new distribution, perfect store conditions, new displays, etc), it will also provide stretch goals and reward the considerable difference between your top performing reps and bottom.

How does your team stack up against these benchmarks?  Do you have any other tips that you have used to create success in your field team?   

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Request a benchmark that reflects how you are doing in comparison to your competitors , including case study examples of how some of the US leading brands have implemented these practices