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Along for the Ride

Losing touch with your reps? Regular ride-alongs can help keep the connection alive.

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Are you attempting to pilot a sales squad while shackled to yourdesk? While you may be cranking out an awe-worthy pile ofpaperwork, succumbing to the never-ending administrativerequirements of running a sales team may render you a moribundmanager. To truly gauge the health and competence of your salesteam, you need to ramp up for habitual field visits with your reps.Why must you relinquish your comfy Aeron roost? Because"behavior can't be changed in a classroom or salesmeeting," explains Karen Lund, owner of The LundGroup, a productivity and profitability consulting firm in St.Paul, Minnesota. Here's how to get your mentorship motorrunning:

  • Know what you want to learn on thecall. Make the most of your time by deciding what youwant to know before you jump into the passenger seat. ToddMiller is the founder of SalesHeads.com, an Oklahoma City Internet jobboard for sales professionals nationwide. Miller suggestsdetermining five to seven key areas of accountability, which mayinclude the rep's presentation skills, the customer'soverall satisfaction level, and how happy the client is with thecontent and timing of the rep's visits.
  • What's the frequency?The timing of field visits will vary, but shoot for a regularschedule. Newer reps may require your tutelage more often (perhapsmonthly), while seasoned reps can go longer stretches betweencheck-ins (perhaps quarterly). Miller encourages sales managers toaccompany newer reps at least once a month for the first threemonths, while cautioning that timing will require tweaking to allow"breathing room for the rep and planning time for themanager."

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