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Making a good impression with the boss.
How many days did you spend in the field with your manager in 1998? Five? Ten? Let's face it: Sales managers have to do more now than ever, and spending time in the field with sales reps is difficult. However, time spent with your manager is important to your future success as a salesperson and within your company.
This article offers some suggestions on how you can shine when you work in the field with your manager.
• Review your last field visit report. What areas did you discuss the last time your manager rode with you? How have you improved these areas? Will you have an opportunity to demonstrate your improvement and your responsiveness to management coaching? Do your sales figures, call activity or customer response indicate any improvement?
If so, be sure to bring documentation to share with your manager. If not, decide in which areas you are having trouble and inform your manager that you need help. Let them know ahead of time so they can bring any appropriate resources with them.
• Understand management's objectives. Ask your manager what he or she would like to see on their field visit with you when they call you to schedule a dateto work together. Review all recent memos, voice mails and e-mails from your manager. Are you following through on their suggestions? Being a successful sales representative is not tricky, it's just about following through with company initiatives, management direction, customer requests and marketing resources.
•Â Begin the day on a positive note. Sales reps often do not take into consideration that their manager may not be familiar with a reps' territory. Fax or e-mail your manager directions to your meeting place.
•Â Be on time! Many times, representatives live in the area where they are working. However, in most situations, their manager does not. Be considerate of his or her time, and be waiting and ready to go. Use the time to review your call itinerary and call objectives while you wait.
•Â Demonstrate your preparation. Hand your manager a folder of information on the day's call activities. Do you have written sales call objectives? Do you know the payer mix in each office? Do you have profile information on these accounts? Are retail or hospital calls appropriate? If so, indicate this information in the folder.
Are you following corporate initiatives by contacting top-rated doctors? Utilize your selling skills with your manager. Anticipate their questions before they ask, and demonstrate your own initiative in running your territory as your business.
Update your manager on current market and sales trends. Consider a brief PowerPoint presentation. Include:
•Â An executive summary of territory business.
•Â Examples of creative solutions to problem-solving.
•Â DDD and/or exponent data on current sales.
•Â Your call activity report vs. that of your division.
•Â Examples of "best practices" you have been establishing in your territory.
•Â Team contributions you have made or received, such as peer accolades.
•Â Success stories with customers since your manager's last field visit.
•Â Examples of your progress in key development areas for your professional growth.
•Â Questions you have for your manager.
•Â Choose challenging customers. All managers know about "milk runs," those field days for which reps have all their good customers set up ahead of time for an easy day. There is nothing wrong with having appointments set up where appropriate, but keep with the call strategies and the high-targeted doctors. Calling only on easy doctors isn't reality and you manager knows it.
•Â Demonstrate confidence. Sell your way past difficult office staff to see top-rated physicians. A well-handled discussion or presentation on your products to a top customer is much more impressive to your district manager than an easy talk with a low-potential, friendly M.D.
•Â Listen, and incorporate input. When you finally get your manager all to yourself for a day, take advantage of it! Take notes, listen to new ideas, hear and absorb all the things for which your manager is praising you and, most importantly, incorporate these ideas into your work.
•Â Stop for lunch. Make sure you schedule lunch. Lunch is a great time to discuss the morning's calls, give your manager a briefing for the afternoon and bring up your blood sugar levels! Working through lunch doesn't impress your manager. It just makes him or her hungry.
•Â Finish the day on a positive note. Do not wait until 5:00 p.m. to tell your manager about a huge problem you have been having with a customer or another rep. Your manager has a family and personal life to go home to. Be considerate of his or her personal time, and remember he or she may still be an hour or two away from home.
•Â Thank your manager. Give him or her brief feedback on the things he or she did that made the day especially valuable to developing your sales skills. Consider sending a thank-you note of appreciation for his or her time and input.
After your manager is gone, work on maintaining the quality of your day in the field with your manager every day of the week that you are in the field alone. After all, you may be the manager sooner than you think! PR