Joint field work is where you and your representative make sales calls together. The sales representatives benefit and learn from your knowledge and experience, yet they are still are not working without a net, so to speak.
The problem most sales managers have when doing joint field work is they end up taking over the call completely. Some even forget the sales person is in the room! This does nothing to train or develop the sales representative. The real purpose of doing joint field work today is so your sales representative won’t need you on sales calls in the future.
More specifically, developing a skill in a sales representative through joint field work is a five step process:
1. Skill Identification – You first must identify the skill that you need to develop in your sales representative. Examples include telephone prospecting, fact finding, live demonstrations etc.
2. Training Stage – You need to teach the skill, its purpose, and how to perform it properly. This may require multiple training sessions to complete.
3. Sales Rep Observation Stage- This is where the sales representative watches you perform the skill with customers in the field. Essentially, you are showing them how to do it. Again this may require more than one session to complete.
4. Manager Observation Stage – Once they have seen the skill performed often enough, it’s time for them to try it for themselves. In this stage, the sales representative starts to practice the skill while you observe. For example, you may listen while they do prospecting calls on the phone, or join them on a call when they present a proposal to a customer. At this stage, you must provide feedback by reinforcing the right behavior and correcting the wrong behavior. After several joint calls, this feedback will allow the sales representative to hone their skill until they become independent.
5. Coaching Stage – Once you have observed the sales representative’s ability to perform the skill properly, you must motivate and coach them to use it repeatedly. Development is not complete until proper use of the skill is an internalized habit that is performed unconsciously. Again, this stage occurs over several calls and sometimes over an extended period of time. In fact, some managers say the coaching stage never really ends!
Remember, the goal is to push the baby bird out of the nest, so to speak. However, he will never be able to take his first solo flight if he is only allowed to fly on your back.