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Retail Greatness Blog

How Do you Get More Doors From Your Retail Field Reps?

With the recent increase in store closures, competition is heating up for manufacturers and MSOs who support retailers. So you've got to be thinking about how to separate your company from other supply chain vendors who might be looking to carve out a bigger piece of the shrinking pie.How Do you Get More Doors From Your Retail Field Reps?

Here at Every Store Perfect, our very existence is based on helping vendors like you achieve retail service excellence. So we thought it would be important to share some thoughts on how you can get the most from your field reps...and keep you in the game!

Know how they perform

First things first: you have GOT to be able to report your retail field rep's performance – down to the task, down to the minute. Without insight developed on purpose...real-time, measured, and served up ready for analytics insight... into retail execution activity, you'll have a hard time gaining more doors.

Because: how can you gain more doors if you don't understand how many doors you're currently touching? How can you shave time within and between visits if you don't currently understand where every second goes inside and between stores? How can you increase the number of tasks / product touches / or sales-gaining activities per rep/per store  if you don't know how many you're making now? And how can you ensure that all critical stores are touched if you don't direct reps there on purpose and follow up to make sure those visits occured?

And also because:if you can't clearly respond when a store manager calls complaining about rep visits or missed visits, then you become less trustworthy. With detailed, updated data on all your team's activities at your fingertips, you can then respond swiftly and confidently, helping to reassure the manager that your company knows what it's doing.

Use individual strengths to improve individual weaknesses

Not every rep is going to be excellent at every aspect of retail field servicing, so it's important to clearly understand the strengths and weaknesses of every person on your field team.

If one rep is great at compliance, for example, but has few visits each week, and another is able to handle hundreds of store each month, but is weak on compliance, ask each of them to share their approaches on visits and time management. By making your team more collaborative, you should see better team execution rates, which should get you more doors.

Leverage your Retail Execution Software Solution to rate reps' skills and ensure that every visit is skill matched. In the example above, consider scheduling the rep with unlimited energy along with teams having strong compliance focused team leaders; and schedule the rep who is great at compliance as a team leader for those who are weak in that area.

Train them properly

When you're managing a retail field team, just maintaining a head count is NOT the optimal way to get more doors. Not only do they have to be empowered with the right mobile tools (see below), but they have to approach each day fully informed about how to make every store perfect.

A well-trained field workforce makes your MSO or manufacturing company look competent, reliable, and focused on job one. When store managers see confident, trained reps in their stores, they'll hopefully report how well you operate to corporate. On the other hand, reps who are confused, hesitant, or incompetent may lead to a chain pulling stores from you.

Leverage their mobile devices

You want to give them all the tools they need to be successful while they are in the field. You don't want them to have to call headquarters to get basic store information. They shouldn't have to wait until they get home to create reports.

With a mobile app like ESP, they've got a complete tool set giving them all the information they need, data collection capabilities, reporting functionality, and more. No matter what tools you choose, make sure they help your team excel and not waste valuable time -- including the ability to have everything they need in one simple view -- for example: store specific documents, authorized lists, messages, products, displays, store-layouts, contacts, store information, history, as well as open mandatory and optional tasks by priority.

If reps have the tools they need handy, they'll not only be more productive, but they'll be happier at their jobs. Nobody likes to struggle with work!

Communicate with them clearly before, during, and after visits

Communicating with your retail service team when they need it will help performance and gain more doors. You should be able to give your reps the information they need to make a maximum contribution at a minimum cost – each and every visit! That means providing them with information such as:

·       Planograms

 

·       Schedules 

 

·       Routing

 

·       Merchandising standards

 

·       Survey  questions

 

·       Orders and returns

 

·       Store visit history

 

Encourage them to go above and beyond

Train them to look for opportunities on the floor to help your doors sell more. Get your reps to look at each visit as a chance to make a difference. Could a set be improved with new signage? Could a slow-mover get more attention in a different spot? If you can gain authorization to make a recommendation, have them present their suggestions to the appropriate person.

Visual merchandising is critical to retail sales. Empower your field reps to look critically at every display – including the stands (they can learn more about what to look for here). If they can lift basket size with a smart idea, support them...but make sure they get internal approval before mentioning anything to the store.

Create a training session on how and when to make recommendations. The point here is: a well-trained, knowledgeable team can help your organization gain more doors and create happy customers in the meantime.

Reward them

If you're not providing incentive for your field reps to knock it out of the park, then you're going to lose to an MSO or manufacturer that does. It's proven that rewarding people for a job well done (a PERFECT STORE), is a good way to provide value to your customers...which means more doors or more incremental space.

Acknowledge excellent retail execution when a rep achieves 100% project completion. Of course, in order to provide incentives, you need to know how they are performing in the first place! When you understand the retail field team's performance...for every project, task, visit, and issue...then you can provide a bonus.

It doesn't always have to be cash...although most people could use more. Offer discounts to local shops or restaurants. Give them tickets to events. A "thank you" for helping the company to thrive will usually net you more down the line.

The bigger takeaway here is to get into the mindset of creating ways to make your organization a high-performing vendor. Because if not, the pinch that retailers are feeling could be hitting you soon.

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Topics: Field Manager Greatness 100% Retail Execution more doors retail execution