Field salespeople were once the backbone of sales teams around the country. But are field salespeople an endangered species in 2020? Are they still playing the same role in your sales team? Could your sales team benefit from a different type of set up? In other words, if you’re going to invest in your sales and marketing team, are field sales staff still a good investment?
This is a question we regularly face when discussing marketing strategies with prospective clients. A company we visited last month is typical, in this regard, of many of the SMEs we work with. Three years ago this business used to employ eight field sales people. These were responsible for account management and customer relationship building, as well as new business sales visits.
Since then the company has adopted inbound marketing, the point of which is to get customers knocking on your door, rather than you knocking on theirs. They still employ field reps, but these are down to three, and they work alongside three inward sales/internal salespeople. Before the company adopted inbound marketing, there wouldn’t have been much for an internal sales person to do. Now, however, the inbound strategy generates leads, which means the internal salespeople frequently speak to more customers per day than the field sales reps, and have access to more information – so can provide a better service to prospective customers.
How Field & Internal Sales People Can Work Together
At the same time, the example of our customer shows how inbound and field sales staff can work in tandem to improve results and create a positive feedback loop. Field sales staff still have a crucial role to play in providing initial consultations, face-to-face lead nurturing and customer care – even if there is less reliance now on cold calling. Some people simply prefer speaking with someone face to face than by email or phone, and this is unlikely to change in the near future.
Insights from real-world meetings with sales staff feed directly back into the marketing strategy, building a more complete and accurate picture of the target market, and enabling more effective marketing communications.
So, is there still a place for field sales professionals in the increasingly digitised arena of marketing? Yes, definitely. There’s no replacing the human touch of having someone there in person, or at the end of the phone, and we are confident that there will always be a role for external sales people in closing deals and building customer relationships.
The decision shouldn’t be viewed as a case of field sales OR inbound marketing. Rather, inbound marketing and lead generation can make field sales more effective – by targeting your sales efforts on the most promising leads, and equipping your team with the background knowledge to improve their conversion rate. When investing in your marketing and sales team, therefore, look at the overall value of your team and see how different types of salespeople can work together to raise your ROI.
Talk to us about balancing and integrating your sales and marketing functions by calling 01332 343281.
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