The FIELDD Method – Resurrecting Field Sales in the Enterprise –

Compared with the phone or email – I have always had much more success in person.

I think deep down, the Australian values still run strong; we are a proud people and place a lot of value in getting to know someone on a personal level before we do business. That’s why I feel uncomfortable sending out any contract until I at least shake their hand.

The passion for field sales started right when I was a 10 years old – travelling door-to-door in the local neighborhood selling chocolates on behalf of a school fundraiser.

Bringing my mind to the present – there is something magical about the road; the things you see and even the hardships you experience – it can make the monotony of the office disappear in a heartbeat.

Yet in a day and age where air travel is more accessible than ever before – why don’t we take the time to go and see people before we do a deal?

The first thing I look at is the growth of inside sales. The economics of hosting people in house is too good to ignore. It is all too easy to set up an office in an area which is reasonably priced and train people in batches under the same system. Economies of scale can be maximized as headcount increases whilst employees can be monitored for performance consistently ; versus people in the field or who are working remote.

Secondly– I believe technology has risen to further promote the internal focus of our organizations. Fixed costs are now extremely low as conventional telephones have been replaced with VOIP/auto-dialer call center technology. Email has also risen to become the most common method of outreach; which can facilitate mass solicitation at next to no cost. Furthermore webinar/remote meeting technology allows us to do engage with people in a more engaging manner than standard voice calls; with a push to introduce VR technology and holograms into this realm in the future.

I also look at culture. In a world where we can get away with not showing up by dialing in remote and where social skills are becoming less refined as we are immersed in our devices; face to face meetings are much harder to come by. We prefer to interact just like our entertainment; only on-demand.

In the same vein, we also prefer that our digital calendars dictate our decision making rather than our own intuition. Despite the benefits – the common iCal or Google Calendar does not weight the priority of each engagement and treats all blocked time equally. For example – we may have a hair appointment for 10am next week and have an important client meeting an hour later at 11am; but rarely do we question whether we should move appointments if what has come up is of strategic priority; instead we simply see the blocked out time and default to the most common answer in the book, ‘I’m too busy.’

For functioning teams with a large number of staff – it is also impossible for other individuals to gauge this when they attempt to set group discussions – thus I believe it is easier than ever to give someone the answer ‘not now.

Based on the above it is evident that the prioritization of field work is slowly falling to the bottom of the pile – but I believe executives should consider the following in evaluating the place of field sales in the future of their organization.

Differentiation – Because most firms don’t place emphasis on sending people on site- it can be a massive contributor to overcoming the competition when you take a customer centric approach.

Relationships – Deals are not won on relationships but they are built upon them. The trust that an in person encounter fosters promotes continuation of the cycle and serves an important emotional anchor for future conversations

Rewards – Particularly for young reps, the opportunity to go into the field is an opportunity worth working for. I know most of the emerging Silicon Valley tech companies only take employees to conferences who have demonstrated results that consistently exceed expectations. Field work can serve as an important motivator and drive up team productivity.

Development – Given the declining level of skill in the social arena; providing opportunities for employees to connect on an inter-personal level with people from other firms provides an important nurturing event that not only allows them to develop professionalism in their external dealings but also brings back positive tendencies to the in-house team

Tangibility – If your product is tactile or a visual demonstration supports the generation of interest – there is no excuse for not showing up in person.

Therefore, if your win rate is higher than the costs involved (i.e. What % of deals do you win when field work is involved over the costs spent to send people to clients) developing your field sales efforts really should be more of a priority for modern day companies.

However – if we are going to send more people into the field – how do we ensure they are going to be successful? I’d like to share a couple of points of consideration using the FIELDD acronym I developed:

Filter – Only support reps in choosing in person opportunities where a prospect has demonstrated a clear pain point and is some what invested in championing the concept in their organization. Save discovery field operations for more experienced reps who have pipeline bandwith and skills in promoting interest. This way you will be spending more money on the right kind of meetings which are likely to yield a ROI

Individualise – Have your reps do something or bring something to break the ice. My favourite is to bring food and coffee or to bring a souvenir from the place I was last in; a commonplace activity I picked up in Japan. This makes the interaction memorable, surfaces more meaningful dialogue later in the discussion as rapport has been built and gives them an object/action as a point of reference if senior people drop out of the dialogue and need to be re-engaged

Entertain – Make the interaction enjoyable so as the team is excited for your rep to return and that the personal engagement shines as a highlight in an otherwise boring schedule.  This increases your chances of conversion and also supports the generation of quality referrals now and into the future

List – Instruct reps to use what they have discovered in the meeting to construct some concise bullet-form lists around the key areas they could contribute to the firm’s business case. Have them send this in a short follow up 1-8 hours after the meeting and use it as a reference point in case the deal begins to stall. What I mean by this is that they can use the points they have heard to replay the need to act in the words of the prospect – allowing the buyer to rediscover why they should take action for themselves. The punctuality of this will also set your reps apart from those of other firms

Date –  It is crucial that all reps are encouraged to book a follow up appointment at the conclusion of their meeting whilst all the stake holders are in the room. Even if it needs to be changed – often those involved will shed light on what more they expect in the interim to facilitate a deal being done and are more likely to be involved in selecting a new date rather than consistently deferring it to subordinates.

Decision – In more transactional, smaller sales – a close may be appropriate. However in the enterprise where cycles can be long and complex – I encourage my reps to try and establish a decision criteria by finding answers to questions like:

  • Who will put pen to paper on the contract?
  • Have you bought anything like this before and what was involved?
  • What is the timing around budget currently?
  • What do we need to do to arrive at a ‘Yes’ Decision?

In conclusion, I’d love your thoughts on the FIELDD method in the comments below and would love your thoughts on the future of field sales in the enterprise – if we enable our reps for success with the right method and select the right accounts to go after – the results attained in the field are totally worth the effort.

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube