Field checks or audits - Sales Management

Field checks (or field audits) by sales managers offer an excellent opportunity to keeping touch with customers and the market, and to monitor the performance and activities of the sales team. While this is a more common form of management activity in consumer product companies, where managers can discreetly visit a range of stores or trade dealers,it also has applications in some industrial and business-to-business sales, possibly in the guise of a service quality audit. The sales manager should conduct regular checks of field activity on each territory under his control.



Two types of field check or audit, each withal different emphasis, are:

  • general field check audit, i.e. taking limited geographical area and calling on all outlets to make and note observations
  • follow check audit, i.e. using a recent daily activity report as the base, and calling on all outlets listed to observe the salesperson’work activity and achievements.An example of a field audit notes form is illustrated in Table. While this illustrates retail audit check, the format might be adapted for use in other selling environments.

The sales manager conducting a field audit should make notes of observations and comments,for subsequent feedback to the appropriate salespersons. An audit should focus Mona few key current priorities, such as the implementation of current promotion programmers,effective use of point of sales material,or distribution achieved with the launch of a new product.

If a sales manager is planning to work withal salesperson later in the day it can be good practice to visit briefly a couple of customers who would have received a sales call earlier that day by the salesperson about to be accompanied. The sales manager then has immediate knowledge of activity, and may form views about what to focus training attention on during the period with the salesperson.

It is important to provide feedback on both general checks and follow checks as soon as practical after these have been conducted. The salesperson should learn how you view his or her territory, both with praise for good standards and achievements, and constructive criticism and advice where problems are identified. If the sales manager meets a salesperson soon after a field audit of his or her work then it is not wise to rush into giving feedback, as that makes an audit look like policing action.

Usually a little time to relax the salesperson to your presence, and some positive feedback on observations in any customers visited, can provide a basis for more comprehensive feedback and some specific and training.

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