It is good to finally get those four words out of my system! I hated written call reports as a salesperson and I hated them as a sales manager. They are pointless, especially today with all the electronic forums available.
But companies persist in making the call report a priority. I’m convinced that the reason managers stick with sales call reports is that they have been a part of the corporate landscape since Grant took Richmond. It is tough to break with history and habit.
There are reasons why salespeople should report on activity in their territory. It is essential to know:
If competition is offering some new products or new wrinkles on old products.
If the marketplace is shifting in what it considers important.
If customers are unhappy with quality or service.
If competition is making inroads into existing key customers.
If the salesperson needs help in specific areas. (Assuming they are honest and admit it.)
If a new product is as highly thought of by the customer as it was by marketing.
The simple solution to this is to know what you or the company thinks is key information to track. Document a succinct list of these questions and talk to your salespeople each week and get these questions answered. If your salespeople are remote do it by phone; if your reps work out of the home office do it at the weekly sales meeting. Set a specific time to talk with each rep (again, if they are remote) and limit the phone time to a specific number of minutes. If the call requires more time take it but don’t lengthen it out just because it’s cool to hear your opwn voice.
Summarize this information and pass it around to interested departments/people within the company.
The Final Thought: You never really hear the truth from your subordinates until after 10 in the evening. Jurgen Schrempp-Former CEO of Daimler Chrysler.