Scheduling a Sales Ride-Along
One of the best ways for a sales manager to see how well his salespeople actually sell is to go along with them on a few appointments and observe them in action. These ride-alongs can either be highly productive or a total disaster, depending on how you as a sales manager handle the situation.
First, you should set the salesperson's expectations well in advance. As a rule, sales ride-alongs will take one of three forms: the manager is a passive observer only, the manager does all the selling while the salesperson observes, or both parties become actively involved in the day's appointments. Whichever approach you choose, be sure to let the salesperson know so that he'll be ready for your involvement or lack of it.
Next, you should establish the schedule for the day's activities far enough in advance so that the salesperson can prepare appropriately. For example, you might decide to ask him to make thirty cold calls and attend two appointments on ride-along day. In that case, having plenty of lead time gives him the opportunity to set up two solid appointments and clear his schedule for that cold calling.
When you get to the actual appointments, it's a good idea to tell the prospect what's going on as well as explaining your planned level of involvement. This keeps the prospect's attention focused on the person doing the actual selling, and he won't be wasting his time wondering why the heck you're there.
Finally, give the salesperson your feedback right after the call or appointment ends. That way, you can talk about any issues while the memory is still fresh in both your minds. Remember that your role is to coach the salesperson and not to judge him. If you uncover glaring issues in someone's sales skills, it's an opportunity to help him improve those skills. And if you notice that he did something particularly well, be lavish in your praise.
Once you've discussed any issues you uncovered and given praise where it's due, you and your salesperson should decide on a measurable goal for him to achieve by a certain time. For instance, if she is great at setting appointments but has a hard time closing those prospects, you might decide on a goal of a 25% improvement in his close-to-appointment ratio within the next three months.