Every year we interview hundreds of field leaders representing a broad range of companies, products, and approaches. There are some consistent best-practices that emerge that cause field reps to excel at retaining those they recruit. Here are the first five best-practices that field retention leaders live by:
Ask, Listen & Act
A pre-requisite to really knowing and serving a field team is the desire and skills to ask, listen and act. The results consistently astound those who effectively apply these practices.
o Get to know your customers and business recruits at a personal level.
o Ask for feedback, input and insights.
o Become an expert listener.
o Seek understanding.
o Act on what you hear, perceive and promise.
Practice #7: Recover when necessary and possible, be proactive about retention
Recovery’s a great way to keep team members and customers. Recovery is necessary when you have blown it. Recovery must be a very strong part of your retention effort, meaning, you can’t leave recovery to chance.
o Be prepared to recover.
o When things go wrong, and they often do, follow the basic steps of recovery: sincere apology, involve your team member or customer in how to handle the problem, quickly fix the problem, do something extra, follow up, and ask for repeat business and the opportunity to rebuild.
o Always take responsibility for goofs and become a sturdy, reliable bridge between the company, disappointments and failures on the one side and your customers and recruits on the other side.
o Learn the economics of the lifetime value of a faithful customer and resolve to invest in each individual customer.
o Perfect the ability to turn problems into strong relationship building blocks.
Practice #8: Regularly and meaningfully recognize
Once we learn to credit the people who are actually our customers and faithful workers in the field, the entire organization can achieve greatness. The key is to figure out how to convey to them our honest appreciation for their contributions and to realize the success of an organization depends less on motivating the top 10 percent and far more on motivating the other 90 percent.
o Recognize your customers and business builders from the heart.
o Remember that the right awards, recognition and celebration represent victory of will over doubt.
o Be consistent, be genuine and be accurate.
o Develop spontaneity and magic.
o Remember that it all comes down to motivation, and the heart of motivation is recognition and encouragement.
o Use recognition and rewards that are valued by the recipient – remembering that money is an important (but not the only) motivator.
Practice #9: Train and develop your team; constantly learn from retention leaders
Successful retention leaders take responsibility for training and developing their teams; and they, themselves, are lifelong students of the best practices.
o Always be learning and stay on higher ground.
o Share what you learn, don’t hold back; remember that each individual in your organization is at a different level, has different needs and responds in different ways.
o Use and contribute to the company’s training systems and materials.
Practice #10: Generously Give Warm Fuzzies
“Warm Fuzzies” refers to those special extras that provide the glue in a business relationship. Retention leaders understand what they are and how to use them. They are different for each leader and each recipient, but they all have in common a single vital element: a warm fuzzie creates and strengthens relationship ties. TLC (Tender Loving Care) comes naturally to some, has to be created by others. Either way, develop the feeling and give the nurturing care.
o Keep it simple and from the heart
o Develop your own style, techniques and flavor of TLC
o Give generously
Terrel Transtrum is the CEO and Founder of ServiceQuest, The Direct Selling Experts. firstname.lastname@example.org