In the world of pharmaceuticals, every sales rep has a ton of autonomy. In large part you are out there on your own pounding the pavement. Each company in the industry has a very specific framework for what a day should look like. Many tell you to make 10 calls a day. Some companies want at least 8 calls a day. Others say that they are looking for a specific quality of calls. Nevertheless, it is typically expected that a sales rep is in the field selling from 8:30 or 9 AM to 5 PM. But what if you make eleven or twelve calls at it is only 3:30 PM or 4 PM? Is it such a terrible thing to call it a day and go home? Let’s explore both sides of the coin.
As a manager, I was never tremendously concerned about looking at my watch. I was never one to check time stamps. I always judged my representatives on results and certainly did not want my reps walking on egg shells and operating in an environment of fear. It was my contention that this type of management style was not conducive to results. I always judged my reps on quality of calls and flat out results. My reps always respected this from me and were very likely to call me to tell me that they were ending a little early. If they had a doctors appointment or a personal issue they simply let me know. They enjoyed the trust I placed in them and my management style and subsequently wanted to work harder and bring more quality to their day. But let’s look at the pros and cons of ending your day early or staying till 5 PM.
If a sales rep consistently ends his/her day early and has terrible results, of course this is an issue. As managers we need to ask ourselves why this rep ends early consistently even while continually gaining bad sales results. Is there a deeper issue? Is something going on in their personal life that has created this mentality? As a manager it is your responsibility to get the most out of your reps and by making blanket assumptions without digging deeper is very irresponsible. I often times think about what the purpose of things are. The purpose of a rep sales day is to drive sales results. If results are not happening consistently, there is a reason. The only way to get to the heart of that reason is to gently probe allowing the rep to arrive at the answer him/herself. If possible assisting them in working through the issue is also a added bonus.
By doing this, you are showing the rep genuine concern and allowing him/her to explain themselves. If they are simply lazy, this will come out in such discussions and a more direct conversation must be had. If there are ancillary factors such as personal issues, this may also come out and the manager must steer the conversation to how that rep can gain results while also dealing with the everyday issues we all deal with such as family, relationships, children etc. Clearly as a manager we have to tread lightly if there are personal issues.
That manager that simply says, “you are ending each day early….this is not good, you are getting written up in your review” is not doing their job….he/she is not assisting the rep in finding solutions to the issues. Again the purpose is to gain sales results. Simply stating the obvious and writing someone up without working through the issue does nothing to assist in gaining results.
As managers we were taught to dig to find out if the issue is, that the rep lacks the skills necessary to be successful or if they don’t have the will or motivation to be successful. Think about it. Depending on which one it is, the conversation will be much different in terms of assisting the rep in gaining results.