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Optimising headcount for Increased field sales team performance

Wednesday 23 May 2018 Field Force Planning

Lee Hawkes's picture
By Lee Hawkes

Field sales teams that are the right size and fully utilised are often high-performing. Striking this delicate balance is critical to gaining efficiency in the field, which will result in lower costs and higher sales. 

When managing a field sales team – regardless of size – your ultimate goal is to maintain customer service levels and maximise sales opportunities.

There’s a lot of work for your people to do as individuals to achieve that, but you also play a vital role in optimising workloads and giving every field sales person the opportunity to excel. 

Many field sales people will be spending a significant amount of time driving, when they could otherwise be selling.  When planning, if you get the driving time wrong your headcount will be wrong – it’s an important balance to strike. 

Here are three tips to help you better analyse and utilise headcount. 


1. Grow your process, not your workforce 

A field sales team is a naturally expensive resource. When you factor in salaries, vehicles, fuel and expenses, bonuses, training, and equipment like laptops and phones, the costs soon mount up. Get the headcount wrong, and it could be costing your company thousands. 

But without the right technology in place to combine millions of drive time calculations, it’s impossible to produce something accurate, or indeed discover how you can improve when, where, and how often your field sales people visit customers and prospects. 

Optimisation doesn’t necessarily mean operating at 100%. More likely, you’ll want to use 90-95% of a field sales person’s day. That way you can reduce headcount and maintain call coverage, or increase call coverage with your existing team.  

without the right technology in place to combine millions of drive time calculations, it’s impossible to produce something accurate

2. Invest in efficiency to maximise ROI

Field sales people do two things: they drive and make calls. Given that driving can account for as much as 34% of a field sales person’s day, it’s critical to know how much driving a field sales team should be doing to be efficient. 

Underestimate drive time, and you won’t be able to achieve the call coverage, which means customer service levels will be lower, and you’ll be missing out on valuable sales. Likewise, too many heads will be an unnecessary drain on costs. 

The reality is that driving time is different for every call depending on the road network and customer density, so it’s vitally important to get it right first time. 

driving can account for as much as 34% of a field sales person’s day

3. Make sure you have the right software to support your team 

Most planners have probably conducted a headcount analysis and factored in call locations, call times and frequencies, call cycles, and working hours of their staff. They may have even attempted to incorporate driving time as well – but this will have been a rudimentary estimate, and ultimately incorrect. 

By eliminating human error and uncertainty, field sales teams can extract vast amounts of insight – and new revenue – simply by implementing intelligent software into their process. 

Before organisations engage with CACI, we often find that their field-based sales teams are working at around 80% capacity (with some people within the team working at over 100%, or under 60%). 

The right software can help you achieve the utilisation that is right for your business and give you the confidence that you can hit your coverage targets.

Headcount analysis: sell more, save money 

Before you can make a big decision like increasing headcount, you need the full facts backed by hard, reliable data. Without it, you’re merely going off your best judgement and guess-work. 

The majority of companies we come across have around 10% more headcount than is necessary. Use our calculator tool now to find out if you’re one of them, and take the first step towards greater sales team utilisation


Further Information

If you want to hear more about how CACI's Field Force expertise can help you, get in contact now

3 Tips to better analyse and utilise headcount

Optimising headcount for Increased field sales team performance