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Principle 4 of Effective Field Force Planning

Tuesday 23 March 2021 Field Force Planning

David Jones's picture
By David Jones

Principles of effective field force planning pt.4 of 7

In previous articles we've discussed if your sales reps should be generalists or specialists, the utilisation of your sales team and developing fair and balanced territories

Now, we’re going to address the link between smart recruitment and commuting. Historically, the amount of commuting a rep does at the start and end of each day has been viewed as pretty much irrelevant; it is just something a rep has had to withstand and cope with. Even to the point of opting out of legislation that sought to acknowledge, measure and limit it.

Well, in the words of the reluctant Nobel prize winner, Bob Dylan, times are a changin’. Whether it will be in the light of recent court judgements (such as one involving Tyco at the European Court of Justice), or simply that society and, to some extent, companies themselves are seeing the benefits of employees having a better work-life balance, a sales rep having to do a large slice of ‘invisible’ work is getting less and less acceptable by the day.

So, if we are going to start including commuting in a rep’s working hours, what does that mean for their employer? Well, probably that they are likely to need a bigger sales force if they want to keep calling on all their customers with the current contact strategy. Or maybe it will mean having to slice and dice the call file, with lower-value and more remote customers no longer receiving a visit.

Given that this might well jeopardise sales revenues, it is certain that any company will want to mitigate the impact of commuting. Which is why the following statistic is so compelling – that is that the impact of recruiting in the wrong location can lead to sales reps having to commute a whopping 43% more than if we can recruit them in the ideal location – the average was actually just over 30%.


Now, we are not saying that we are living in an ideal world where we can just recruit a great salesperson in an ideal location. However, next time you have a vacancy, rather than take the easy option of recruiting their replacement in the same vicinity as your leaver, why not do some proper analysis? Consider the passage of time, churn in your customer base, attrition in your sales team, and changes in the road network. Could the easy option also be a very costly one?

The next part of this series will focus on frequency patterns and travel times.

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If your field force team is going to have a better work-life balance, taking into account their commute, and where you should recruit to minimise this, is important. Pt.4 in the effective field force planning series.

Principle 4 of Effective Field Force Planning