In this 2017 survey, only 34% of business travellers responded that they like to travel to see new places, with 66% saying they travel for career development, for the money, or that they outright don’t like it. Only 34% travel because they want to?
The work of a travelling sales is more than just meeting and selling. It takes a huge amount of effort to do a job which involves monthly travel. Aside from the logistics of checking in and out, endless hotel lobbies and fast food joints, the majority of salespeople travelling internationally will be working around the clock, conducting face-to-face meetings with existing clients and new prospects, reporting meetings, scheduling and responding to their email.
It’s a hectic day. Small wonder there’s burnout for travelling sales teams.
Whilst living life out of a suitcase, business travellers also need to be at their best when they get to their meetings. These meetings directly impact bottom-line, these guys are at the coal surface of the business, and they will be jet-lagged and tired when some of these meetings take place.
Facing this, HR has a lot to consider to make sure this unpredictable part of a business runs smoothly, and that sales reps are motivated and ready to clinch key deals even when they would rather just drop.
The business hinges upon the ability to make meetings quick and concise, with charisma and challenges met. And your sales team are the guys that need every support in getting this crucial part of business right. An unhappy travelling salesperson could be a serious issue company wide.
So how to make things as pleasant as possible to keep your team bright-eyed for their critical meetings?
If you haven’t considered the following list, you probably should:
Without going into the minutiae of this list, everybody should be implementing strategies for health and wellbeing. Hotels should have the amenities requested by your team; if the guy likes a spa, get a hotel with a spa. Too pricey? See point 2.
You can shed some of the load by getting industry people to help out. Take a clear look at the cost/benefits of working with an agency, are they going to save your business money and free you internal team up?
Travelling sales staff face a raft of things that can affect their work. You may have the perfect sales rep whose wife gets pregnant, whose mojo disappears, who just gets damn tired of the airmiles. So a constant treadmill of training and travelling companionship will bring newer team members to the forefront and able to step in with little impact on business.
If team members can join others in meetings, it actually settles the client, because when that rep next steps into the room on his own, he’s a familiar face.
Of all the professions for people to drop out off little warning, business travellers must be somewhere near the top. In fact in Latin America, 95% of business travellers say the quality of their travel experience impacts on their business.
It’s HR’s job to make sure that younger reps are being constantly trained by their experienced colleagues, not only in their sales techniques but also in the little details of how to make a job in travelling successful; Sleep disruption? Earplugs. Long hours? Yoga. Bad diet? All of these things can be prepared for with good training, making for a better work environment.
HR can help with this training by offering support in internationa business travel to experienced reps in making sure new travellers take care of themselves and learn to love the adventure.
So longer breaks in cities can be great for newer reps. Ever bought a Durian on Jalan Petaling? Go, enjoy it, well try at least. Have your reps make the most of their paid time abroad. It will give them a different perspective, a fonder respect for the countries they are working in, and crucially, a better report in those critical meetings.
In almost every area of every business, automation and technology is taking over. Not so in travel, folks. 93% of respondents in the same survey stated that face-to-face interaction is still preferable to webcam conversations. They probably would, but when you consider the miles they put in to get to those meetings, it’s a big statistic.
According to Linking the World CEO Mina Chang:
"The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that's only felt in face-to-face conversations,"
So International business travel is here to stay, and not stay but grow. Make sure your reps have got what they need, don’t rely on any massive changes in technology, and have them travel and work together occasionally to spread sales techniques and strategies across the business.
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