001: How to Rock Text Message Field Support

Learn 6 quick steps to speed up field support via text messaging.

What's up! I'm Stephen Rhyne, hall of fame
direct sales rep and creator of ConveYour.com,

where we help companies with large independent
sales forces recruit, train, and retain more

of their sellers; and in this episode, I'm
going to show you how to rock text message

support using a framework that we've developed
with some of the biggest direct sales companies

here in the US and abroad, where they're managing
10, 20, 30,000 reps in a selling season. Be

sure to stay to the end of the video. We're
going to share with you an exclusive…no,

it's not really exclusive, but it's a cool
little tool called the “Perfect Field Support

Transformer™”, that's going to help you
take what we talk about in the video and transform

your reactive, kind of jumble together support
activities, and turn it into something that's

going to make the selling season feel more
like a vacation, and it's going to turn your

blocked reps into happy selling busy bees.
Okay, so stay tuned!

[Music: Never Ending Soul Groove by Mattijs
Muller | premiumbeats.com]

Okay, let's talk about some challenges you
and your team might be facing. Does this sound

like you? Leading up to your selling season--that
ramp up--does it feel at all like you're running

a festival? Like you're an event manager?
You know what I'm talking about, when you

go to an event and there's the person like
running to the back of the room and they've

got a couple, you know, swag t-shirts in their
hand? And then maybe a couple people are waiting

there at the little tilt-up desk, and then
they're on the phone at the same time, and

there's like all this stuff to do in this
very, very short period of time--it's all

very untenable, the level of work--but it
has to get done because of the shortness of

the event. This is the unique situation that
direct sales is in when they run a, you know,

selling season. You've got all these reps
who are brand new, and don't know where to

take their questions. They also are fearful
of asking questions that might make them look

stupid, so sometimes they don't even ask the
questions, and then they bail. You've also

got reps getting inconsistent messages where
they ask one person one thing, and they get

a different answer for the same questions
from somebody else. You've also got a burden

put on your team leaders--who should be really
motivating and influencing reps to sell more--spending

time answering questions that are probably
already answered if they just took that question

and brought it to field support, right? So
that's all reactive work that you have to

do to get over the hump of onboarding all
these reps for the summer, you know, or selling

season. Meanwhile you also have this like
workload of all of these alerts that you have

to get out to the field, right? So sales and
prize deadlines, compliance guidelines product

updates, you know, Zoom call schedule--stuff
like that--and then the leftover time you

have left is when you can really spend time
driving sales through good, efficient communication

through say a text messaging channel. So really
the challenge that you're faced with is this

very short period of time where a lot of reps
are coming on where they're asking a ton of

questions, and it's how do we manage that
chaos and make it better? Well let's contrast

some of the challenges here with some amazing
opportunities, okay. So I'm going to ask them

in the form of a question to kind of visualize
or you visualize and paint a bigger and brighter

future around this topic, okay? So what would
your team's focus feel like if none of their

phones were getting blown up as a result of
reps just, you know, sending them questions

all the time? What would it feel like to invest
way more time in motivating and influencing

reps rather than just answering logistical
questions all the time? And what would it

feel like to have no reps bail as a result
of not knowing the next step? Right? They

always feel like they can, you know, get the
answer to their question. What would it feel

like for no reps to be able to say, "My manager
didn't tell me about that," or "I didn't know

that was available." Or something like that?
And then how cool would this be: what if rep

said, "It's like you read my mind. It's like
you sent me the the information I needed right

before I got to that step"? How cool would
that be? Right? So we're going from reactive

to proactive. Well the answer to all these
questions is, "That would be awesome!", and

I'm going to show you how to get that result.
Before we go through the framework, I'm going

to give you a little backstory on how we developed
this framework and why we might be uniquely

qualified to talk about this problem. So I've
been developing field training and SMS solutions

for companies with 1099 sales forces for over
a decade now, and I've watched them all struggle

with the ins and outs of managing a huge sales
force and supporting them via text message.

Case in point, one of our clients a couple
years ago had 700 locations, 700+ locations,

each with an individual call receptionist
and they took that from 700 receptionist to

100 text message responders in a single text/call
center. So they get millions and millions

of text messages to that location, and so
you're going to learn a thing or two around

how to do field support at that scale. So
we've kind of had a front row seat to seeing

what does work and doesn't work, and that
is what has helped us develop this framework.

All right, so the first step in the framework
is to map the journey. Map the journey the

rep takes in your business--the selling experience
maybe even the recruiting experience I can't

tell you how many times I've had companies
come to us and get super excited about automating

all their training, automate their their text
messaging to their reps, and I say great show

me your onboarding flow. You know, show me
a whiteboard or something around what your

flow is, and...or at least an outline, you
know, like a text outline that shows what

steps they go through. And they can't produce
one. And I'm always amazed by this especially

in big companies. The thing that's happened
over time is that they've added and removed

individual processes and experiences for the
rep. You know, they add one in. They pull

one out...that sort of thing. And what happens
when they do that is there's no one person

that has the full understanding of what the
experience is, except the rep. The rep is

the one actually experiencing it, and it's
sometimes disjointed, okay? And so it's super

important that we're vigilant around what
that experience is for the rep. So I use a

tool called Whimsical to help clients with
this type of stuff. And I think it's free.

At the time of this recording I think it was
free. It's super easy to use. It's not really

daunting and overly complex like some of these
other tools I've used. I mean you literally

just grab this thing out and you drag it and
then you can add other items on it. It's super

easy. What I have here is just a little one
I put together, that goes all the way--it's

of course hypothetical--but it goes all the
way from when someone first learns about the

job, okay? So they get referred by a friend.
They receive an opportunity video via text

message or something. And then, "Did they
take action?" If not, we're going to send

them down a nurturing sequence where we're
going to get them on a regional recruiting

webinar every once in a while to warm them
up. If so, if they fill out an application,

"Did they fill it out?" No, we're gonna send
some nudge text messages. Over here we're

then gonna--if they do fill out the application--we're
gonna alert the local area manager to follow

up with them, and double down with them, okay?
And then explain the contract and explain

how the contract works and when they'll go
out for the season and stuff. "Did they finish

the contract?" If not, we're gonna nudge them
you know, yada, yada. So we're going through

and we're laying all of this out. Now the
way I think about this is a sentence like

this: By {date} I will have to do {action}
for {stakeholder}. So you know, by you know

by two weeks in from signing my contract I
should be done with my training, I should

have completed my compliance training, so
that the compliance department is good. Right?

And so putting that little stakeholder on
there helps you to understand who's going

to want to know the information about who
is where. On the other topic here, while I'm

laying this out I'm also looking at what are
the things that are fixed? What are the fixed

parts of the schedule for the selling season,
that are always going to be there? Right?

So we have a weekly recruiting webinar and
then later in the summer we turn that off

and we have the start of the summer sales
contest, right? And then we have when it ends

and then maybe they're in here there's some
kind of intro to leadership meeting or something.

And these are fixed. So regardless of where
somebody else is in the flow they're there

and then we're going to put them there because
they're going to interact with those messages.

And depending on where the flow is, you're
going to want those messages to line up where

their flow is. We'll talk about this a little
bit later--these outbound alerts on deadlines

and contests and stuff, you know, come in
nicely later. Step two of the framework is

to become the customer. We're not talking
about customer support here. We're actually

still talking about reps--field reps--but
I want you to think about servant leadership,

okay? Servant mindset. In this regard, you
are serving your customer. The rep is your

customer. And if you think about it that way
where perception is reality and what the rep

is experiencing, is their experience, and
the customer's always right, it's really helpful

to get past some of this stuff where it's
like, "Oh it's just a bunch of reps that were

supposed to listen on day one, and they forgot."
Right? Well, it is what it is, and they still

need to sell, and if they did forget, they
still need access to that information, right?

And so if you get past some of that, you know,
culture stuff, and just focus on serving these

people, it actually gets easier, because you
can start to think of more questions. Now

the beauty of this framework--when you go
through a framework like this--is it starts

to bubble out all of the individual steps
that a rep goes through to do the job. And

some of them maybe were doc--you'll start
to realize there are questions like, "Oh that's

why they always ask that question," because
once you go here then there's no explanation

as to how they get here, or when that's gonna
happen, okay? So by documenting it all, you

start to uncover the places that aren't greased
well. Step three in the framework is to Create,

Collect, and Curate. So we're going to create
and collect questions, and then curate answers

for those questions. So let's go back to our
journey. If you see all these little purple

dots, these are all places where I've been
trying to generate questions that might go

with that step. So what are some questions
that the rep will have. You might have one

right away and then you might want to take
some time to really think through it. So how

would they know what the comp--how to complete
the action? How will they know when they are

completed with the action? What does done
look like? So let me give you an example.

They receive an opportunity video. So let's
click on that. Is this a legit position? Is

this commission only? Is this door-to-door?
What does the average rep make in a summer?

And so you can tell--you can see many questions
that you want to address in that opportunity

video, right? Let's send the onboarding questionnaire.
When do I have to have the questionnaire completed?

How long do I have to complete it? Who is
going to see this? I don't want to share stuff

I don't you know want other people to see
or there's certain people I don't want to

see. What is the next step after I finish
this application? Do I need to do anything

after I hit send or do I just wait? Right?
So these are all things that generate questions

that go to probably their friend or the you
know the next person up. Okay? So start generating,

creating those questions. Make a big list
and I like to attribute them to a specific

point in your journey, because it's tying
it to a real world spot in the in the journey.

Okay, now collect all of these and send them
to your sales leaders, to your team leaders,

and to your support people, and say what other
questions did you have when you were a rep?

Right? Or, what other questions came up with
some of the people on your team? And when

they see a list that's already created, it's
going to be easier for them to be like, "Oh

yeah, this too." Okay? And maybe have a shared
doc where they write those out. So there you've

created and you've collected a lot of questions
and the next step is to curate answers. So

I recommend categorizing all of them first.
So take all of your questions that you created

and collect and categorize them into topics,
okay, around specific things like contracting

or, you know, signing an application, or whatever.
And then have two forms of an answer. So you

have a TLDR answer which is a quick response
like, "Yes, you can do that." Right? Or, "It

takes two days," or whatever. And then have
a longer answer if you need. And that longer

answer would be in the form of a resource,
like a ConveYour lesson, or a training PDF,

or some training resource you have in your
training platform. All right, so then you

have, you have it all. You have all the questions.
You have all of the answers ready to go, and

you have them categorized, and then the next
step is to take that and put it into a platform

that's going to allow you to have your field
staff, your support, responders, use those

really, really efficiently. So when a rep
sends in a text message asking a question,

they just open up the saved replies. They
search really quick, you know, see it, hit

enter, and voila, the rep has the answer.
So ConveYour has that built in. We call it

"Snippets" or saved replies, and it's built
into our "Conversations" in our texting platform.

Step four is building the muscle. So what
do I mean by that? You've done all this work

to collect it. You built your journey--all
of that--and the worst thing you could do

is just not really market it, right? It's
like building a product that you didn't market.

You gotta market and communicate that this
is available now, and this is the bee's knees,

this is the best way to get an answer from
the bottom of the field up. Okay? So proactively

communicate to your leaders, to your VPs,
to all reps, that this is the place where

you get your support. I highly--this is a
cool tip--use a vCard. Use an iOS, vCard and

make a profile of a persona. You know, it
could be Johnny or Vicky, okay? Or some name

that you're going to give your field support
location, and also list out all of the other

contact locations like "emergency", or "legal",
or, you know, "commissions"--questions about

commissions--if they're different channels.
Put it all in that vCard and then send that

vCard out via text message. And now you've
said, "This is where you go." You've steered

them all to that one location. This is killer.
This really reduces the amount of people coming

through different back doors, and, you know,
different side doors to ask questions. And

make that persona. There's a reason why apple
calls Siri, Siri. Not you know "Automator"

on your phone or something. There's a reason
why you give it a name: because it's brand-able,

and it's easy to brand. So you could--"Did
you ask Johnny?" "Did you ask Vicky?" "Oh

yeah, I'll ask Vicky that question!" Right?
So give it a brand. And then the last thing

is be kind of strict about it. So you're gonna
set this up. You're going to have it all to

go, but people are going to still have the
habit of reaching out to their front line

manager, or they're going to be reaching out
to you, or your field staff. You've got to

be strict on it, and you just got to say,
"Hey, we have Johnny now." Or, "We have Vicky"

And go ahead and send the text and send them
the link, okay? And they'll get used to doing

that, and then when they get a better response
and a faster response from field support than

they do you, because you wait, because you're
so busy, and you don't answer, then they'll

realize that's where to go. Okay, so step
five is to automate all of your outbound field

communications. All of those little text messages
like, "Hey, we got a Zoom call tonight," and,

"The contest is starting next week," and,
"Uh oh, the competition's gonna end. You better

get your orders turned in!" All stuff like
that, you want to lay them out weeks before

the peak season, right? And if you saw in,
when we were setting up the the journey in

step one, I was kind of laying those out in
my journey as kind of like a fixed list, a

little side car here. And it's super helpful
to lay them out this way. Again you're trying

to buy back a ton of your time, get this off
of your plate, so you can focus on influencing

and motivating reps, and responding to issues
that come up that use your unique ability.

The other thing it does is it--back to step
four about building the muscle--it reinforces

the channel. So they are getting these messages
from you consistently and it's an easy way

for them to reply. So that is step five automate
the field communications. All right step six

is a bonus step, and that is to automate your
messaging like a marketer. Why am I talking

about marketing? I'm gonna talk about this
concept until the cows come home, but in the

direct sales space, as a trainer, as a sales
manager, you are in the the sales role. You're

in a marketer role. You are driving belief.
You are driving new behaviors with a large

group of people, okay? And so you have an
opportunity to be creative around messaging,

to make personalized messages that are contextual,
that are timely, and you can send text messages

using automation that could have a big impact
on a rep. So I'll give an example. "Congrats

on hitting x in sales for the week. You are
less than y away from hitting your next promotion.

Keep going." Right? So it's got their name
on it. It's contextual to how much they've

sold. All sorts of stuff you can do, working
with your IT team with maybe us, with ConveYour,

to automate these types of messages, and make
a rep's day. Right? Or really spark a conversation.

So that is step six, automating like a marketer.
All right so maybe you're on the fence around

implementing tech support, or maybe you need
to sell this to the board, or sell this to

your managers, as to why you want to invest
in this project. Couple statistics. The one

that most people know about is that 90% of
text messages get read within three minutes

of receiving the text. But another lesser
known statistic is that 68% of millennials

choose text messaging first over any other
type of communication. So that's kind of going

against the grain if you're asking to do phone
call support, or email support, or any other

type of support. Texting is what they want.
In review here are the six steps to perfect

text message field support. Number one: map
the journey. Number two: become the customer.

Number three: create, collect, and curate.
Number four: build that muscle. Number five:

automate all your field communications, and
Number six (the bonus step): automate like

a marketer. As I mentioned at the start of
the video I want to share with you our perfect

field support transformer. It's a resource
that's going to provide you structure and

samples so you can build your perfect field
support strategy. So click on the link in

the comments below and get your copy!

001: How to Rock Text Message Field Support
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