Key requirements for a Sales Force Automation Solution

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What are the key requirements for a Sales Force Automation solution ?

Such a solution is aimed at any producer or distributor of consumer goods who must supply a distribution network fragmented into numerous points of sale.

In this type of configuration, which is common in emerging countries, a producer will often use an indirect distribution model, relying on distributors who have the logistical capacity to reach all these points of sale, in particular via sales / commercial.

Given the volumes and the complexity of monitoring, the adoption of a digital solution is essential. 

The difficulties often encountered by a brand that lead to the implementation of a solution are the following:

  • Loss of data and difficulty in exploiting data recorded on paper
  • Cumbersome manual input administrative work for sellers
  • Difficulty preparing the tour plan for salespeople and ensuring its proper execution;
  • Difficulty for supervisors to optimally monitor the daily activity of a salesperson and to ensure the proper execution of the tour plan;
  • Difficulty in having achievements by point of sale and by SKU for each salesperson;
  • Difficulty to have in real time the achievements of sellers in terms of SD destocking as well as the level of their outstandings;
  • Difficulty in analyzing the performance of salespeople;
  • Difficulty in measuring the coverage of points of sale.

The general objectives that a brand seeks by implementing such a solution are:

  • Control your distribution chain effectively
  • Improve the productivity of its teams in the field
  • Obtain precise quantitative data that allows an objective evaluation of performance, thereby serving as the basis for calculating variable commissions
  • Save time on manual information processing, automate business processes
  • Listen to the market, better respond to the problems identified to offer a better quality of service to the shops served
  • Provide distributors with a tool allowing them to better understand their business and the gains made by distributing the brand
  • Better control the debt levels of POS, distributors, etc.

Which teams are affected by a Sales Force Automation tool?

  • Sales teams employed by the brand itself
  • Distributor sales teams, not supervised by the brand
  • Retail Audit teams, either employed directly or outsourced to an agency
  • Trade Marketing teams, employed directly or outsourced to an agency

The article will go through the different components of SFA solution:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Field Force Management
  • Distributor Management System (DMS)
  • Retail Execution
  • Sales Digitisation
  • Stock and Order Management
  • Performance Reports

Customer Relationship Management

A Sales Force Automation has a Customer Relationship Management component.

  • First for the contact management, to be able to properly identify the customers, store the data on a cloud hosting and access it through mobile or web interface, filter the portfolio, etc. Typical information to collect:
  • Name
  • Location
  • Picture
  • Contacts
  • Buying Patterns
  • Classification of the outlet: supermarket, grocery store, kiosk, table, etc
  • Payment methods accepted: cash, cheque, mobile money, etc
  • Ability to sell on credit or not
  • The customers can also be automatically differentiated as per their status: prospect, lead and customer.
  • Client interaction tracking, to handle and keep track of all the interactions that have been conducted with the client in terms of visits, sales, engagements.
  • Lead management, to simplify the lead distribution process by assigning a lead to the right sales representative based on predefined criteria
  • Map visualisation. The tool should allow to display on Google Maps the customer based on their GPS location to better understand the territories covered.

Distributor Management System

  • Capture Distributor Information and Details:  Name, Location, contacts, volume targets and GPS Location.  
  • Link your customers to Distributors 
  • Capture customer orders through the mobile app and allow the distributor and the Sales Rep to track their respective orders.  
  • Integrate with the ERP to get the primary stock purchased by the Distributor and monitor the Distributor net stock. Generate Stock Alters. 
  • Monitor weekly closing stocks and weekly sales to trade – Get alerts and reports. 
  • Define credit limits as per the ERP 
  • Define Promotion and Incentives. 

Field Force Management System

Route planning and Execution, also named Route Plan / Beat Plan

It refers to the ability to plan the visits that the field user needs to conduct.

It can be done either by the field user himself, in full autonomy, or by the managers, through a web application, with cyclical visits to be done, based on the importance of the customer, or as per the meetings scheduled.

A route plan is necessary to ensure the time spent on the field is optimised. A modern Sales Force Automation will help you define the route plan and monitor the compliance from the field users against it.

Number of visits

The most important is to define a target in terms of the number of visits. On average for a consumer goods manufacturer / distributor, a sales representative is to perform around 10/15 visits per day.

The right number of visits target to set depends on the following parameters:

  • Time to spend during a visit / call. The higher the activities to perform during the visit, the longer. For example, if a full retail audit of all products is to be conducted, beyond just a sales, it might take 30mn, while some visits will just take 5mn to record a sales.
  • The journey time between two customers visited, this depends on the vehicle used. Ideally the route plan defined should ensure that the customers are close from each other to avoid long trips.

GPS tracking: Visualise on Google Maps the path followed by the user against his portfolio of customers

Retail Execution

Also called Retail Audit, In Store Execution, or Perfect Store Execution

  • Visit objective. Several options can be defined based on the purpose of the visit, is it a new customer ? a Routine visit ?
  • Picture taking. The app should allow to take multiples pictures then displayed on the web app.
  • Presence check: which product categories and product are present within the customer premises, for the brand and the competition ? At what level ? On the shelf, or at the back ?
  • Visibility Check: this is to measure the presence of visibility / branding / Point of Sales (POSM) materials at the level of the customer. The Sales Force Automation solution should allow to simply differentiate among the different visibility items: frames, posters, gondola, shelf, back bar, etc. Also both the visibility of the brand and the competition should be captured. 
  • Asset deployment: Track if an asset like a fridge or branding item is to be deployed at the level of the customer
  • Pricing check: If the products have a fixed price, what are the prices displayed ? Is the price compliant with the pricing guidelines ? On the shelves / menu / etc ? What are the prices of the brand vs the competition ? What are the discount applied ?
  • Promotion Check: What promotion does the customer have upcoming? What promotions are competition running or have upcoming? 
  • Quality Check: Are the products sold in good quality in terms of labelling / freshness / cleanliness ? Are they genuine or can fake products be identified ?
  • Competition check: What brands are the highest selling in this outlet? What is your share of business? What is competition doing better than you in this outlet? What are the recommendations from the field user to win in this customer ? 
  • Stock Check: What’s the current stock level? What’s their run rate (Rate of Sale)?

Sales Digitisation

Several types of sales can be captured:

  • Presales. When the sales representative just captures an order, which gets delivered later on by another vehicle
  • Hot Sales / Direct Sales. When the sales representative make the sales directly and gives the product.

Common denominators that need to be present:

  • In built calculator 
  • Ability to have various price lists, based on the customer type (wholesalers vs retailers)
  • Ability to have an inbuilt e- brochure to show samples of the products
  • Ability to view the previous sales made by the customer
  • Ability to connect to Bluetooth printers for Electronic Ticket Receipts with official client name
  • Ability to view the debtors in the sales representative portfolio to work on the collection rate

Stock and Order Management

While the ERP tracks the primary sales, from the manufacturer to the distributor, a Sales Force Automation is helpful to follow the secondary sales, from the distributor to the retailer.

As such, by retrieving the stock details from the ERP through an integration, it is possible to monitor in real time the net stock levels of the distributor and recommend him to place an order to avoid the out of stock situation.

Similarly the stock levels can be monitored at the customer level, through retail audit conducted by the field users through a retail audit workflow.

A Sales Force Automation can also be used to capture orders from the distributors.

Performance Dashboards

A Sales Force Automation should help you monitor the following Key Performance Indicators through real time reports on a web solution.

KPIs related to the Field Force Monitoring

  • Attendance report: show field force visits and time worked
  • Coverage & Callage Report
  • Geo location report
  • Sales representative ranking based on sales, route plans and targets. 
  • Journey Planning for every Sales Rep / ASM. 
  • Real Time Tracking of Sales Force.
  • Travel Claim Settlement; Capture Night-outs and Per Diem. 

KPIs related to the Sales Management

The Sales will reflect automatically after they have been captured on the field

  • Average drop size = average sales value
  • Average sales per outlets, user, area,region etc
  • Unique outlet bill
  • Unique productive calls & Strike Rate
  • -SKU Performance

KPIs related to the Stock and Order Management

  • Real time visibility to stock in transit
  • Outlet stock level by each SKU (In cases)
  • Distributor Inventory Report
  • Out of stock report
  • Predictive Order Suggestions and Re-order Level Alerts.
  • Order fulfilment and Sales Return.

KPIs related to the Retail Execution

  • Visibility Tracker
  • Competition Performance 
  • Pricing Report
  • Share of business in outlet

Some reports require to integrate with the ERP for example to retrieve:

  • the stock levels purchased by the distributor
  • The credit limit and debt of the customer

Reports should be accessible on a web or mobile interface or accessible through email push notifications.

Technical Specifications

  • The Sales Force Automation should rely on a web portal, hosted on the cloud, to manage centrally the users, team, customer and view the reports.
  • The SFA solution should rely on a mobile app to allow field users to view the customer information from the field directly, even offline.
  • The mobile app should have an offline mode, to hold data when out of network coverage and send when network is available 
  • The mobile app should not require specific handheld devices to work, but just standard Android smartphones.
  • Both the web and mobile interfaces should be user friendly to allow for an easy adoption
  • Audit log and Security. The mobile app should be able to track all activities done on the system.

FieldPro is the right Sales Force Automation to help you achieve significant efficiencies gain in your distribution operations. If you are interested in seeing how our solution can help you, please fill this form and one of our product specialists will get in touch with you to organize a demo.

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