No one will deny the fact that the first perception your sales team forms once an SFA solution is implemented is that they are going to be tracked and monitored even if that’s not the intention. No matter how much you try to convince them about the real purpose of the tool, it’s not easy to eliminate the unintended ‘distrust’ factor created within the team. Unless you neutralize that negative perception, adoption will be a big challenge which may lead to a failed / unsuccessful implementation.
A proven method of getting the team onboarded to the tool without any resistance is to have some features which are more of engaging and collaborative in nature. Once they find the SFA to be quickest and easiest channel to access a lot of useful (and at times motivating) information, they will be self-driven to make the SFA part of their daily market working. We can broadly classify these features in two categories – Gamification and Enabler. While Gamification deals with approaches which involve a mix of motivation, fun and collaboration, Enablers are directly related to features which makes the working and interaction of a sales person much more productive when he is at a retailer point. Here is a glimpse of some of the features which, if available in your SFA solution, can significantly enhance employee engagement. First let us talk about the Gamification part:
Leaderboard: This one works as a great tool to show an individual his relative ranking in comparison with his peer group on the basis of some pre-defined parameters or KPI. One can check his rank at different geographic levels such as national, regional or state level. Not only that, he should also be able to find out what are the KPIs where is he lacking so that he can focus on those areas and improve his overall rank.
Badging / Levels: This works on absolute performance (not peer comparison) of the individual and by rewarding him with new badges or promoting to new level on achievement of significant milestone. For example, a sales person will collect one badge when he makes 20 productive calls in a week and another badge if his order value for the week is more than ‘X’ amount. They will also keep on accumulating points for achieving certain targets and attain new levels as the accumulated point crosses certain threshold. These ‘pseudo-promotions’ generate healthy competitions within the team.
Share your work: This concept is more like social media posts and works quite well for visual merchandising programs. Let your SFA solution provide a platform for your field team to share the good work they have done in terms of store display or campaign placement or something else. And let everyone else (including the senior management as well) ‘like’ the work shared by field team. It will bring a great sense of belongingness within the field team and start using the SFA app to get the spotlight on them.
Chat with peer and team: There cannot be a better tool to collaborate within the team than ‘Chat’. Everyone will feel always being connected and part of a team rather than being an individual contributor. Sales person can get in touch with their supervisors quickly if they face any issue and get immediate course correction.
Now let us talk about the second category which we are calling as Enabler.
Making important reports available in the app: The team on field would hate to call someone and get an update on their performance or sales data or visit details. They would off-course want to see all important information related to their performance in the app itself as and when they want. We cannot expect them to blindly keep on entering the data in the SFA app unless the same information is transparently available to them.
Documents in the app: A sales person carries hard copy of lot of documents (such as product catalog, price list, brand history etc.) with them. Think how much they will love the SFA app if all these documents are available in the app itself and they can show it to the retailer just by a touch. Not only that, even training videos or any other important documents can be made available in the app, sales team is bound to realize how their life is becoming easier by using the SFA tool.
Making retailer information available in the app: Sales calls must be highly personalized depending on the person you are interacting with. Same holds true for a sales person who is making a sales pitch to the retailer. The more information about the retailer is available with him, better off he is. Information such as average order value, total gross sales, previous three order history etc. of the retailer can help the sales team immensely during their sales call.
Push Notifications: When you are dealing with a large sales team and want to broadcast a very important piece of information, there can’t be a better option than sending notifications through the SFA solution. Off-course one can debate why not Whatsapp, the problem comes when you have to send out certain information only to the users of a particular state or let’s say to those working for modern trade outlets. This is where audience segmentation of push notification recipients comes handy.
While this is definitely not an exhaustive list, but if your SFA solution can provide these features mentioned above, your problem related to employee engagement and SFA adoption is largely taken care of.