One of the most important aspect of field team operations is Beat Planning, sometimes referred as PJP (Permanent Journey Plan) also. Be it for your sales executives or merchandisers or any other field employee, an effective beat plan can contribute immensely towards meeting your overall business goals. The bigger the team is, higher is the risk associated with inefficient beat planning. That’s why it plays an even bigger role in case of FMCG and Beverage industry where the field team is not just bigger in size, they also cover almost every inhabited place on the earth.
So, let’s first discuss what benefits a company can get if it has a mechanism to create effective beat plan for the team. Some of the most important points would be as mentioned below:
- Better Productivity: Without any doubt, it improves the productivity of the team by significantly cutting down of the travel time. It will result in more visits per days and more time spent at the outlets or point of sale.
- Cost Optimization: Because of the above, it will cut down on the travel cost as well. And some data says that the total TA/DA cost can be cut down by as much as 50% by adopting efficient beat planning.
- Better Relationship: No one can ignore the role a retailer can play in pushing sales of a brand by influencing the customers. And a retailer will do so only when there is a great rapport that exists between him and the company executive. Thanks to the more time being spent at the outlets, relationship with retailer is bound to improve.
- More Business: As the team has more time to focus on their actual job and they are visiting important outlets more frequently, the impact will be visible in the overall sales data resulting in improved target achievement for the team and overall better business for the company.
- Motivated Employees: Because of all the factors mentioned above, the team is bound to be more motivated which will act as a catalyst to drive the business further.
Let’s now discuss how your prospective SFA solution can help you in achieving all these benefits by offering you options to create a very effective and efficient beat plan. Definitely most of the SFA solutions available today come with Beat Plan creation feature where you can create a beat by assigning outlets to it and then finally assigning beats to individual employees for different dates. However, basis of such approach is either a pre-existing data of beat to outlet mapping or some individual’s personal knowledge about the territory and business potential of outlets. As both of these are very subjective, we have listed down some more robust and authentic approach that your SFA solution must offer:
- Beat Planning using advanced computing and data analysis: With advancement in data computing and availability of powerful statistical softwares, a more structured approach would be to generate beats basis some pre-defined constrains. For example, if your team is asked only to upload entire outlet universe along with GPS coordinates and to enter some configurable constrains such as maximum distance to be traveled per beat, category wise visit frequency per week/fortnight/month, minimum and maximum number of outlets to be covered in each beat, a powerful data computing algorithm can generate optimized beats as per the defined constrains. If your SFA is capable of defining such algorithms, you can be rest assured that your concern related to beat planning is going to be taken care off.
- Map based beat planning: This is a much simpler but highly effective approach to create beat plans. As the GPS coordinates are available in the SFA solution itself, it can throw all the outlets on Google map and show different categories of outlets in different colors for users to quickly identify. Now, by simply selecting an area of the map a user can create efficient beats even if he doesn’t have much knowledge about specific areas.
- Beat plan creation by field team: It’s actually the field team who has the best knowledge about exact location of outlets and business potential from them. If you have full faith on most of your team, you can actually enable them to create their own beat plan from the SFA app itself and the respective supervisors can do a quick review before actually approving the plans. After few iterations, the plans will be optimized and then the approval process can also be eliminated.