Sales Force Automation solutions, initially pioneered by a few large FMCG companies, have now caught the imagination of a large number of small and medium enterprises across industries. The adoption of Sales Force Automation (SFA) solutions is now faster than ever before. Along this journey, more and more SFA solution providers have entered the market. Sales Force Automation itself has evolved and expanded into quite a wide topic – with different use cases and many different possibilities. Accordingly, now, the large number of SFA players in the market are generally equipped with some of the many different things that an SFA solution can possibly offer. Despite SFA entering this new realm of possibilities that look to maximize how it can benefit team productivity and the company in general, large number of companies are still confined to a very traditional and narrow use case of SFA – attendance and sales management.
Based on our experience, it would not be a stretch to apply Pareto Principle here - only 20% of the companies are leveraging 80% of SFA capabilities. Granted that attendance and sales capture were at the very foundation of SFA evolution, yet it is now time to explore SFA beyond capturing sales numbers. We understand that many small and medium enterprises are new to SFA and are still taking baby steps towards SFA implementation. In a recent post, we explored how incremental steps could actually lead to SFA success. Yet, we believe it is important for companies to know and understand the breadth of SFA possibilities and plan to include, or at the least, explore these possibilities to maximize the benefits for the team and the company. We touch upon a few of these benefits/features that are simple, easy to implement and can add significant value to your SFA initiative.
- Sales enablement through enhanced Product Knowledge – Sales enablement is no longer a buzzword, rather it is quickly starting to become a guiding principle within organizations. How do you enable your last mile rep to sell better? One of the key aspects is Product Knowledge. As the adage goes, ‘Knowledge is Power’. There is no debating the fact that better product knowledge can contribute to increased sales. However, in-person product trainings are both time and resource intensive and hence it is not possible to do them frequently. Many SFA solutions today offer the functionality to upload documents and videos. This feature can be leveraged to solve the in-person training dilemma by uploading Product or Training collateral onto the SFA solution – this simple step has a team-wide reach and has the potential to empower the sales person with the requisite knowledge to have more fruitful sales calls or meetings. This also provides the sales rep the flexibility to access the relevant content as and when they need it.
- Quizzes to assess sales proficiency/ product knowledge – Another key aspect of enabling your sales rep is to assess how proficient your sales rep is across a variety of parameters – from selling tactics to product knowledge to daily visit hygiene. Such assessments can serve two purposes – A) They can be an effective way to identify individuals who need more focused training/coaching. B) They also offer an opportunity to the organization to assess the sales reps through a lens other than just their sales numbers. This is important because, at times, there can be extraneous factors to poor sales numbers.
Many SFA solutions offer this capability. To get the best results, each quiz should be simple, focused and open for a limited duration.
- Competitor Information – A great way to stay ahead of your competition is to capture competitiors’ information from the market. This is especially important in industries such as FMCG and Electronics where many players are locked in an intense competition for a share of the pie. A good SFA solution offers the flexibility to capture ad-hoc data. This can be leveraged to capture relevant inputs w.r.t. your competition – e.g. Competitors’ share of shelf, top selling products, schemes, branding availability, BTL activities etc. Such inputs are hugely relevant not only for the sales team but also for the marketing or strategy team. Capturing these inputs in real time often enable swift decision making, thus giving you a good leg up as you look to stay ahead of your competition.
- Consumer Insights – ‘Consumer is king’ may well have turned into a cliché, but it is true that the consumer’s opinion plays a big role for brands when working on several aspects such as product differentiation, pricing, new product launch etc. This is why another great way to leverage the ad-hoc data capturing capability of an SFA solution is to use it for the last mile rep to capture consumer feedback about the company’s products or those of its competitors. A good example can be that of a BTL sampling activity in which an in-store sales rep can capture the consumer feedback for a new product. Another example can be that of an FMCG sales rep seeking consumer’s insights on their preferred brand. Such initiatives can often be run in a targeted manner and need not be implemented across the team.
- Gamification – In simple terms, gamification is the application of game elements such as points, badges and leaderboards to regular activities. Gamification has proved to be a fun and engaging way of driving a learning or competitive initiative. Gamification powered applications see increase in engagement by more than 30% compared to traditional applications. That is why a few SFA companies have already introduced gamification into their solution while others can be expected to follow suit. In SFA, gamification can be leveraged in areas such as sales, product knowledge, reporting compliance etc. By designing leaderboards around these areas and incentivizing them, a company can provide added incentive to its last mile rep. A team leaderboard can bring added motivation to your sales rep – as triumph will equal instant social recognition. Therefore, gamification can be a great way to boost overall usage and user engagement.
The above are some of the commonly applicable benefits that a company stands to gain by exploring the non-traditional areas of the SFA spectrum. As SFA continues to evolve with the evolving needs of businesses, one can expect to see more and more new avenues and use cases open up.