If you are an FMCG company, chances are that you have already experimented with a sales force automation solution or are actively considering going down that route. After all, the FMCG sector has been a pioneer in adopting sales force automation solution, and consequently, the SFA players have also adapted their products to cater to most of the standard FMCG use cases and scenarios. You may also be aware that more than 50% SFA implementations fail. While there are several reasons that can be attributed to this failure, some of the more prominent ones are lack of clarity on why SFA is required, absence of a skilled program coordinator, poor training and support, and at times, an over-zealous management!
When we talk about Sales Force Automation, almost all of us relate it to what is being predominantly used in FMCG or Beverage industry over last 6-7 years. The general perception that has been built is that an SFA solution is used to manage a geographically dispersed field force in terms of regular outlet visits and activities that they perform in each outlet. Typically, those activities are order capture, sales return, payment collection, POSM deployment, planogram compliance etc. While the conventional SFA has evolved a lot to meet ever changing business dynamics of its client base and to adopt to latest technology innovations, even till date there is not enough traction for an SFA solution from the industries that sell their product/ services in B2B model by deploying sales representatives (or at times called account managers) who are responsible for visiting corporates, institutions, government offices etc. Healthcare, Telecom, Education, Heavy Electrical etc. are few examples of such industries.
An SFA implementation is a two way street. Its success requires the commitment of both the client and the solution provider. The right solution provider will not just sell the solution but take meaningful steps to ensure success of implementation. In a recent post, we wrote about selecting the right SFA partner. Training, on-boarding and initial hand-holding are the common norms of an SFA implementation. Beyond that, one of the things that a good SFA partner does for its partner client is regular monitoring of the health of implementation.
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.
If you are contemplating buying an SFA solution to automate your sales operations, sooner or later you’ll face the dilemma of ‘Whom should I go with?’. With the wave of digitization picking up globally, more and more players are entering the SFA space. How then, do you arrive at the right provider?
The first and foremost thing for you to do is a ‘needs analysis’? Have an understanding of why you need an SFA solution, what is it that you would like to achieve. It is okay to not have the perfect answers, but it is important to have a broad picture keeping long term business objectives in mind.