Importance of shelf presence of your products in retail outlets doesn’t need much explanation, at least for fast moving consumer goods. Those which are visible to customers will get sold, as simple as that. As a brand owner, answers to some pertinent questions must be available with you always and real-time. For example, do you have enough real estate? Is someone else occupying your property? Is the space prominent enough to grab customer attention? Are you getting the share of shelf you deserve? And many more...
When you are planning to roll-out a Sales Force Automation solution to monitor retail execution of your brand(s), you are more or less sure about the activities of the sales team that you want to automate. In all likelihood, you have also thought about a mobile app workflow and try to evaluate the vendors basis that. Many of the features are already available in every run-of-the-mill SFA solution available in the market. For example, if you want to automate end-to-end secondary order placement process for your sales team, you would need following features: Order Capture, Suggested Order Quantity, Distributor Stock Visibility, Order Fulfilment, Sales Return & Payment Collection. Well, this is more or less a standard workflow and you will get almost all of them in 80% of the SFA products.
Over last few years, implementing Sales Force Automation (SFA) for the field sales or merchandising team has become so common across different industries that it hardly needs any effort to get the nod from CEO or CFO to go ahead with such an implementation. Vendor selection, go-live, training, adoption drive everything goes as per the plan and everyone is happy to have one checkbox ticked against the innovation list for that year. However, some difficult but very pertinent questions pop up after few months when things settle down. What are we getting out of it? Whatever we are getting, is it enough to justify the ongoing recurring cost? Are we even tracking right set of parameters to measure the effectiveness?
For decades, SFA implementations have had a higher failure rate than most other types of enterprise software. As per some leading industry research analysts, the failure rate is staggeringly high at 60%. Ironically, root cause of these failures is not related to hardware or software issue or anything related to the system performance. Rather, most SFA failures are result of a very human problem – low adoption rate. Some research paper says that average adoption rate of SFA implementations running for at least a year is around 50% and there are many instances where adoption rate is less than 10% even a year after the launch.
Importance of a Sales Force Automation solution in any sales organization is no longer a topic to be debated on. Be it a large team or a smaller one, companies have either already adopted an SFA solution or in the process of doing so. It’s a no brainer that if implemented rightly, it not only enhances productivity of the sales team, but also provides major input for many strategic decisions to be taken up by the company.