08th Dec, 2021
, , Designation
It is safe to say that the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic were felt through 2021, and ground reality remains uncertain with business practices not reverting to the old normal. One of the most impacted business processes in the last 2 years has been in-person field sales and marketing. No matter how many digital tools businesses deploy, there will never be a replacement for interacting with someone eye-to-eye and establishing a trustworthy connection. But, as companies seem to unwind from an unprecedented catastrophic event, there are a few questions and challenges that must be addressed.
How can field marketers adapt? How to effectively manage the field sales force in a post-covid marketplace? While there is no blanket solution to restructure every aspect of field marketing, effective and innovative use of sales force automation can provide cut back a few challenges. But before diving into the answers, let’s identify a few common and critical concerns faced by every field sales agency post-covid:
- When to scale up the field operations:This is a big cause of concern for many companies. While some companies started operations in a phased manner once the lockdown norms were eased, some are yet to initiate it or are haphazard in their approach. Which markets should the company target, what would be the frequency of visits, how to prevent infection while on duty? There is a heap of such questions which is manifesting errors and indecisiveness among every company and field force agency.
- Bottlenecks in order booking and fulfilment:A major challenge for companies is how to automate the order booking process when the field sales force cannot visit the distributors/retailers. The manual process creates multiple challenges in terms of no visibility of the order being placed, missed orders, reduced efficiency of the distributors to fulfill the orders, etc.
- Understanding real-time market pulse:Market visits at different seniority levels are crucial to gauge real-time market pulse, particularly in the consumer goods industry. With limited and staggered market visits, companies lose out on a large chunk of information. Information such as market pricing, competitor activity, retailers’ feedback, etc., required for tactical decision-making remains unavailable for the key stakeholders.
- Measuring KPIs:Another critical challenge for businesses is to strategically measure their field sales force KPIs. While a monthly P&L is good enough to measure revenue and profit numbers, the ability of companies to measure the productivity of their field sales force is severely compromised. Furthermore, companies face bottlenecks in analysing markets and identifying which geography, channel, or product category is impacted and needs attention.
Salesforce automation solutions
While an AI-led field force management tool cannot directly revive the dipping sales numbers, it can help enterprises effectively handle their field sales force. It can also provide solutions to many of the abovementioned challenges. Let’s look at a few of those solutions in detail:
- 360-degree communication channel:A robust sales force automation tool can help optimize workflows and provide a unified platform to communicate with the field team. Marketers can automate schedules, send out notifications, share important documents and relevant content to improve conversions. The field team can also capture key market data and share them with relevant stakeholders using the automated platform. Moreover, businesses can even conduct online quizzes to evaluate field force training requirements and arrange online training based on evaluation scores.
- Order collection via telephone:A dynamic sales force application helps automate the entire order placement and fulfilment process using the telephonic order capture module. This feature comes in handy in situations when the field sales executive is unable to visit the outlet physically. The field sales rep can submit telephonic orders in the application, which will directly trigger an email or a WhatsApp message with an order summary to the distributor, ensuring quick fulfilment.
- Data collection and reporting:It is crucial that businesses deploy an analytics-powered sales force automation application for effective data capturing. The tool should have the functionality to create customized survey questionnaires with 360-degree visibility for the field sales force. It will help capture crucial market data such as pricing, competitor activity, new product launches, inventory information, retailer feedback, etc. These surveys must be customized for different levels of sales hierarchy to capture varied information and forge a strong retailer engagement.
- Unleash the full potential of analytics:A cutting-edge field sales management platform integrated with data analytics technology will easily solve the challenges related to measuring KPIs. Enterprises can leverage an analytics-powered salesforce platform to get all kinds of reports or dashboards that can help measure the field marketing KPIs. The platform must be customizable to accommodate new operational and sales metrics and modify existing ones according to changing market dynamics.
Both B2C and B2B field marketing strategies have changed drastically in the last 2 years. Rolling out a field marketing program and managing the health and productivity of the field sales force has been the biggest challenge for businesses worldwide. Businesses face various challenges with their field sales program, including manual processes of order booking and fulfilment, lack of real-time data capture, inability to measure operational and sales KPIs, and more. Going forward, modern enterprises must leverage a unified analytics-led salesforce application to overcome the above challenges and optimize their field operations.
If you are looking for a more in-depth understanding of our Sales Force Automation solutions or want to connect with our technology experts to get advice on the best-fit solutions to match your business requirements, contact us today.
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