Each time we engage with modern-day retailers to evaluate their business requirement for an SFA solution, we face the usual volley of questions that remain their primary challenge-set to effectively manage on-ground field forces. Visibility on secondary sales, optimizing route plans for Sales officers, train the field force such that they are naturally prompted to upsell and cross-sell, orient them to enhance their order booking value while aligning them to their target achievement levels – these are some of the pertinent outcomes most sales managers would like to drive in their sales team. We understand that the idea is to create smart workforces where the order value per salesman per day is an overall function of their focus built across product lines.
A powerful SFA application solution is such a treasure map that guides retail sales teams towards effective sales planning, improved salesman productivity, and better win rates. While augmented revenue cannot be the only measure of an effective sales process, SFA adoption ensures a galvanized sales cycle that facilitates Sales Predictability.
Retail Organizations today realize that automating sales processes is not enough. They understand that in order to leverage the optimum benefits of a sales force automation solution, they need to define the expected outcome adequately. There’s a growing emphasis to deepen understanding of customer relationships. Hence, the true value of SFA lies in translating processes and customer information into revenue – the ultimate metric in sales.
As organizations scale, more and more front-line sellers are added in their sales force to expand coverage area and boost capability often yielding declining returns making it unfeasible for many industries already struggling with resource constraints. Such trends are forcing Sales leaders to rethink newer techniques to sell more. Retail enterprises, in the wake of dramatically improving customer experience, realize that technological interventions in sales operations will lead to a significant increase in sales productivity and sustained improvement in revenues.
Different organizations adopt different sales strategies to generate higher revenue and profits. Sales representatives can sell more per deal or close each sale in lesser time, selling higher to existing customers or create newer customer segments, focus only on high probability deals – effective SFAs tie the tool implementation for specific strategies. As long as outcomes are specified, it is just a matter of identifying the appropriate technique to achieve the same. Organizations therefore must keep in mind that SFA is to be dealt with as a means to an end only and not an end in itself.
An intelligent sales forecast is a major highlight of an SFA application. Using better sales forecasts or analytical techniques can drive an organization’s view of current and desired sales activities. As rightly described in a recently published international business journal, SFA Apps are therefore considered as a “competitive imperative” that is widely adopted in business environments today. It offers a number of quantitative processes to field representatives and sales managers to predict sales and improve revenues.
Walking the SFA process is a prerequisite for any organization planning on deploying the solution. Here are some quick recommendations that must be considered/followed to leverage the most out of the same:
- Initiate every SFA project with a clear understanding of the expected goals/results to be achieved as a result of deploying the solution
- Understand how well can you save time on sales tasks through SFA and build on those handoff points.
- Less is always better for sales – the more retail time in hand, the higher is the propensity to enhance sales. Provide the right level of reporting and a user-friendly interface such that compliance standards are met and drives higher adoption by the sales reps respectively.
- Basic and accurate sales information must flow as part of the sales process and the SFA application. An effective sales process implies controlling the sales cycle. Hence, forecasting or sales predictability should be a by-product of the process
Good sales managers already have an innate sense of performance levels and issues. Sales technology can only act as a catalyst for improving sales predictability. A powerful SFA solution is therefore an enabler that translates adopted sales techniques to identified outcomes strengthening overall salesman efficiency, deal size, sale cycle time, customer retention levels, and revenue predictability.