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How far have you come? Retracing the exciting journey of SFA

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Rashmi Kapse

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How far have you come? Retracing the exciting journey of SFA

Picture of Rashmi Kapse
Rashmi Kapse

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When we introduced our SFA products to the FMCG Industry, its initial perception of automation and taking everything digital was different.

The first baby steps of SFA

In the first version of its evolution, SFA got lapped up by retail-oriented companies who were keen to just shift from the ‘pen and paper mode of manually capturing and compiling data, because of 2 major challenges:

Poor data visibility & Inaccuracy

Businesses that had a large sales force were struggling with serious data visibility issues around outlet coverage and SKU penetration across outlets. This concern was compounded by the manual DSRs each sales rep had to maintain for the colossal number of outlets they covered, making the overall data extremely error-prone. We have seen this happen with one of the largest spice manufacturers in India, who found it difficult to manage and optimize the manual secondary schemes across the distribution network because of their sheer size.

Fuzzy View on Sales Channel efficiency

Especially for emerging B2B businesses, there was no clear visibility on beat plans or the actual number and spread of active and dormant outlets. Therefore, companies could monitor neither product performance nor sales team performance very effectively.

How it has grown into a Giant today

In its current form, a sales force automation platform is crammed with features and functionalities that have changed the way companies run their sales organization. The smartphone app, gamification, beat planning, machine-learning-based smart recommendations for product assortment, WhatsApp integration, etc. are now basic expectations for getting actionable real-time insights, monthly and daily sales reporting as well as detailed sales data analytics. Sales force automation has also evolved to allow for tracking and optimizing visual merchandising, POSM deployment, and such.

Read: SFA Vs CRM

The approach towards SFA has therefore also changed from being a pure operations tool to being a strategic solution. As of date, SFA is the largest component of the larger sales technology market, comprising approximately 55% of the overall sales technology market. According to the report by Gartner in 2019, the sales technology or SFA market grew by an estimated 11.1% to $7.8 billion, with almost all the growth coming from cloud-based offerings. 

Despite such encouraging numbers, many Sales Directors and CEOs still remain unconvinced on the ROI that a full-service SFA can give them. So we thought we’d  show you the various streams of tangible ROI that our clients have achieved using our SFA

Tectonic Shift in Team performance

  1. Nearly 3-5 fold increase in productive calls per day.
  2. 60-80% increase in sales productivity with the help of Gamification.
  3. Approximately 20-50% in Start Day adherence by the on-field team.

Greater Outlet Reach and Throughput

  1. 17% improvement in retailer universe by optimizing beat planning
  2. SKU wise market penetration increase by 30- 60% 
  3. 14-20% Increase in Sales due to effective shelf space planning 

Granular Reporting

Flexi trends reports on key metrics like

  1. Sales Volume per Outlet and Drop Size 
  2. Frequency of Purchase & Lines Sold per Productive Call 
  3. Category wise Outlets Performance (Growth & De-Growth) 

On-the-go WFH scalability for Business Continuity

Developed WFH features that 

  1. Allowed their sales teams to punch orders in less than 4 mins during work-from-home.
  2. Helped them reach their retailers and distributors with direct Whatsapp integration
  3. Increased salesman productivity by 35-38% and Outlet Reach by 30%  

Impact on overall business

According to an article published by Gartner in July 2020:

  1. 44% said that the sales team performance report provided by the SFA tool helped them achieve better sales execution. 
  2. 29% said that the data collected via the SFA helped to drive other corporative objectives like revenue management, customer experience monitoring, or strategic business planning. 
  3. 19% quoted that SFA was critical to handle some key sales processes.

What the future holds

It’s surprising even to us just how fast technology evolves every day. In the past year or so, we’ve ourselves built over 5 new product lines and over a dozen module enhancements, because that’s what the market required. To catalyze current adoption and market growth rate, SFA Platforms will need to preempt the future as far as innovation, execution, and usefulness goes. That will require a sustained innovation trajectory with respect to technology implementation and functionality. One way to do that is to bring all offerings across channels under one umbrella to have a greater focus on the entire consumer experience.

The power of One

The Market is currently providing multichannel solutions by giving separate Apps and Dashboards for different functions in the entire supply chain process. We have envisioned a single platform that has all the touchpoints for the client to view everything that is relevant to them without needing to toggle between multiple apps. For eg. with one sales solution,  a Manager will be able to view everything that is relevant to him, from the performance of the salesman, orders received from Retailer & HoReCa, distributor performance, his own Joint Working, retailer grievances, promotions, and store audits. The aim is to unify and bring a digital revolution in the retail industry by providing 360º data-driven analysis.

A comprehensive and integrated unified channel strategy can empower you to compile your data from all channels to determine the best strategy to reach the right customers with the right products on all the right shelves.

SFA is at an exciting place on the evolution curve. As the market dynamics keep changing shape every few months, it is both challenging and exhilarating to keep building SFA solutions that solve retail business problems effectively. 

How has been your SFA journey? Are you still living in the past or are you excited to ride the future bandwagon? Get in touch with us today to know your current SFA health.

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