The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has always relied on the power of brands to strengthen consumer relationships and drive sales. But in today’s environment, technology has empowered consumers to take control of that relationship. The internet, improved connectivity, smart mobile devices and great consumer-centric apps have created a situation whereby a consumer can make more informed decisions within seconds, wherever they are at the time. Which means their loyalty is easily won or lost.
Increasing the productivity of sales teams is a challenge for all sales-driven organisations. Over the years we’ve seen some fantastic tools, processes and innovations that improve both individual and team performance but the role of a sales rep is becoming ever more difficult. And anyone in a sales role is sure to agree with me!
This is where new technology like smartphones and tablets can help. Enterprise grade business applications can deliver all the information a sales rep needs whilst on the move, at the touch of their fingertips.
In fact, before writing this blog I ran a quick poll with our own sales reps to see what they thought was the one thing that enabled them to be more productive in recent years. The answer was resoundingly consistent – their mobile phone!
So, here are my four tips to help you increase sales productivity:
Consumers use smartphones and tablets in almost every aspect of their lives, so why shouldn’t CPG organisations equip their sales people with the same capabilities? For people out in the field, access to data and information is critical to success and access to CRM on the move is a no-brainer. But how about a dashboard on a tablet that pulls in data from a variety of sources and makes it easily viewable on just a few screens? Sales people need to act fast and have the ability to not only access customer, product, sales, delivery and consumer information on a mobile device but to update it too is one way to empower them to perform better. For sales managers too this capability is invaluable. No longer would they have to wait for their teams to update the CRM when they are back home or in the office. And by making it easy to use through drag-and-drop functionality sales people will be less likely to put CRM admin to the bottom of their to-do list.
Current sales dashboards are simply not thinking big enough. This is the age of big data and the insights available by successfully combining multiple data from multiple sources are too powerful to ignore. Especially if you can develop a comprehensive understanding of not only what has happened but what is happening now and predictions for what will happen in the future. A few simple charts on sales figures, forecasts, team performance, and leading individuals are great but what if you could have more? What if you could see the top performing products by region and retailer, as well as combining it with a profile of the consumers who buy them? As a sales person, the value of walking into a meeting with a key retail customer armed with this type of information is simple – more sales.
Sure, everyone has a lot of data but making it easy to understand is just as important as collecting it in the first place. Analytics today need to be simple to view, easy to update and fast to load. A sales person in the field doesn’t have the time to trawl through endless spread sheets searching for the insight in a maze of numbers. They need visual insights – charts, pictures and graphs that make insights easy to spot and drag-and-drop functionality that enables them to update insights for exactly the level of detail that they need at the time. They also need to know, at the touch of a screen, who they are meeting, when they last spoke and what the key topics of discussion should be – failing to prepare is preparing to fail but time is all too often a barrier to preparation. Make it easier for sales to prepare and prepare for more sales.
Head to the cloud
Cloud storage and services is another important feature of sales enablement in the CPG sector. Hosting data and analytics in the cloud not only makes businesses more cost-effective in the long-run it also ensures that data is transferred quickly to people out in the field and that there is no issue with collecting and analysing vast volumes of information. The ability to choose a partner with cloud capabilities also saves on implementation time, meaning that your sales team can be up and running in a matter of a few months, not years.
And to conclude…
I’m going to add one more thought to this vision, and that’s collaboration. Collaboration is key to running an efficient sales team. Whether it’s sharing notes or updating customer information across a team, or an Account Manager looking their boss in the eye and justifying the week’s sales forecast. Mobile devices coupled with powerful analytics and enabled by Cloud create opportunities for collaboration like never before. Today it’s possible to create a multi-faceted collaboration engine right inside your Sales App, allowing information, images and conversations to be supported without switching devices or shifting gears.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post – and please add your comments so we can continue the discussion. We have also produced a report which explores this topic in more detail if you want to know more.
Download our new report ‘Empower CPG sales with big data, analytics and mobility’ here
Find out more about our solutions for sales professionals here