The best couple in the industry – Salesman and his mobile phone

We talk about how good relationship with clients nurtures the business. We educate our sales team on how to establish a relationship first. While talking of relationships there is one such relationship in the business-world that has got least of all credit for all the big things that they have let businesses achieve. It is the crazy connection of employees with  mobile phones. And if you are into sales you would know that this relationship we are talking about is very deep. We may even tacitly agree that it is impossible for a sales person to live without his or her smart phone.

The main question is- are business owner doing enough to contribute to this relationship?

If we look closer, good relationship of salesmen with their mobile phone is congenial to business development. Talking from the business perspective, we have hardly come across a couple so meaningful. They are like the team-mates in action for an organization with big responsibilities.

Just like any other relationship, the right balance is very crucial for salesmen as well. And here we talk about the elements that will enrich this relationship within the boundaries of business mostly in form of mobile application.

If we study the official hours in a salesman’s life, we would find 3 elements that can help a salesman to achieve uber productivity.

  1. Note taking or reminder application
  2. Scanning application, OCR, Bar code scanner etc
  3. Email, proposal and invoice app

These elements cover the different aspect of a salesman life at work.

Organizations that have understood these elements and closely focused on sales process have understood that mobiles have the potential to increased the efficiency of salesmen and hence organization. These organizations have taken this relationship seriously and made sure to give a fresh touch to it.

Some of the serious organizations have introduced salesmen application imbibing these 3 elements into one super-efficient mobile app and latched it to their business software. These applications help their salesmen to easily access client’s information, view their request and carry out full-fledged sales operation.

It is important to understand that the true salesman app can work alongside the day of a salesman. Be it attendance, route planning, order booking, client reminder, travel expense, notes taking, invoicing, demonstrating product presentation, customer visits, new customer entry, customer feedback etc. To get the real juice out, the application must be integrated with business software to give a total new dimension to business processes.

There have been instances where the order to delivery process got an efficiency-boost of 94.6%. A business order that took 36 hrs to reach to final client was delivered within 2.5 hrs.

Stock audit process could finally be regularized when sales team and their smart phones got into action.

Not only that, sales team could generate intelligence based on reports of such sales application that they could cover wider geographies to establish their business.

We will be going inside all these case studies in our subsequent post.

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TED talks to inspire you after a bad sales day

Sales in all sense is a dynamic profession. No other profession gives an opportunity to a professional to juggle between the highs and lows in life like sales. A good sales man is one who has cracked the funda of keeping oneself on toes no matter how difficult a loss of sales opportunity was.

Here are some TED talks that are sure to pump you up and keep you in perspective after a setback.

“The key to success? Grit” by Angela Lee Duckworth

 

Have you believed that success is direct in proportion with IQ and your talent?  Well psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth would like to disagree. She found out that “grit” is the element that determines an individual’s success.

Here is a 6 minute power punch talk to get your GRIT quotient high.

“A kinder, gentler philosophy of success” by Alain de Botton

 

How to get your success and failure into perspective – Writer and philosopher Alain Botton will help you focus on what really matters.

So if you are re-accessing yourself after a single fall then this talk is going to prevent the snowballing effect of your failure.

 

 

“Embrace the near win” by Sarah Lewis

 

No one knows the frustration of a drop sale at the very end moment better than a sales person. Your client was about to sign the deal but then he suddenly decides to hold it back.

Art critic Sarah Lewis has a different take on it. She argues how these near-win scenarios chalk out the master-skill within you. She says how these near wins remove the complacency that often success brings into life.

 

Let us know your how you feel about the talks and share with us what you do to beat your set-back

3 Myths that restricts Small Businesses Grow

There is a typical trait of small businesses – they eke out sustainability by cutting costs and overhead in the name of optimization. This helps them to get an immediate relief from certain expenses but that does not tame the root cause. At times small businesses starve itself by this regular act of cost optimisation.

Here we will take on 3 myths that prevail in small business that leads them to take unyielding decisions.

  1. The Myth that technology is an over kill – Anything that disrupts the normal flow of operation is scary. This is much scarier for small businesses. Even when the change or disruption is for betterment, it is difficult for small business to imbibe due to the lack of training, or limited capability of work force etc. To immediately resolve this disruption small business rolls backs any change done for betterment. This mindset inhibits them to scale up the business. When the time comes and they find that embracing technology is the only way forward, it may be too late for small business to transform.
  2. The Myth of Predicting the pattern – Small businesses are mostly owner driven businesses and hence decision making is a quick process. A lot of the “quick” part is also the attribute of the culture of ignoring data. As human nature we predict pattern, and is also true in businesses. We predict pattern based on some recent influence and take decisions.The challenge comes when we have to take strategic steps. Small businesses would again go by predicting patterns without referring to data. A lot is to be blamed to the mindset where we thing these data driven process implementation are costly and meant for big businesses only. We fail to understand that without data we miss out on understanding our customers. The fact is data solutions are now charged in “per use” basis or SAAS model that makes the implementation of such processes affordable.
  3. The Myth of the Golden Era –  When the going gets tough then the tough gets us going. But when the going gets comfortable then the comfort impedes the growth. This is something that goes well with businesses as well. This is called the Golden Era when small businesses find the sales are moving good and the profit margin is high and customers are coming effortlessly. And then there is tendency to believe that this Golden Era is permanent. The fact is that in today’s era   change is itself the ecosystem. And when we start believing that this golden era is going to stay forever we make the biggest mistake.

The Golden era gives us an opportunity to invest on the customer. While businesses strive to sustain the current tough times, the Golden era lets us do more – to focus on future. One can plan to get to new geographies, or start a new line, or widen the effective reach, invest in technology, customer profiling, etc.

Businesses that put their effort into growth during good times are the one that can sail through the tougher times.

 

Image: http://theparttimeentrepreneur.com/

Small Businesses: Knowing and Acting in advance are the Big Differentiators

There is a myth that data systems are required only for big businesses. This myth is given credence by the further myth that these systems are expensive and only for big businesses who can afford them. True? No, nothing can be more False!

Small businesses have few customers in a localised geography. They sustain their business through personalised customer service and customised business practices. They eke out sustainability by cutting costs and overheads, in the hope that one day the business situation will improve…….

Nothing is further from the truth. Markets and customers are constantly changing and to know and act in advance are the big differentiators. A business that stays nimble to these changes and trends continues to succeed and thrive. The “strategic enabler” to stay on top of the market is data and the eco system that goes with it.

Knowing about your customers and analysing the same is the key to progress. The analyses can reflect market and customer trends, competitor behaviour, sensitivity to new products and promotion ideas. This in turn results in focussing the sales efforts, service & promotion packages, and indeed the very way to do business!

Many businesses have benefitted from the collection and analyses of customer level data – who is buying, when are they buying, how are they buying, from where are they buying, how much are they buying are all the building blocks to an analyses of how to serve them better than competitors.

There is also a compelling need to spread the risk and get more customers. We all know how having many customers is less risky than only a few! The more geographies a business is present in, the more the opportunity to grow and succeed. If one area does badly, some other makes up for it.

All this requires a sales force backed by a sales system to collect and analyse the data. A sales force automation system does just this. From tracking the sales effort by location, to tracking customer purchase behaviour to keeping tabs on their inventory of our and competitive products, competitive promotion activities and much more, a sales automation system can become the back bone of effective sales planning and implementation.

The data so collected helps in the following ways:

  1. It manages the front end sales effort so that it is not wasted and focussed effectively
  2. It helps determine the strategic issues with sales and distribution – where to focus, how to focus and what are the triggers which result in growing sales?
  3. It helps determine the future actions required by way of products, services and strategies that will effectively help the business grow.

Is all this very cumbersome and expensive? No.

With technology, all this has been made affordable on a “pay as you use” model. Expensive hand  -held devices have been replaced by entry level smart phones, expensive infrastructure has been replaced by cloud based data management and complex data management have been replaced with simple dash boards and analytics.  What is interesting is that not just numbers, but pictures, opinions, sentiments and emotions can all be managed now and virtually in real time! At the click of a button one can update and analyse as of now!

This power of Now which is unleashed permits businesses to take complex decisions in a more objective manner and with far reaching implications. Sales force automation is at the heart of this eco system which collects and transmits the data from customers and markets on a real time basis. A MIS layer sits on top of this data and generates dash boards for Monitoring & Control, Planning and Review and Strategic insights. A further Analytics layer uses these insights in models to provide the business with support for present and future decisions.

Nothing can be better than the power of knowledge, having it now and at a small cost! That’s the opportunity and the promise that is fulfilled by having a sales automation system………..

 

Image: https://davidandrewhunt.files.wordpress.com

3 traits of small businesses that make them Big

Businesses fight and compete each and every day. Small businesses can feel this intensity much more than the larger ones. At times they either succumb to these challenges or shine brighter.

Here we see what traits of a small business that let them churn profitable outcome from these challenges.

Investing in Technology – Small businesses master the skill of personalized customer service. They understand that their business can sustain bigger competitors with higher customer satisfaction. The small businesses with acute acumen are the one who understands that they have to build up a technology eco system. They understand that technology will be their enabler to keep the customer services personalized.

Decision based on Data – In general the small businesses believe that the data systems are expensive. A bigger belief is that these systems are only meant for big businesses. Data driven processes are strategic enabler. Analysing data reveals about your customers. They reflect market and customer trends, competitor behaviour, sensitivity to new products and promotion ideas. This in turn results in

  • Greater focus in the sales,
  • Polishing services &
  • Marketing ideas that work with their customers

And these efforts are indeed the pathway to get your business to the next level.

Investing on Customer –Is any of the questions giving you sleepless nights? –

  • who is buying my products
  • when are they buying
  • how are they buying
  • from where are they buying
  • how much are they buying

For the answers you need customer level data. The best way to get that is to have a sales force backed by a sales system. The data from your sales system will help you to understand the efforts that are being put by your sales team in different locations and for different products or product categories.

Definitive sales strategies are also an outcome of well implemented sales system. It helps small businesses to understand the strategic issues like where to focus and what can trigger better sales outcome.

To conclude, technology has penetrated to every level of business. Pay per use and SAAS models have made it affordable. Customization has gone to a level where one does not have to worry about their business modulus operand. And to top it all, entry level hand held devices are both powerful and affordable that fits in business scenarios. And that makes it possible for small businesses implement technologies in their processes

Let us know what you consider the trait of prosperous small business in the comment section below.

 

Image: http://www.greenhotelier.org/

Pull business situations: the Seeds of Myopia

The other day we had a conversation where a sales person told me that he had called on a customer who said that he did not need any systems because for his products “line lagke maal bikta hain” and demand was constantly growing……..

This is a great situation for any business to be in – to have such loyal and repeat customers that whatever is produced is sold and like “hot cakes”. Unfortunately, this is also where the problem starts. The business believes that this situation will last forever. Then, one day comes when the market forces change and things turn out to be quite different! The issue is not with the market place, it is with the business and how it responds!

The annuls of Marketing are replete with examples of how companies of not just local scale but global scale have perished because of just this – ready examples come to mind : from the American Railroad industry in the 1920s to Blackberry and Nokia more recently ……….nearer home, Ovaltine &  Murphy radio to Vimal, Weston and Fiat……….

The underlying truth is that no business is insured against competition – the more Intellectual property there is, the longer it takes to copy! Hence the longevity of Apple, Intel and Amazon!

A Pull business situation is the right time to invest in customer centricity, innovation and market expansion – if you don’t do it quick and well enough, someone else will!

The opportunity is to invest in customer centricity and market expansion since there are cash flows besides making the business more and more efficient and passing on the benefit to customers – these are the only ways to stay ahead. By doing this consistently, the business acquires the wherewithal to become the “market maker” rather than a “follower”.

The need to put in a sales force and reach out to newer customers and newer geographies is paramount. The benefits are many but most of all, de-risking the business by spreading the customer base. In addition, a sales force has the ability to be the “eyes and ears” of the business and pick up trends from the market place and explore newer horizons “out there”. Today there are a plethora of products and services which help to manage the sales effort more strategically and hence make it more effective – sales force automation is one of them.

Sales force automation systems help to manage the sales and distribution effort not just operationally but indeed at the strategic level. It helps, whether the business is direct to customers/ dealers or is channel based; whether in Push or Pull market conditions; whether for localised or well spread out businesses. Fundamentally the modus operandi shifts from perception based sales management to one that is data based!

The Data helps in focussing a customer centric sales system, provide information about customer behaviour, sensitivity to promotional inputs, intelligence about what the market trends are like, competitor activities etc etc, all of which are going to be increasingly critical in the emerging business scenario.

In conclusion, there is much more need for data based management approach to Sales and distribution in all business situations and automated data based systems is going to be an important ingredient in staying ahead of the market.

 

Image – http://www.ai-media.tv/

Selling – Science or Art

“Most people like to buy – very few people like to be sold”

Let’s be a customer before being a sales person. Every purchase a consumer makes is out of a need or finds a perceived value in the product or service. Your purchase is based on a logic which you have defined and finally you make the decision. This is when YOU BUY.

When you are sold you are made to look into a product as a need and then you tend to find out, in course of time if that purchase was worthwhile.

Basically that defines the kind of salesmen we meet. Salesmen who understand the product and salesmen who understand the customer.

Jeff Thull, CEO and president of Prime Resource Group made complete sense when he said, – “Solution-based selling just doesn’t work. The solutions offered by most companies fail to deliver real value for a variety of reasons. Unless you can define, address and connect with value on your customers’ terms, you lose.”

The main question is what kind of salesperson make customers buy.

  1. Salesmen who understands the market
  2. Salesman who understand the customer’s customer
  3. Salesman who can associate the value of the product

Selling is as professional occupation as a profession can get. This can be understood by the fact that selling is not a one time job. Let’s pull out an example from retail.

  • Example: What about delivering a product to your customer by identifying that he is about to exhaust it.

This is a kind of sales-in-action in retail sector. A simple thing like stock auditing can help you find when customers need just in time to get ready with your stocks to deliver them.

Data and the use of data to drive sales is what actually drive sales for an organization. Here is when the science comes. Science makes selling a procedure that intern build the selling culture in the organization.

These data helps sales person to make their customers buy rather than making them feel that product is sold.

We may at times tag a tool based selling as science; for example using CRM (customer relationship management). CRM is good for listing but fails to deliver what we call a process based selling. Technology when used for selling must target to first bring ease to consumers before it brings ease to salesperson. We would be going in depth regarding this.

 

An organization and salesperson must evolve to using the science that lies behind selling. And the art of selling lies in doing the science religiously.

In the coming articles we will closely look at the markets, consumers, salesman, sales process and technology that brings the synergy between them.

 

Image Credit – https://i-lab.harvard.edu/ 

 

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