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

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