By Jennifer Perillo –
Don’t waste your time with a sales force automation system that is little more than a set of glorified disparate apps or transactional recording systems. Look for a truly integrated mobile sales platform that adds real value to your company by giving you access to management dashboards and high-level metrics that drive revenue and ultimately profits.
A well-designed CPG mobile platform will maximize your company’s sales in many innovative ways, making your field reps far more productive and efficient while simultaneously connecting their activities to the company’s mission-critical processes. Infusing your day-to-day decision-making with powerful analytics and artificial intelligence will allow you to spot trends, identify trouble spots and flag potential growth areas enterprise-wide, all supported by on-the-ground insights from your field team.
Given this potential, here are 10 critical capabilities to look for when considering a sales force automation solution for your enterprise:
- Artificial Intelligence: AI is changing the business world as we know it, allowing corporations of all sizes to scale faster, reach further and manage their operations more closely than ever before. Your sales force automation solution should help you become a data-driven organization that amplifies what you do well while eliminating the factors that are holding you back. By combining the power of Big Data analytics with today’s advanced artificial intelligence, you will achieve better retail execution, see more, learn more and make better informed, far-reaching decisions based on data, not intuition.
- In-Flight Analytics: Data-driven retail analytics is a two-way street. Metrics need to be gathered in the field and sent back to headquarters for analysis. Then, management needs to be able to push instructions and strategies out to field team reps in order to put their decisions into action. A platform that can do both – feed data to management dashboards and then receive direction from the home office – provides insights that can be harnessed immediately by field representatives and their managers to improve results. It should also aggregate metrics across the enterprise to offer a strategic view of your entire sales operation for similar insights.
- Gamification: Gone are the days of enterprise applications being basic, boring versions of their consumer-focused cousins. The best B2B sales apps now use leaderboards, compensation simulations, embedded games and contests to motivate the field force, engaging them just like the most popular B2C apps do. Seeing how other reps are performing is a great motivator, and it makes it easy for management to identify top performers and to help identify peers who need help in specific areas.
- Guided Selling: Field reps should know all of the tasks that must be accomplished during each store visit. The application should guide them through each task and ensure that they complete all activities in the store. This type of sales mapping ensures a consistent process for each type of retail outlet, and reporting can ensure that your entire sales team is delivering on your promise of customer satisfaction at all retail locations. Any sales force automation platform being used in the field also needs to provide reps with true offline capabilities so that the app works seamlessly, regardless of whether it is connected to the Internet.
- Image Recognition: Is your sales force automation platform smart enough to keep up with the constantly changing and evolving retail environment? With retail POS software that allows reps to upload images and identify stock items on a store shelf visually, you don’t have to worry either way. This functionality is useful for competitive analysis, compliance with planograms, promotional agreements, and accurately measuring current stocks and your share of shelf (in much the same way as retail inventory management software).
- Augmented Reality: The use of augmented reality in the CPG industry is growing quickly. This functionality provides field reps with the ability to show customers what a shelf, end-cap, display rack or other point-of-sale item could look like in their outlet. The future of retail execution will heavily rely on tools like augmented reality, and those who lead the pack in implementation will reap the benefit of being ahead of the curve.
- Mobile Surveys: The best retail point-of-sale software enables managers to gather market intelligence and test new promotions by creating on-demand field assessment surveys that reps are directed to complete when they enter specific stores. This information can help you track your results in real time with on-the-ground intelligence that can be difficult, if not impossible, to gather any other way.
- Voice Recognition: Leading retail-management systems now allow field salespeople to use headsets for taking orders or making observations about the store shelf, instead of manually keying in the information.
- Fact-Based Selling: How are you at providing actionable insights to your field reps today? It is one thing to have the insights; it is another to get them into the hands of your team AND make sure they are used. You need a solution that incorporates a mobile collateral sharing tool, easy access to the latest sales data and task checklists with individual action items. The ability to close the loop by tracking the use of your tools is also key to field success since this ensures that your reps are always in compliance.
- Visit Management: The best solutions enable reps to manage store visits on the go, quickly accessing visit status, customer information, customer history and retail analytics for each store. These functionalities are vital to improving the productivity and efficiency of front-line sales teams.
A sales force automation platform should do more than just improve the day-to-day work of your field team. It should help you continuously grow revenue by offering enterprise-level insights into your business – insights that make it easier for you to meet objectives, extend engagement and make smarter decisions across your entire operation.
Spring offers all 10 of these critical features – and more! Explore Spring’s mobile field solution ›
Download The Field Guide to CPG Mobile Apps now for a list of important guidelines that will help your business find the right mobile field app without breaking the bank.