Business Insights 26 Dec 18 Paramdeep Singh

I went in for a meeting with a potential client a couple of days ago. As per usual, we discussed business, automation, digitization, families and lots more. When I reached to the point where we began discussing sales force automation, I heard something interesting – “Our sales guys will run away”. This is just one of the many things I end up hearing when it comes to companies refraining from adopting sales force automation. Every time I hear something of this sort, I’m eager to make a change in that very mindset. Sales process automation has always faced some resistance. It happens at different levels. Sometimes, it’s the upper management that doesn’t think the change is something that will go along with the “company culture”, while other times, the on field sales reps show resistance. Either way, this results in companies stringing along to old and traditional methods that involve tons of paperwork and therefore reduced productivity and profits.

Some of the most common reasons companies struggle with adopting sales force automation are:

Acceptance

A lot of times the management worries about if change is something that would be accepted with open arms by the company. Sales force automation software is often mistaken to be a policing tool rather than an automation tool by some. This creates a resistance, especially amongst sales reps, who think they’re being tracked 24×7. Further, this makes upper management think that introducing a new tool like that, might cause their staff to “run away”, and therefore some times they’d choose to stick to manual methods. It’s important for the company and the SFA partner to foremost build trust and acceptance amongst the field sales team. It’s important to thoroughly delve into the what, why and how of sales force automation with sales reps and to explain to then how they can benefit from it.

Learning Curve

Another factor that plays an important role in the decision to adopt the SFA App is the fear that it might be rather difficult to use. Switching from manual methods that allowed sales reps to record activities, sales and such on their own to a completely new mobile application may seem jarring at first. This especially plays a role, since India, being extremely diverse consists of people that speak different languages, come from different parts of country, each of which differ in their use of technology. The important thing to keep in mind in this case is partnering with a sales force automation software company that provides thorough training and caters to its audience. The questions in these trainings vary from, “What if I don’t have enough data or storage?” or even “what if my phone dies?” While questions like these might seem relatively minute, they’re what will drive the field sales to use the product. Education truly is empowerment. The right partner can empower it’s field sales team to make the right decisions not just for the company but also themselves like finding the right incentives, optimizing beat routes and lots more.

Recognizing a need

“Itne saalo se yahi use karte aa rahein hain, business toh sahi chal raha hai, ab kya zarurat hai”. This translates to, “We have been using the same methods for years if not decades, our business is doing just fine, why the need now?”. The Indian FMCG market has been alive and thriving for many, many years. This means a lot of businesses have been around for that much time too. A lot of times, it’s the mindset that needs to be changed. Companies have a hard time recognizing the need for automation and digitizing in the moment. It’s only 5-7 years later that they’d realize how much catching up there is to do, and by that time it’ll be too late. The “ As long as something is working, let it work” mindset can potentially be a disaster for recipe.

With ever increasing technological advances and digitization in every aspect it’s important to keep up. This is especially true for the FMCG industry. Consumerism and the new millennial wave is transforming FMCG in the way it hasn’t been before. Some examples of these changing trends include subscriptions formats such as amazon pantry or even dollar shave club. Groceries can be delivered to you in a matter of a few minutes at just the click of a button. More recently, Shuttl, an office bus provider is considering having groceries delivered to the passengers once they board the bus! How it would work is that the passengers interested in ordering will use their app to select everything and anything from milk to shampoo at the beginning of the day. These will then be handed to the passenger on their seats once they board the bus after a long day of work.

This wave of automation is only going to continue to grow and expand meaning there is absolutely no running away from it. The only question is, how soon can the Indian FMCG industry accept and adopt technology and automation with open arms and use it to drive business and revenue.

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Paramdeep Singh

Param is the CEO at FieldAssist. He brings over 12 years of extensive entrepreneurial experience. He is extremely passionate for the FMCG Industry with a focus on technological innovation to drive consumer business outfits, skilfully integrating traditional retail channels with technology solutions that is transforming the face of Sales Force Automation industry in India. He is well known and recognised for leveraged collaborative and distinctive leadership skills.

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