#thinkSFAthinkFA 27 Nov 18

Welcome to the 2000s. Think papers, lots of papers, QR code scanning, sales reps spending hours and hours filling in paper work. Welcome to the past of the SFA App. Sales force automation has evolved over the last few years. But how did it come to being in the very first place? And what does the future look like?

History

The sales force automation app was initially created to allow upper management to track and monitor the activity of sales reps. The idea of order booking, digital DSRs was not something that was welcomed with open arms. The focus primarily was to authenticate the sales reps visits to the store. However, as time passed and management gained trust in the system, they became more open to digitizing sales activities.

With this era of digitizing one of the first features that came into being was order booking. Previously, sales reps would manually write orders down on paper. This led to inconsistent data, lost information and a waste of time. The switch to digital has a few advantages:

Reduced errors

Manually entering information can lead to errors which in turn leads to incorrect and duplicated orders. Moreover, information is available at the click of a button meaning no more misplaced files.

Increased Productivity

Giving your sales team this technological advantage not only lets them and the organization save time, but also lets them focus on sales, order delivery status, schemes and more (what they’re hired for)! So your sales team is more focused on sales goals versus fulfilling administrative tasks. Additionally, access to data in the field provides sales teams with a huge advantage.

The shift from the pen and paper method has lead to the entire order processing taking 3-4 minutes versus the previous 3-4 days.

Along with digitizing the process of order booking, companies also started warming up to the idea of more features to help make smarter sales decisions.

The Present – BI in SFA App

With the evolution in technology, the increased use of Whatsapp, more android phones in the market, came more opportunity. Sales Force Automation leveraged this and translated it into providing users with actionable real-time insights, monthly and daily sales reporting as well as detailed sales analytics.

Mr Rajesh Garg, MD, Priniti Foods states, “I strongly recommend businesses to adopt SFA (Sales Force Automation) in their business. The solution will certainly drive growth and numbers gradually. Going further, we would like to see features such as expiry date tracking and inventory management and other such features at the distributor point being plugged in the FieldAssist solution. There are brilliant features on retailing that should be used optimally. With few modifications, many milestones in retailing can be achieved.”

An important aspect of the SFA App that goes beyond analytics and reporting is merchandising. Brand visibility plays a huge role in the FMCG retail market. Sales force automation has also evolved to allow for tracking and optimizing visual merchandising, POSM deployment and such.

The Future – AI in SFA App

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere! Sales Force Automation is no exception. The goal of AI in sales force automation is to achieve the following:

  • Contextual information being pushed out when it’s needed
  • Optimizing and streamlining sales processes

Some of the features that define the future of Artificial Intelligence in SFA App include:

Footplan

This essential feature helps in route optimization allowing for sales reps to plan their day more effectively. It tells the field force the different shops/beats they should take that will allow them maximize sales and productivity.

Planogram Compliance

Planogram compliance is one of the most essential components of the retail industry. It helps in ensuring that the right merchandise is in the right place at all times. An effective planogram compliance helps maximize margins and sales with the end goal of increasing profitability. The retail audit aspect of the SFA App will ensure that these processes are streamlined.

Product Recommendations

As the term suggests, this feature would provide sales reps with recommendations for products that are doing well and should be prioritized. The use of AI in sales force automation will especially help understand user and buying behavior and therefore make order recommendations accordingly.

Conclusively, sales force automation has been around for a while. But truth is, it’s not going anywhere. The evolution from simple tracking to AI infused recommendations is revolutionizing organizations everywhere, big or small, especially in the FMCG sector.

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