Business Lessons 27 Jun 20 Ayan Mishra

When we go meet customers or attend networking events or conferences, the one question that gets tossed up a 100% of the time is this.

 “Can we monitor our salespeople in the field without making them feel that we are tracking their every move?”

And to that question, our answer is always this. “You are tracking activities, not people.”

Any kind of sales force automation often makes sales teams anxious because of the ‘mandatory location tracking’ part associated with it. The general perception is that it is more of a sales tracking app rather than a productivity enhancement tool. The extensive benefits that an organization derives from sales automation get contrasted against a perceived policing of the field teams.

To understand this phenomenon and how one can do away with this misconception around policing, we need to understand what sales force automation actually does. It automates sales processes and accelerates on-field productivity with real-time secondary sales data. To achieve this, location-based real-time field activity tracking is necessary.

A few days ago, I gave a product demo along with one of our product specialists. The prospective customer is a leading brand in cosmetics and has a large fleet of sales representatives working throughout India. We met the Director, National sales head, and a few sales managers of the organization.

At the onset, one of the sales managers told us that there is a rumour going around among the sales reps that the management will be tracking them all the time and it is making them nervous while going on their beats. This rumour became the reason why one of their top sales representatives quit and joined a competitor. It was nerve-wracking for the sales manager to keep his field force motivated.

He was concerned that deploying sales automation could lead to high attrition and low motivation. Considering the attrition rate in the FMCG sector is between 20 - 25%, it had become a big challenge for them too.

How do I convince my team that sales automation is not for tracking them?

A Sales Automation solution is whatever you use it for. More than 50% of the leading brands in the industry are already using some kind of secondary sales software or a distributor management system. And some are using a sales tracker app with the direct intention of tracking their sales team.

The Director stated firmly, “We don’t want to do policing, we want to enable our field sales team.”

I was thinking, would it make me anxious knowing I am being constantly tracked?  I put myself in the shoes of a salesman. The management would know if I’m at home, or some bar, or a clinic. If I am not aware of why exactly I am being tracked, it will definitely make me very anxious.

Breaking the silence, our product expert stepped in, “Transparency in communicating the purpose of this solution can solve your problem. Even your best intentions can be misinterpreted, if not clarified at the right time. You need to speak to your salesforce team. Help them understand the real purpose of adopting such technology. Why do you need their location? Who can see their location data? How will their location data enable your organization to achieve business goals? 

Here are some  features that FieldAssist has that may  help you answer your SO’s questions and alleviate their fears before you roll out the sales automation program:

  • Greater compliance with Geo-Fencing:  With the FieldAssist field app, your SOs must physically be at the outlet to be able to punch in orders from the retailers. 
  • Live Movement Via Heat Map: are not for monitoring what your SOs are doing every minute that they are in the field. They show live movement in the field with sequencing and colour-coding so that your mid-managers can get real-time intelligence on how efficiently the beats are being followed and how many orders have they received.
  • Outlet-level categorization with Beat-o-Meter - This amazing feature from FieldAssist can help your salesmen know which outlets are placing orders and which aren't, which outlets have not bought from them in a long time, which ones are dead outlets etc. This increased visibility will help them understand which outlets they need to cover to expand their reach.

Read: How Dara Optimized his Sales Outlet Coverage using Beat-O-Meter?

  • Fast Selling Products per Outlet: This AI-powered feature calculates the fastest-selling items that each store has based on historical data as well as current order analysis. Your SOs can help retailers place orders smartly by giving them personalized insights on what to order and how much. 

Although most of the time, resistance comes from the ground, field reps have started to realize the value of sales automation apps. They have become advocates of the technology because of the several benefits it provides. Because they now understand that an SFA solution is not a sales tracker, it is a growth enabler for them and their organization. It saves them time and effort, hence making them more productive and improving the quality of their life. It helps them do their jobs better, smash those sales targets and grow into a seasoned sales person. But to do all of that, they need to give their full cooperation and support otherwise the solution will fail.

According to a published study, 75% of all technology adoptions fail. The primary reason behind successful digital transformation is that their leaders focus on changing the mindset of employees, organizational culture, and processes.

Every organization wants data and insights to run its operations smoothly and grow the business faster. And Real-time field data is crucial for consumer goods companies, especially if you see the way the FMCG industry is practically exploding in India.

Overall, the industry is adopting technology at all levels and growing faster than ever. According to the latest report by IBEF the sector is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 14.9% to reach US$220.00 billion by 2025 from US$110 billion in 2020.

Hence it is difficult to believe that adoption of sales automation might lead to attrition or cause low motivation amongst the sales reps. If anything, it will improve their productivity, make relationships with their distribution partners stronger, and upskill them to become an invaluable part of the company’s sales operations.  

"Sales force automation, adopted with a growth mindset will always be a growth enabler."

 - Paramdeep Singh Anand

Ayan Mishra

Designer at FieldAssist. His voice in our team is direct advocacy of end user. He helps us in building effective interaction models which are low on cognitive load and emotionally delightful. Passionate evangelist of design thinking and lean user experiences.

Ready to Reimagine Sales?