Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why CRM Software Might Not be the Answer / The Case for Field Activity Management Software

 Erin Friar for Business2Community writes: In 2015, a growing number of businesses are adopting mobile software solutions to streamline communication, increase accountability, and track the success of sales strategies. While this trend is positive, it is important that businesses closely examine each of their options for software. When CRM software first came on the market in the late 90s, many business leaders were attracted to it, as it was the only sophisticated software available. However, the software landscape has drastically changed since CRM software was introduced. Learn about its potential pitfalls and what alternatives exist.
It’s Reactive:
CRM  software focuses on solutions based on data. It helps businesses measure the success of promotions and tracks the progress of sales pipelines. Back-office managers analyze the data and make adjustments in the field accordingly. While this is helpful data to have, it creates a cycle of reactive, rather than proactive, behavior. It doesn’t help solve some of the most important issues with daily operations. For example, a rep who is merchandising new product for the first time needs guidance and direction.
A mobile CRM interface would show him statistics and charts. This will not proactively direct him towards correct shelf placements, product facings, or enable him to document the surrounding products. Business reps need a mobile tool that simplifies, not complicates, daily activities. This is especially true for the beverage industry where proper merchandising can be a key factor in the success of seasonal promotions and customer retention. The right software tool should provide clear examples of accurate operations and proactively aid reps in their daily activities.
It’s One Sided:
Between client relations, purchase orders, merchandising, sales pitches, and overhead work, business reps have enough complexity dominating their day. Any software that a business takes on should be used for simplifying the most important aspects of fieldwork. CRM software offers dynamic data sets for business decision makers to examine, which can identify chronic problems with locations or strategies. Yet, it fails to impress once its in the hands of regular business reps.
As Javier Aldrete, director of product management at sales software provider Zilliant,  said about CRM, “there is often very little actionable insight for the sales reps.” To illustrate this issue, consider one of the biggest challenges facing CPG industry reps: purchase orders. A great deal of revenue can be lost from human error during purchase orders. If too much product is ordered, the back-office is inconvenienced by having to refund the retailer. If too little product is ordered, instances of costly OOS (out-of-stock) and product voids can occur. CRM software tools fail to provide an interface with intelligent merchandising and communication that reps consistently need. Businesses need a tool that will both offer insightful data to managers while also simplifying the duties of field reps.
The Solution
As an increasing number of young and growing businesses are considering software solutions, it is imperative that the choice they make be meaningful across the entire company. While CRM tools were popular at their introduction, they have failed to meet the needs of an ever-changing business landscape. Instead of using this reactive and one-sided tool, businesses should consider leveraging Field Activity Management software.
Field Activity Management software focuses on simplifying field operations such as purchasing, merchandising, and client sales. It allows reps to quickly refer back to visual examples of shelf placements and facings, retrieving photos from the Cloud in real time. The tool also enables reps to look at notes about clients left by co-workers, so that they may be more knowledgeable going into each client visit. These tools often offer a digital ordering management  feature that allows reps to place an order in-store and even capture a client’s signature to approve the sale.
The power of Field Activity Management software also extends to the back office. Managers can leverage the tool to optimize territory management, allowing them to intelligently place reps with the appropropriate clients and cut down on travel expenses. Additionally, managers can assign reps to projects, instructing them to do a number of activities, such as performing audits before they can finish, raising the bar for employee accountability. Most importantly, managers can create custom forms for reps to fill with any data they choose. The focus on simplified field operations, along with the collection of meaningful data for managers makes Field Activity Management software the best choice for any young or growing business. 

4 comments:

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