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The upside of being more efficient

dreamstime_xs_27121978It is possible to unlock new opportunities to grow your business by simply taking measures to improve your field force efficiency.

Bring your costs down by reducing the amount of time reps spent on administration and travel time between stores and by having the best coverage plan for each territory.

These efficiencies can quickly and easily be achieved through the use of the right systems and work processes.

But the reward is higher than just a more efficient team of reps – there is also the additional bonus of the possible sales uplift from being able to direct reps to more stores and being able to identify those stores with the greatest potential.

Achieving efficiencies

The three core efficiency areas to focus allowing for maximum cost savings are:

1. Territory optimisation. This is where you determine which of your reps should be visiting which stores based on skill set not geography. By matching individual reps skills (lets say your hunters versus farmers) to a territory’s potential you will be able to optimise the territory’s effectiveness. Not only can you match rep skills to the right territory you can also prioritise rep activity so they target the stores with the biggest opportunity first.

2. Route planning. Enhanced journey planning allows you to direct your field teams to the right customers, at the right time, in the right sequence so they are spending less of their day driving or travelling and more of it carrying out their set in store tasks, identifying opportunities, and taking additional orders.

3. Streamlining processes and keeping teams up to date. Giving reps the right tools in field to make relevant data available in a timely fashion will lead to better and faster decision making, allow for ongoing coaching and training, and the ability to guide your reps activities and actions based on key performance indicators (KPIs). By providing best practice action plans you will help them successfully achieve those KPIs and keep them motivated.

Obviously there is an upfront investment required – the cost of a system and building the processes – but one year is really all it takes to get a return on the investment.

And it is not just the improvements in productivity that you will benefit from, while natural attrition in your sales force is a real problem and does mean doing more with less – this can become an opportunity to leverage your best talent in a more optimal way through optimisation of your territories, route planning and streamlining your processes.

It is up to you – the successful companies in today’s retail landscape are the ones delivering more efficient field teams and providing them with the insights to identify and close more opportunities in store.

Kerrie-Anne Turner is VP Asia Pacific and MD Australia at StayinFront

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