In a highly competitive sector like FMCG, brands need to do everything right to succeed. It starts with having a highly effective, data-driven sales team in the field, and carries through to a strong management team with the vision and ability to lead amidst constant change.
“The key thing is connectivity,” said David Barley, CEO of Opmetrix, a specialised CRM platform for organisations that employ large teams of merchandisers, such as brands selling to FMCG businesses and supermarkets.
Connectivity between the field team and head office gives brands a single version of the truth, and enables them to act quickly on this information. But technology alone is no guarantee of success. It also requires the right strategy and mindset at every level of the organisation.
Here, Barley shares the expert insights he’s gleaned from over 20 years of working with field teams.
- Sweat the small stuff
When it comes to the way brands are presented in-store, there’s no room for compromise. If products are out of stock, or the latest promotional material is missing or messy, or old branding or packaging is still being used, it could not only damage consumers’ perception of the brand, but also impact sales.
Field teams are the first line of defence in identifying and rectifying these kinds of errors, so equipping them with the right tools is important. Opmetrix’s mobile app includes a camera, which sales reps can use to record any issues that need to be addressed. Photos are timestamped, so there’s a reliable record of events, and they can be automatically shared with management within the app, so they’ll never get lost in a crowded inbox.
- Keep an eye on the competition
Brands also need to keep a close eye on what the competition is doing to ensure they don’t fall behind on price or positioning. In the Opmetrix app, field teams can use the ‘calling card’ feature to record key information from each store visit, including any new activity from competitors, and easily share it with management to be actioned.
Another handy feature is the ability to conduct surveys. For instance, management teams can set up a simple survey in the app, asking sales reps to say whether a particular product is stocked in each store they visit. The management team can collect all the ‘no’ responses, identify the relevant stores and then create an objective for the field team to get the product stocked in those particular stores. Every time a rep walks into one of the stores, the objective will pop up in their app until it’s complete.
- Make quick decisions
Quick decision-making is key to a brand’s success, but it’s not about following your gut – decisions need to be backed up by data. That’s why the ability to record and share data through the Opmetrix app is so crucial.
Consider the random way information is shared when a clear process isn’t in place. Sales reps might call or email their managers after a site visit, or after several site visits. But if 100 people are doing this, it becomes impossible for leaders to action the information in any sort of strategic way.
“Connectivity creates speed, but it also creates one set of information, or one version of the truth,” Barley said. “Because the tablet or phone synchronises automatically, management can see where their people are, what they’re doing and what they’re saying.”
- Invest in B2B e-commerce
One of the most important trends for brands selling to FMCG businesses and supermarkets right now is the rise of B2B e-commerce, according to Barley.
“A lot of companies don’t have a B2B portal, but with Covid-19, they know they’ve got to make it easier for their customers to order online,” he said. “Compared to the traditional way of someone in the office phoning the order in, a B2B portal is smoother, faster and more efficient.”
While he believes there will always be a human element to sales, brands should try to digitise as much of the process as possible. For instance, they can switch from using paper-based trade catalogs and sales material to going digital with Opmetrix. The app has a file-sharing feature, where sales reps can store and share important PDFs and Word documents.
- Be customer first
Finally, putting the customer first is crucial to the success of any business. But brands have it a bit harder, since they’ve got to take into account the needs of their end customer, as well as the retailer, when creating and pitching products.
Opmetrix knows about creating a product with the customer in mind. Many of the features in its app were designed with input from customers, according to Barley.
“For us, the important thing is that we are customer focused,” he said. “Listening to our customers and what they want to implement to make themselves more efficient is a buzz. It’s a buzz for us to be able to help people do well.”
Click here to find out more about Opmetrix’s specialised CRM platform and how it can make your field team more effective.