You no longer need to disappoint or lose a customer because of back-orders that are not known until a day or two after taking the customer's order. Your salesperson could, instead, be able to see that inventory is low and offer a similar product on the spot.
Lost sales because of conflicts in service scheduling could be more easily avoided.
Instead of incurring the cost of processing a large order to a customer already beyond their credit limit, your investment in personal customer service could provide a friendly reminder.
We here at ACE Inc. can provide recommendations based on our daily experience in today's marketplace, but it is really your dream of how you would like to manage your business that drives this custom system. Artisan Crew's engineers use their skill and creativity to cut the gears to your design, maximizing the benefits of available technology.
That's the big picture--as big as your imagination--and the benefits are obvious.
The new standard: field sales force automation & mobile data collection
The use of mobile systems is fast becoming the standard for sales-oriented companies that are fulfilling dozens or even thousands of orders daily. Sales force automation helps companies rid themselves of archaic and slow procedures that can waste time and money in an ever-competitive sales environment, regardless of the product or service being sold.
Companies that employ handwritten order forms that must be called or faxed in, then flow through a long chain of data entry, sales price point verification, and stock inventory confirmation, all before order pick, pack and delivery, are paying a huge price in efficiency and quality customer service compared to competitors with SFA systems.
Going mobile: the case for SFA
It was estimated by leaders in the field that, from 2006 through 2011, the number of mobile salespeople requiring real-time network connections would grow from 40 percent to 80 percent. Additionally, 50 percent of companies surveyed in '06 believed mobile SFA would have a major impact on the way they do business in the next five years.
The primary reason most organizations implement SFA is to reduce or eliminate costly, slow systems that complicate the sales process, frustrate salespeople and invite human error.
Once a Field Sales Force Automation System is in place, many of the time-consuming and redundant steps that were once necessary are completely removed. Those steps are, quite literally, in the palm of your salesperson's hand. The result is a faster, more accurate, cost-effective and customer-responsive sales force and, ultimately, customer loyalty.
SFA allows the sales force to check inventory levels, customer account information, cross-sell opportunities, promotional opportunities, and just about any other vital information from anywhere. With custom software you and ACE, Inc. design together, you define just how much--or how little--information is available to whom.
Of course, there is an investment in switching over to a new, streamlined, automated system. The question now becomes..........
How can my custom mobile SFA system pay for itself?
Every customer is important today; a repeat, loyal customer is precious indeed. It is harder, perhaps, to put a value on a confidant, motivated, happy sales crew. Sales Force Automation, combined with the right, well-designed custom software, can give you both.
A sales representative in the field retrieves customer information, including previous orders, equipment installed or when the last sales call was made. This is invaluable for discovering unmet needs, spurring sales and serving the customer more effectively.
On-the-go access to the sales process means less time spent by mobile workers on end-of-day data entry. This immediately results in more time for their most important job, which is meeting with customers, serving them and closing sales.
Increased sales performance
SFA increases sales performance in several ways. On an individual level, all the information and order procedures can be accessed in the field. This allows individuals to complete orders more quickly and visit more customers in a given day. On a company level this can result in a happier, more productive work force, and a higher level of customer satisfaction.
Improve up-selling, cross-selling and cross-over
SFA systems can be designed to recommend up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. In the past, this has been an area of opportunity that has been left to the individual sales person. The up-sell/cross-sell opportunity depended highly upon the knowledge and inspiration of the sales force - and that required time spent off the field in product education and sales motivation, as well as an intimate knowledge of each customer's needs. With an SFA system, management can now identify, control, and track up-sell/cross-sell products. The SFA system can prompt a sales person to recommend products based on a customer's order or order history. The ability to recommend relevant products can bring more value to customers and increase their satisfaction.
It used to be that when a sales person moved on, took vacation or was otherwise unavailable, or when efficiency demanded a sales territory be redrawn, the customer, and therefore sales, immediately suffered, because a "cross-over" salesperson could not quickly be given that special knowledge of each customer's history and needs. With SFA, any of your salespeople can confidently call on any of your customers with each customer's entire history at their fingertips. At the same time, your customers' loyalty builds toward your company, rather than any one individual representing you.
Limit backorders and save sales by suggesting similar products
Backorders have long been a headache for companies, sales people and customers. Few things are more aggravating than finding out an item is out of stock after it's been ordered, especially if it's an urgent need.
Even armed with a daily print-out of current inventory, a sales crew filling out "paper" forms could be taking orders for out-of-stock items by noon and not know until they're placing orders at the end of the day. As a result, the customer may not find out about the back-ordered item until the incomplete order is delivered.
Availability dates were nearly impossible to know in the field and, even when known, the salesperson needed to have the product knowledge to identify substitute products.
This all-too-common scenario doesn't need to occur too many times before customers question a company's ability to meet their needs, and the salesperson's confidence diminishes with their commission.
SFA technology can bring real-time inventory levels to your sales force during the sale and can turn this challenge into an opportunity to show your customer the benefit of dealing with your company by automatically recommending similar products, or by identifying when a product will become available. SFA can make the entire supply chain available to the sales force, including real-time vendor re-orders.
More reliable service inventory
For field service applications, the almost immediate transmission of a work order helps to track parts used during service calls. This prevents possible shortages and verifies adequate stock on-hand for the next day's work. And, when a part is not in field inventory, the crew can check the warehouse, reserve the part and efficiently reschedule the follow-up service visit. Improved field inventory control actually results in a reduction of unnecessary truck rolls.
Reduce human error
Old-fashioned handwritten order forms are subject to a variety of human errors. Everything from penmanship, fax quality, and interpretation can affect the accuracy of an order. That opportunity for error is multiplied daily as the orders "play telephone" down the data entry and fulfillment chain. With all these factors, it's no wonder companies lose millions of dollars on simple human error. Luckily, SFA can virtually eliminate most of the causes of such errors. What once took a small army can now be accomplished with one salesperson, and most of it can be accomplished remotely in the field at the touch of a finger. SFA technology reduces errors by removing redundant steps, setting controls, and streamlining the sales chain.
Increase accurate, complete order fulfillment
Increasing order accuracy is related to the entire sales chain and the availability of information. When a sales person can access real-time inventory levels, backorder information, up-to-date catalog information, and a wealth of other knowledge, the result is an increase in order accuracy. When orders can be processed from the field, crews can be more efficiently scheduled and warehouse inventory restocked on a timely basis.
Reduce administrative costs
With the reduction of errors and removal of unnecessary steps, companies can save millions in administrative costs. Vendor re-orders can be accomplished more efficiently and with higher quantity discounts and freight streamlining. Overtime is reduced, employees in redundant roles can be moved to more productive roles and management can focus on meeting company objectives.
Less duplicate entry
In a real-time system, customer data entry becomes an integral part of completing a service work order. This spares mobile workers from duplicate tasks of creating the paperwork for customers only to have to re-enter the same information in the CRM system later. The reduction in employee frustration is almost as valuable as the more visible savings in man-hours.
Ramp up sales of new products with up-to-date catalogs
New product sales are often hampered by out-of-date catalogs. Paper catalogs are usually only distributed on an annual basis even though new products are introduced continually. Printing and distributing "one-sheet" marketing materials through the sales team is one method used to address this problem. This leaves the responsibility for getting the right product sheets in the right hands (and to keep customer interest and save print costs only the right hands) to your sales person. The overall quality of future sales process is then dependent on whether or not the customer is receiving current catalogs and sheets. With SFA, not only can the new products be identified as up-sell /cross-sell opportunities, management can immediately educate the sales force on new product features and specific products can be "keyed"to an appropriate class or group of customers. Pa perless distribution of materials can even be arranged in the field.
Increase customer satisfaction
Simply, SFA keeps customers happy and that keeps companies in business. Customers are no longer as frustrated by backorders, mistakes, and time-consuming sales calls. SFA also builds customer confidence because orders are accurate and timely. Their loyalty is to you, the company they can count on.
Improve customer and employee retention
SFA helps remove many of the frustrations that cause good customers and employees to leave a company. Custom mobile solutions can help a sales force look and feel competent and professional, and increases confidence in a company from both sides.
Improve cash flow
Customer account balances can be made available and payment can be collected rather than compounding an over-limit situation. Sales people can clear balances in real-time by collecting check, cash or credit card and continue ordering on the spot. And, since SFA speeds up the sales process, companies can collect more quickly and fulfill more orders daily.
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