How to ensure a continuous supply chain for your General Trade sales organization?

by Harshit Bora

March 31, 2020 | 03 min read


COVID-19 is throwing up new challenges every day. The biggest challenge ever for brands in the recent past is the 21-day India-wide Lockdown. However, the government has allowed grocery, dairy, and pharmacy stores to remain open. It has also permitted supply chains of essential goods that supply to these stores to be operational as well. What this means for consumer brands such as yours is that you can serve only a subset of outlets.

Here’s where communication with all channel partners as well as outlets plays a considerable role. In the absence of salespeople, the brand loses out on sales. It also makes way for the competition to come in and take its hard-earned market share, which is very difficult to re-capture unless you own the market like Nestle does with Maggi noodles or Amul with butter.

Midsize brands cannot afford to stay on the sidelines. You can address this challenge with a telesales module where your salesman can call the relevant retailers who will be open, take orders directly and send the orders to the distributors.

Here’s an indicative process for your General Trade sales organisation structure to be able to meet market demand and ensure a continuous supply chain.

  • Remotely working salespeople can call retailers to take orders and share them with distributors through the DMS or email. These salespeople are typically 1/3rd of the current geo-teams (based on skillset) as the capacity to connect will be higher. Their KPIs will be to ensure that they take the right orders, as per availability from as many stores as they possibly can ensure availability.
  • The rest of the geo team (remaining 2/3rd) also get details of the orders. They can then work with distributors and their internal supply chain to resolve fulfillment challenges. In such scenarios, the KPIs of the field force will move to the fulfillment of orders, onboard new retailers, and build relationships like a typical relationship manager.

Schemes and discounts can be rolled out quickly since it’s a plug-and-play module in Bizom. The good news is that Bizom has waived off all the setup charges for enabling this module for their clients amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Here’s how some of the roles of the sales organisation will evolve:

Sales Manager’s role

  • Train the sales team to pitch the right products to retailers based on guidelines set out.
  • Motivate & incentivize distributors to service orders on time.
  • Use Bizom Analytics to pull up data on stores that need your immediate attention for orders.
  • Split these outlets to the respective sales team members.
  • Monitor the day-to-day calls of their salesmen and check on why some outlets are not buying and help convert them over calls.

Tele-Salesman role

  • Salespeople receive a list of outlets they need to call daily from their manager.
  • Your salespeople then call the outlet and enter the requirements into the backend directly to place the orders.

Selective distribution

  • Based on orders received, these salespeople will then follow up with distributors to enable the availability of supply and capability of delivery. Motivating/incentivizing distributors to supply the products is critical and essential.
  • The products once delivered by the distributor to the outlet can be marked as ‘fulfilled’ on Bizom directly if the latter is using a Distributor Management System. Else, the salesman can do the same if the distributors are not using the DMS.

It is a new way of working for the FMCG industry but one that can be effective for businesses to cope with the current challenges thrown by COVID-19 and help render service to consumers on an ongoing basis.

Transforming Order-taking

What’s changing Pre-COVID-19 Traditional Ways of Working During Lockdown New Ways of Working
Morning meetings In-person gate meetings Virtual meetings via WhatsApp/Google Meet/Hangouts etc.
Marketing working Salesman visits an average of 40 outlets daily to take orders according to his PJP Salesman contacts 100 outlets to take orders for all the outlets near to his PJP beat
Duration per outlet Salesman spends on an average of 10-12 minutes for a call to get done Salesman completes one call in 4-5 minutes
Order-taking process Salesman enters order in the Bizom app Salesman uses the Bizom backend to place orders in the Order Management System
Scheme application Schemes are applied to the orders placed in the Bizom app for an outlet Schemes are applied directly into the backend while orders are placed through the phone
Sales manager beat visists Sales manager takes up challenging beats to help the salesman drive better throughput or to resolve challenges Sales manager calls key retail outlets to iron out issues or to drive placement

Businesses use their distribution strategy to keep their customers happy and ensure repeat purchases. That may include discounts and offers set by the company to increase customer purchases. Additionally, a distribution strategy should also ensure that the customer meets the brand everywhere they experience the demand for the product. 

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