When Economic Times approached us to be the sales transformation partner for their Sales Strategy Summit we were delighted to get on board. As a Sales Force Automation (SFA) company that specializes in automating the sales process of multi-billion dollar companies we know first-hand how innovating constantly can be the difference between a dying business and a booming one.
Having worked with Parle Agro, which has been a pioneer in the digital transformation of sales, we realized there can be no better champion for the cause of Digital Sales Transformation than an organisation that already understands, uses and has derived enormous benefits from automating its entire sales force. Hence when it was our CGO Arun Narayanan’s turn to deliver a keynote address we decided to invite Mr Kumar Manindra GM of Sales and Distribution, Parle Agro along with our CEO Lalit Bhise to address the crowd on why Parle Agro felt the need to adopt SFA in the first place and the organisational change it has brought.
Arun: Why did you as an organization feel the need for sales force automation?
Mr Kumar: “To set some context, we were doing a turnover of about Rs 1600 cr about 4 years back. Our JMD Nadia Chauhan set a target of achieving 3000 Cr revenue in 1/3rd of the time it took to get to 1600 cr and move from being a medium-sized entity to a large one. We were still working on old methods of order-taking, manual DSR and Excel reports which slowed down operations and the pace of data received. The first thing we realized was that we needed to empower our sales force and offload some of these manual processes from them.
Once we started using SFA the productivity, and efficiency of our market operations increased and all parameters have shown an upswing. The sales team is more confident and spends more time in the market and is able to sell more in lesser time. The middle management gets real-time data and visibility helping their decision-making ability. If we need any particular data we just need to push a custom field down through the app to the field force and they know exactly what they need to do. The data and analytics are readily available and I’m able to take a decision that very day. I’m glad to announce that 3 years down the line we achieved our target of reaching 3000cr and hope to grow further”
Arun: How did you drive adoption among your field force?
Mr Kumar: “The first thing we did was bring all our state heads on board with the decision. The next priority was to have the tool made as user-friendly as possible. We pushed Bizom to that end and made changes such as visual indicators instead of percentages. Once the tool was made user-friendly it was all about training them to use it which Bizom did wonderfully.
We are not changing their lifestyle. We are only changing their manual order taking, DSR reporting and automating them. If I’m a salesperson and it drives up my efficiency, helps meet my targets and gets my incentive then I am more than willing to adopt.”
Arun: With Sales Force Automation when all the data is out there the feeling of being watched may be a concern. How do you address this?
Lalit: There is a technological solution to this and can even be turned into an advantage as we did with Parle Agro. One of the things we did was build gamification into our product. We ran an intra-company league, and turned the sales process itself into a game like a fantasy league, so the sales forces could interact and compete with each other. This had immediate results in building comfort with the product and assuaging any apprehensions the sales executives had.
Audience Question: How did automating help the sales executive in his daily life? What were the changes post rolling this out?
Mr Kumar: Pre-rollout manual data entry took much longer and obtaining a wide variety of outlet data by a single sales executive manually was next to impossible. Stock ageing or. Post scenario multiple data points can be entered and made available much faster.
Features like suggested orders, and predictive ordering helps him know exactly where to sell, what to sell and how much to sell. Stock availability, SKU-wise orders, and order history of outlets are available in real-time and he has all the information at his fingertips. Even higher up the chain, middle management is able to see all this data in simple visuals and they’re able to make strategic decisions accordingly. They can run any scheme locally and check its effectiveness within the day.”
We will be covering many more of our successful customer case studies with a more in-depth analysis of how SFA has helped them transform their sales process.
About Parle Agro
Parle Agro is an Indian private limited company that owns Frooti, Appy, LMN, Hippo and Bailey. It is one of India’s leading FMCG companies with a presence in 8,00,000 outlets, 76 manufacturing facilities and 4,000 distribution channel partners.
Parle Agro partnered with Bizom to streamline their sales force and increase their productivity, optimize its supply chain operations and increase efficiencies within the operations.