March 23, 2006
 

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February 01, 2006

Sold On Solutions

Equipping reps with easy access to information can work wonders for the bottom line.
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When it comes to implementing an effective mobile sales solution, you have nothing without easy-to-use, productivity-boosting software. Choosing the right one for your enterprise, from a now ever-growing number of options, begins with determining your sales force’s needs for meeting your enterprise’s goals.
“In terms of familiarity, we could say that Salesforce.com is the leader out there, because everyone knows what Salesforce.com is, and it was the first company to really capitalize on the Web-selling approach of collaborative sales force–type CRM software,” says Tim Scannell, founder and chief analyst of mobile and wireless consultancy Shoreline Research.

However, Salesforce.com is most ideal for small and medium-size companies, Scannell continues. “If you have 15 or 20 people who work around the country and they want to exchange information on different customers, in different regions, it’s a very good package. … What a lot of companies want, though, is to go beyond that. They want to get into their databases, they want to get closer to their customers and their suppliers, in terms of their databases, and they want to integrate everything. And you really can’t do that with a Salesforce.com. [What you need to do is] take a database approach, which means you have to look at Microsoft, Siebel, SAP and what they’re doing. And even to some extent iAnywhere Solutions.”

Scannell is expecting some interesting developments over the next year or so from Microsoft, in particular, as it recently hired Ray Ozzie, the creator of Notes—a program that “revolutionized messaging”—to focus on CRM. Because a big trend in CRM now, says Scannell, “is to drill deeper but also to put a knowledge-based twist on it. A little intuition. Where there’s this pile of information, but we only want to know this bit of information, or distill it down as it applies to us. That’s where Ray Ozzie comes in, because that was the big deal with Notes—it took messaging as the platform and put an intuitive engine on top so it made sense to you, and made little pockets of people and groups inside there, which you couldn’t do before.

“If I were an IT manager, what I would look for are packages that are flexible enough to keep up with changes that are expected in the CRM industry, and most of these changes will focus on database technology,” Scannell concludes. “You just don’t want to get locked into something that’s not going to allow you flexibility down the road.”

Keeping In Touch
Staying on top of contacts and in sync with far-flung colleagues is one key to many sales teams’ success, and GoldMine from FrontRange Solutions is one of the more popular contact-management programs helping sales teams to increase productivity. This January, FrontRange released GoldMine 7.0, which has a new data architecture designed to improve program performance. Its list of new features includes time-
saving Action Shortcuts added to its Contact Search Center, integration with Microsoft’s SQL Reporting Services to boost reporting capabilities and a GM+Browser, which lets users view multiple windows simultaneously, as well as information from external sources such as databases, back-office systems and Web pages.

What Greg Anderson, senior director of product management for FrontRange, is most excited about, though, is the new IP Voice Suite optional add-on module for 7.0.

“With our IP Voice Suite, if you’re a salesperson, now not only do you have [all available data], but now you can hook up when you’re in your hotel room or anywhere you have Internet access,” says Anderson. “Now I can have calls routed to me no matter where I am. They can call into my regular number, it’s routed to me over the Internet, and I can even have that customer’s information pop up automatically. So now I become more productive, because that information is there. Same thing if I’m on the road and I want to be part of a campaign that I’m calling out on. The next one I need to call on appears on my screen, I can make that call [through the soft phone], I can record all of my information and then I can go on to the next one. So it really does make all of those people more productive, no matter where they’re at.”

Anderson continues, “There was a study done by CSO Insight, that companies that have a sales methodology—and GoldMine can support any of the methodologies out there—plus a tool like GoldMine to track where they are in the sales stage, so nothing slips through the cracks and they’re following a methodical process, show a close-ratio increase of 16 percent.” Customers currently report close rates of anywhere from 10 to 50 percent, says Anderson. One customer previously had its 150-person sales team using Excel to do its forecasting. “After they implemented, they were seeing something like 35 percent. … So it really depends, but we’re seeing significant gains out there.”

Another solution with a focus on contact management is Avidian’s Prophet 3.0, which integrates directly with Outlook. “Our premise is, if you’re already using Outlook for your basic productivity stuff and what you need is sales features, you’re forced to look at another application, say Salesforce.com, or ACT or GoldMine,” says James Wong, CEO of Avidian. “But for me to make the most of Salesforce.com or ACT or GoldMine, I have to recreate [my contacts database] there. They’re asking me to e-mail from there, to create my appointments from there—but really that creates a disconnect from what I’m currently [doing], when what would solve the problem is if Outlook had those sales features. And that’s precisely why we created Prophet 3.0, which is sales software built right into Outlook, so you’re dealing with one application, one contact database, one calendar.

Wong explains that users who have already learned the intricacies of Outlook—the details of managing contacts, e-mailing, creating tasks and appointments—are often frustrated by having to relearn these details in a second program. Once Prophet is installed, says Wong, users can leverage all of the information already inside their Outlook. “You can create contacts the way you want, and then you can create opportunities against those contacts, you can view contacts by company, you can use opportunities to put in detailed notes, all of that kind of stuff. Usually when you’re selling, you’re dealing with that person multiple times. So you can capture that information all in one place—all the e-mails I ever sent back and forth to someone, all the meetings, all the reminders and all the notes are date- and time-stamped, so I can know when was the last time I talked to you,” explains Wong. “Think of us as ACT or GoldMine inside of Outlook.”

Gaining Insight, Boosting Sales
Eleven Technology is a provider of handheld solutions for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. Its two solutions—Eleven DSD and Eleven Retail Execution—are distinct in that one caters to companies with teams of delivery salespeople who go into stores (providers of perishables, such as beverages and bakery items, generally follow the DSD, or direct store delivery, model) and the other is for companies that ship goods to a warehouse, from where retailers are responsible for getting the products on their shelves.

What differentiates Eleven from its competitors, says Mat Brogie, a DSD business analyst for Eleven, is that Eleven provides sales reps with more insight. “Traditionally, handheld solutions just sort of recorded route accounting—what goes on, how many things were delivered, what’s the inventory of the store. But we focus on the rep using the handheld throughout the day to figure out how to sell more,” he explains. “So for example, at the beginning of the day, they have insight into their route—what promotions are available, if there are new products being introduced at each store—which has really become critical in the last five to 10 years, since there’s been a huge increase in the number of products and promotions that companies are offering. So we provide context-based information that allows the rep to intelligently interact [with the information].”

Eleven’s applications began as CRM ordering tools for convenience stores, until its largest customers challenged it to create an application that brought all of the cross-selling and upselling tools of its CRM app to a mobile device. “We went through great pains over a couple of years, mostly with The Pepsi Bottling Group and Pepperidge Farm, figuring out how do we get all that information to the rep without it getting in his way.” The answer is a solution that integrates icons and colors to alert reps to promotions, or other helpful information.

Equipping reps with easy access to information significantly impacts the bottom line. This is especially evident in the CPG market, where sales are made on two levels. “There are sales that go on with account representatives who call on chains and put together large-scale promotions that run across all the chains,” says Brogie. “And the other layer where sales take place is at the store level, where the sale goes on between the delivery person and the store manager.”

In the latter scenario, timing and preparedness are everything. “[Today,] those reps that go into the store have a very limited amount of time with anyone who can make a decision within the store. So what our software does is give them all of the information they need to sell effectively to the store manager,” says Brogie. “So if they’re loading the shelf with new product, and out of the corner of their eye they see the store manager, and they can quickly push a button on the handheld and know what message they should give that store manager, they can be much more effective at selling that new promotion, selling the display and things like that. Whereas in the old days, they would say to the manager, ‘Oh, I think we have a promo coming up that you’d be interested in.’ And any questions that the manager asked, the rep would have to go back to some piece of paper that might still be in his pitch book, behind the seat of his truck, and he’d have to say, ‘Wait right here, I’ll be back in 10 minutes.’ And inevitably, he’d never get hooked back up with that manager.”

Brogie says there are three areas that Eleven really tries to affect. “One is getting the order right. You get the order right, and that affects your stale rate, because you don’t put too much on the shelf, and it affects your out-of stock rate, because you don’t put too little on the shelf. You’re getting the right mix of product on the shelf, which is the second thing. And third thing is the trade promotions. So if you have a promotion agreed to by the chain, making sure that all of the displays are out there [and] available to the consumers.”

Research and analysis, says Brogie, used to be the hardest part of the business. “Now, the hard part is how do you outfit the guy with a tool that will help him sell much more than anyone else will be able to sell. That’s an area that we haven’t really seen our competitors come close to [Eleven’s] feature functionality, or our kind of perspective on the applications.”
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Eleven Takes the Kake

Anyone who grew up on the upper half of the East Coast is no stranger to Tastykake, whose Krimpets and Kandy Kakes have sat in competition on grocery and convenience store shelves with Hostess Twinkies and Ding Dongs for generations of childhoods. Tasty Baking Company, owner of the Tastykake brand, opened its doors in Philadelphia in 1914 and was an instant success, closing the year with gross sales of $300,000. Today, Tasty Baking is a $260 million company, with 500 sales routes catering to 20,000 stores.

Over the decades the company’s dessert offerings have expanded, while in more recent years the route drivers’ sales tools had grown less useful. To help increase sales, management purchased an SAP backend system and rugged Intermec 760 handhelds, but that still left users negotiating with 18-year-old software. “It didn’t really provide the [delivery person] with any kind of functionality or information or help him make decisions and get the right product out there. So based on that, we did a whole search and looked around at several different solutions, and we ended up selecting Eleven,” says Brendan O’Malley, director of enterprise applications for Tasty Baking.

Tasty is currently conducting a pilot, with a full rollout set for March. “So far, the guys are really pleased with it,” says O’Malley. “It gives so much more information. It’s a very visual application, where they’re looking at it, and it’s giving them prompts about what product they should be putting in the store. We’ve been shadowing guys, and a lot of times it’s like, ‘Hey, did you forget about this product?’ and they say, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got that on the truck.” The software doesn’t forget. Today there’s so many more variations, so many more products, more promotions and deals… The complexity has increased and increased, and
having a device that helps to keep track of all that and give the guy the information about what’s really going on in each store—you know, if you have 50 stores on your route, it’s hard to know, ‘Did I put lemon pies in this guy last week?’”

O’Malley is thrilled with Eleven’s forecasting engine, which has helped drivers to make smarter decisions about store- and route-level orders, and to make sure they have the right products on their trucks. With Eleven, says O’Malley, “I think there’s a bunch of opportunities. We’ve got an opportunity to reduce our out-of-stock, which is going to help to drive sales, and to reduce our stales. … And just being able to present better information and make sure that we’re working with sales managers so that we can increase sales by taking advantage of promotions and making sure that we know what’s going on. I think having better information about what’s happening on the shelf is going to allow both Tastykake and our route operators to continue to improve.”

Do stores share the responsibility of unsold stale product?“No,” says O’Malley. “That’s something that we pretty much eat. So to speak.”
—M.M.

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