Squeezing the best performance out of a distributed sales network has never been easy, but let’s face it, the jewelry and watchmaking market presents unique characteristics that transform this job into a definite challenge.
Very serious security concerns as well as high value immobilization issues impose a radical organizational re-thinking: how to improve the efficiency of our sales network, reduce the investment on each new representative, improve people and goods safety, and finally sell more?
Since tablet computers were invented, mobile-based solutions have been the holy grail of any distributed sales network, able to answer many of the above questions.
In this article, we report the results of 10 years of dedicated work, delivering sales automation systems to jewellers and watchmakers of mid-to-large scale, and share the 5 most successful functionalities that over the years demonstrated the largest impact on our customer’s figures.
Sales targets represent the one strongest motivation lever for any agent. Their constant monitoring is key to maintain the hype, but when the team grows, a punctual monitoring can easily result into a lot of datasheets work, reason why the largest the team, the rarest the confrontations on punctual figures are.
Hundreds of customers made clear that among all the features, the one that demonstrated the highest impact is a must-watch-your-target-vs-results every single morning, associated to a management monitoring tool.
In the best software solutions, the management can control each representative achievement, send messages, assign tasks and re-define targets in order to coach and keep its remote team highly motivated.
Selling the beautiful and unique items of a luxury manufacturer depends by 80% on the buyer’s visual confirmation. In order to show their merchandise, sales representatives travel their assigned area with expensive security cases, filled with high-value items, sometimes transported by armoured vehicles.
No surprise a digital catalogue has so much appeal: it doesn’t improve sales by itself, but presents the undeniable advantages of reducing the need of traveling with valuable items, disminishing the overall risk and minimizing the stock immobilization.
Besides any consideration on the picture’s quality, a digital catalogue works well when it is available off-line, when it is quick and easy to navigate, and when it allows background updates.
A special note about this last point: catalogues can change every season, the possibility to update all your agents catalogues with a click on a button from one single desktop in your office must be carefully included in the must-have list.
If digital catalogues demonstrate to reduce the investment over the sales network, that doesn’t necessary resolve another problem: how to communicate weekly promotions, special offers and seasonal bargains to every single sales rep, on the exact day the offer is out?
In facts, promotions represent a sophistication not so common in the order-on-tablets systems, while timely communications to the agents can make the difference between achieving ambitious targets or just being nearly there.
Once again, a central control from a desktop shall do the job; the software shall have the capacity to configure the offers, transfer them in a mandatory way, and pop-up the news in real time. As promotions must be synchronized with the internal invoicing systems, the best results are achieved when the sales automation software can dialogue with the ERP.
Good sales know by hart the numbers of their customers. If this is true for the most meaningful clients, it hardly applies to the generality of the customer base, leaving room for errors and a wrong prioritization of tasks.
In order to improve the key account activity, a sales force automation software must present two features: on the first instance, it must have the capability to show a clear picture of all the touch points, order, invoices and payments a customer has had with us; secondly, it shall enforce alerts and prioritizations based on configurable parameters (e.g.: unpaid bills).
Other functionalities shall catch your eye such as the handling of goods left under a sell-or-get back agreement, the number of calls to the customer support, and eventually the returns.
Last but not least, if a thorough understanding of the reasons-to-buy is key for a sales rep, a manufacturing company shall pay even more attention to the reasons why a deal has not been closed.
The continuous process of try-and-correct at the base of today’s companies’ growth has no better food than a regular stream of information coming from the field.
Sales tools such as a tablet application shall allow and simplify a regular reporting over the visits, in special ways over those that didn’t end up with a sale, and transmit this reporting to a central dashboard where they can be analysed and aggregated. The output shall be configured into actionable information for better decision making, evaluations on the market trends and a better understanding of each agent performance.
The identification of the presented 5 features has not been obvious. Other features were competing such as the mobile order taking or the application of pre-defined conditions (discounts, payment terms) to a customer. We’ve picked these 5 as judged by our customers the most important to increase sales. As a final “techy” note, a strong consideration shall be given to the capacity of a sales automation system to be integrated with the company digital environment, including the ERP and the CRM, as it is only through a streamlined flow of data that a brand can obtain the maximum advantage and the highest business scalability.