In the consumer products industry, the shift to mobile computing is having a profound effect—particularly among the field teams responsible for managing customer relationships and growing sales. Here’s why. Mobile applications are easy to use. They can be easily integrated with other operational systems. And they provide direct and fast access to information that can help the field workforce become more insightful, more efficient and more productive.
The numbers show the economic benefits behind mobile usage by field reps. A global CPG manufacturer increased in-store capacity by 15 percent. An Asia-Pacific company increased sales rep productivity by 25 percent. A global beverage manufacturer increased in-store call efficiency by 200 percent.
Mobile solutions, with its instant field intelligence, allows the reps (or their managers) to reassign priorities and tasks based on the real-time information and in-store demand signals. All sorts of information—from out-of-stock alerts and promotion noncompliance to product pricing and quality issues—are now available in the palm of a rep’s hand. And this handheld intelligence completely changes how the reps do their jobs and the outcomes they’re able to achieve. Consider the following scenario:
• Starting the day. No longer limited by distance from HQ or regular office hours, reps access their mobile apps from home to better plan their day. They can synchronize data, flag issues that need immediate attention, and scan for new information that might affect the order of their activities. They can review and prioritize their scheduled store visits, and even access historical customer information and directions to the store location. All this gets them off to a much more efficient start.
• Prepping for a store visit. It’s critical that field reps know what they are walking into when they reach a store location. What tasks do they need to accomplish? What’s their history of interactions with the store manager? What sorts of promotions have worked in this store in the past? With instant field intelligence, the answers to these and many other questions are a few clicks away. It makes their time in the store much more productive.
• Carrying out in-store activities. Instant field intelligence often takes the form of alerts, which bring specific issues, such as out-of-stocks, to a field rep’s attention. These triggers are quite valuable and allow the reps to go directly to the aisle or shelf that needs attention. The boost to in-store efficiency and productivity—especially when multiplied across dozens, hundreds or even thousands of field reps—more than makes up for the cost of the mobile applications.
• Interacting with the store manager. Instant field intelligence and analytics make the sales rep much more credible and knowledgeable in the eyes of the store manager. Even more important, the data delivered through mobile devices provide a legitimate impetus for store managers to increase their orders or agree to promotions. In short, real-time information makes reps more engaging and more relevant. And it drives fact-based selling.
• Ending the day. After making their rounds, field reps can once again synch their data, create reports based on information they collected that day, and review dashboards that show their performance at different stores. Importantly, the information that is collected by a field rep on a given day is sent to HQ, where it can be used to inform faster and better management decisions.
One of the greatest benefits of digital technologies is the ability to link different teams with the same, real-time information. Instant field intelligence, delivered via a host of today’s mobile devices, is a critical piece of this data ecosystem. As such, it enables the outcomes that all consumer goods companies crave: greater store coverage, higher rep productivity and efficiency, better promotional compliance and increased order values. Isn’t it time to mobilize your field workforce?