Maximizing Productivity in Sales Channel is a sure way to provide greater band-width to Sales Channel in pursuing their main purpose- to make and close sale.
Here are the Sales Channel productivity opportunities and how to leverage them:
Personal Productivity support
Provide tools, solutions and training for sales-staff to manage their time better. The examples are:
- Calendar, tasks, to-do, reminder management.
- Sales calls tracking and following tool
- Personal Finance Management tool including funds flow projections given the new business submitted for processing
- E-bill payment subscription
Sales Closure Support
- Providing on-feet support for collecting and submitting documents
- Operations to directly contact the customers for paper-work OR correction/updation in purchase-ordering.
One example is from the Life Insurance Industry, where once an applicant submits the proposal form for life Insurance. Post this, typically field operations take-over in terms of completing documentation, getting medical tests done, follow-up on additional risk premium (if the medical reports are not good).
Financial operations to do the payment collection as part of sale OR post sale, if it is a sale on credit.
Information and MIS support
Online OR delivery of MIS, IVR systems etc..to provide quickly accessible information related to sales, new schemes, change of policies, sales compensation reports etc.
Associated Challenges and Mitigation
The above examples of productivity support, do have an impact on overall organization. Here are the impacts and their possible mitigation:
Sales channel not owning the closure of sale OR its quality:
With field operations and financial operations providing support in sales closure, sometimes the sales channel gets lax on the quality of the sale. By quality of sales, we mean the quality of documents submitted (For example the credit card application along with the supporting documents..). Quality of sale also means the level of commitment from the customer. For example, if the sales is on credit, and if financial operations is responsible for cheque collection, sales person may loose interest in following-up with the customer for payment.
A good way to handle this is to link the sales person incentives and recognition with the quality of sale and timely collection of monies from the customer. This is a fine balance, as both sales person and supporting operations share the responsibility for sales closure.
Additional cost to the company
Providing this kind of support system to the sales channel will lead to additional cost to the company. At the same time, the sales people do not like to get their commissions reduced to compensate for this cost. One way to handle it is to not to reduce the commission per transaction, but change the slab rates of bonus. This means that the thresh-holds after which a sales person may get a higher bonus, can be increased.
There is not an easy answer to this. Many a times, the support system for the sales channel is less to do with increasing sales productivity, but also to avoid lost sales. Without these support systems, customer may cancel the order given longer lead time. The experience shows that sales people are not good in operations related work. Some companies hire outsourced companies to provide these services to the sales staff, on transaction fee based system. Organization gets into a corporate deal with these 3rd party operators, which sales people can use on individual basis. The key area under this bucket is for providing on-feet support to collect documents.