In a recent post we talked about how you can initiate a cultural shift in your organization by empowering the sales team with off-the-shelf apps that integrate with your ERP system.
By doing so, you improve your sales team’s ability to respond and react to situations that build customer confidence. However, it’s likely that this won’t help you create any substantial competitive differentiation since many of your competitors have easy access to the same or similar apps.
To truly disrupt the competition and win more marketshare, you need to make an honest evaluation of your current processes, systems and opportunities. This is a creative effort that can be accomplished through good old fashioned business process re-engineering.
Re-imagine a Common Sales Process
Let’s consider the challenge of a fictitious company called Seeson’s Greetings. Seeson’s Greetings sells Christmas and other holiday ornaments through wholesale distribution. Their industry is considered to be very competitive.
A major part of Seeson’s Greetings sales come from active participation at industry trade shows. From the trade show floor, Seeson’s team of sales reps need to provide quotes, orders and invoices, and in some cases, accept payment on the spot from their B2B clientele.
The current sales process for Seeson’s Greetings is manual, and looks something like this:
- Confirm pricing for the customer in a printed catalog.
- Prepare handwritten invoice/order form, and obtain a signature from the customer.
- Call the office to provide credit card information.
- Fax or physically deliver the handwritten invoice/order form to the office.
- Enter sales activity into the ERP.
- Send email order confirmation to the customer.
- Document the transaction; either file the signed customer invoice in a cabinet, or manually scan and attach it to the invoice record in the ERP.
This process is wrought with inefficiencies, and potential for mistakes, information delays, and effort duplication. In short, it is ripe for an overhaul. Here are some of the problem areas:
- Trade show activity is not available to management in real-time.
- Salespeople have no access to a customer’s prior sales history while interacting at a trade show.
- Revenue and credit card receipt postings to accounting are delayed.
- Warehouse inquiries are inaccurate because inventory quantities in the ERP don’t reflect trade show sales until later.
- Excess labor costs are incurred by having additional staff enter the transactions.
- Risk of error increases when entering after-the-fact data based on a hand-written form.
Seeson’s has some real opportunities to re-engineer the trade show selling process in a way that provides measurable benefits. These improvements include increased salesperson and customer confidence, reduced order processing labor costs, and greatly accelerated visibility of trade show activities at any moment in time.
BETTER PROCESSES ENABLE MORE SALES.
When engaging in process re-design, imagine all the benefits of making trade show sales with a smart phone or a tablet app designed for your ERP:
- A salesperson can now review the customer’s history—on the spot.
- Customer specific pricing is available, current and accurate.
- Product bar code scanning speeds up customer checkout.
- Swiping credit card data speeds up checkout, too.
- Electronic signature capture improves accountability.
- Photographic proof of delivery is captured.
- Invoice receipt is automatically printed or emailed, saving time.
- Geo-coded, time- and date-stamped transactions improve visibility.
- Sales data, including the signature, the photo, the geo-code info, etc. is fed into the ERP immediately, increasing confidence.
- Show activity is completely backed up. Re-keying of data is no longer necessary.
You’ve just re-imagined a process that, when acted upon, will likely increase the satisfaction of your customers, salespeople, customer service reps and most likely, management and ownership. Best of all, with this imagined process, you created documentation suitable to help evaluate software developers and determine who has the best technology and experience to satisfy your needs.
To learn more about how xkzero can help you develop a mobile ERP strategy to fit your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-416-2009.