Innovation is the key to success for many businesses, and not just in the tech industry. Organisations that have a culture of innovation are able to think outside the box, respond quickly and constantly improve – all important qualities in the fast-paced, ultra-competitive world of retail today.
But while many consumer goods businesses have embraced innovation in their marketing, digital and product teams, they haven’t done the same for their field sales teams. Opmetrix CEO David Barley believes it’s time for that to change.
“Traditionally, field sales teams have relied on their people skills and gut instinct to close deals,” Barley said. “But if they can use tools and technology well, they’re going to be way more efficient.”
Tools to work smarter, not harder
Opmetrix is one such tool that helps field sales teams to work smarter, not harder. Besides enabling users to plan client visits, record information and easily share it with their managers on a mobile device, the specialised CRM platform also has a ‘smart route’ feature designed to increase team members’ productivity.
“You can pin the locations you want to visit, and the app will tell you the smartest way to get there – including traffic,” Barley said.
It also has a ‘store call segmentation’ feature, which enables managers to tell team members exactly how much time to spend on each brand in a given store call, depending on the value of the brand to the business.
“If you’re doing a store call where you look after 10 different brands, you need to be able to segment that call, so you’re doing an hour on brand A and only 10 minutes on brand B. That sounds pretty straightforward, but from the developer’s perspective, they’ve got to be able to write a program that can slice and dice and split up that call for the person in the field,” Barley explained.
Opmetrix’s in-house development team uses an agile approach to ensure they’re constantly building new features that enhance the CRM platform. They deliver three to four major releases every year and are often driven by user feedback, according to Barley.
“As a software company, we’re forever building in innovative features based on technological advances,” he said.
The next update will give users a personalised dashboard, so field sales teams can track their progress towards their individual KPIs.
“It’s all about making their life easier,” he said.
The importance of leadership
A true culture of innovation in field sales is about mindset as much as it’s about the latest technology and tools.
The most effective salespeople are the ones who are constantly thinking about what they’re doing and how they can do it better. They aren’t waiting for their managers to tell them what to do; they’re more likely to give themselves a personal objective to achieve.
It requires strong leadership to instill this way of thinking throughout the field sales team, according to Barley.
“A transformative approach from leaders definitely pushes people to be innovative,” he said.
With over 20 years’ experience working with field sales teams, Barley has seen many managers come and go. The best ones are those who share their ideas and information with the team and encourage the team to share their own experiences with management.
“You see people now and again and think, ‘Wow, this person is a great leader.’ They’re getting the whole team together to talk about what’s working and what’s not,” he said.
Another important quality that sets great leaders apart is vision. Barley recalled working with one organisation that was considering implementing Opmetrix among a few other tools. Prior to making a decision, the leadership team thought through the key areas they wanted to improve, and then benchmarked each tool against their criteria to see which would help them achieve their goals.
“When you see that happen, you know they’ve got vision,” he said.
People skills will always be important in field sales, but increasingly, sales teams need to be more efficient, productive and innovative to be successful. Equipping them with the right technology is crucial, as is strong leadership.
“People adopt Opmetrix because they know they need to digitise, but the leadership, the innovation, the vision they bring to the table – that’s what takes it up an extra notch,” Barley said.
Click here to find out more about the innovative features in Opmetrix’s specialised CRM platform and how it can make your field team more effective.