Sales Force Automation – Explained!

Perry Blanc is the most celebrated florist in Times Square and people from all walks of life flock to his doorstep all day long. He even gets online orders for making someone’s day special. Perry’s employees are as fresh as his flowers and he completes every order with precise perfection. However, of late he has been receiving too many orders and things have gotten a little wonky. There have been two consistent wrong deliveries in a week, apart from the late deliveries and an improper message that went on a wreath (!). There was also a case when one of his employees lost a slip that had a contact’s details. Perry’s reputation is at stake and he simply wants to get his business back on track. Perry talks to his friend Mark, who is a CRM consultant. After listening to Perry’s problems, Mark is clear in that sales force automation is what Perry’s flower business badly needs.

Problem 1: Customer details getting lost

During peak seasons quite a few orders were getting lost. Sometimes the busy staff who attended the phone missed taking down the client’s phone number or the delivery address!

Mark’s prompt action:

It pained Mark to see orders being lost just because customer details were not recorded! Perry badly needed a solution to manage his customers’ contact details. Mark set-up for Perry a simple CRM system that would let his staff record customer details just once so that the next time a particular customer calls, Perry’s staff would automatically pull up his/her records by simply searching the contact’s name or phone number.

Problem 2: Losing order details and miscommunication

For special custom-made orders, many times the overworked staff would forget to pass on details to the guy who made the special floral arrangements, sometimes even ending up sending the wrong details.

With the new CRM system, when a customer regularly placed orders for orchid bouquets, the system would have all records (color and size and arrangement) in the order history right against the contact details. Perry’s staff now only need to pick from the order list when the next requirement comes by. Once an order is taken, an email and SMS would automatically be sent to the guy making the bouquet. So no more worries about missed orders!

Problem 3: Missing to invoice & thus missing payments

Philips & Co. places regular orders for flower bouquets, the dues for which they settle on a monthly basis. Their CEO had ordered a few extra bouquets this month during their delegate visit, but Perry’s staff missed including these on their monthly bill.

Now every time an order is placed, Perry’s staff records it in the system and this automatically synchs with an invoicing software that would have ready an invoice to be sent to the customer. Perry’s staff now also knows which of their customers need special attention by looking at the payments coming from them – prompt, high-value and high-frequency customers are now treated very special no matter what time they call.

Problem 4: Not knowing which team member needs help with training

Perry had hired two new tele-callers the minute he knew about the competing, swanky bouquet outlet opening on the same street. In addition, he also has a sales team gunning just the big corporate orders. Yet things have not been improving and he now needs to know which of his team members need the extra training and care to get the orders coming in.

With the new system in place, Perry is now able to easily structure sales commissions from the sales activity details recorded against each executive. Ready-made reports also help in comparing performance across team members. Over the same CRM platform, Perry now occasionally shares training material, discount ideas and customer success stories which help his executives do better at work.

Problem 5: Forecasting sales and having enough inventory

One of the biggest problems affecting the business was shortages in stock. Right when a promising client walked in there’d be no more orchids left. Perry sometimes overstocked to prevent such situations but depending on how hot the summer was, flowers would end up wilting after a few hours.

Now, Perry predicts how much stock he’d need by looking at graphs that show daily/weekly/monthly order history. He even knows how much stock he’d need by type of bouquet/flower/color/ – he’s easily identifying and planning for on-season and off-season times now.

Problem 6: Missing to follow-up on inquiries

Corporate orders are a big jackpot for Perry. Orders for conferences hosted at the nearby community hall would give him enough sales to cover a whole quarter’s expenses. Only problem he would miss to follow-up on inquiries that would translate to orders later than 2 or 3 months.

The CRM system’s Return on Investment came through with this single ability of reminding the sales executives when they needed to follow-up on an enquiry at a later date. Huge corporate bookings (and jackpot profits) were now easily closed and delivered. Perry’s sales & marketing teams now even buy lists for email campaigns done from within the CRM system.

Having seen how Perry’s employing Sales Force Automation, let’s summarize the main components:

  1. Customer & Contact Management – contact details needing be inputted only once.
  2. Order Management – automatic email and SMS on every order.
  3. Invoice Management & Payment Tracking – CRM system synched with invoicing software, and vice versa
  4. Sales Team Performance Evaluation – sales commissions and training sessions structured on sales activity reports
  5. Sales Forecast & Inventory Management – insightful daily/weekly/monthly order history graphs
  6. Lead Management – email campaigns and reminders on follow-up required

So, that’s the story of Perry the florist. Now, coming to your business…

Can you see the correlation between Perry’s problems and your own business? And how Sales Force Automation can help you? Well then, give it a thought, while I come up with a set of CRM tools you can consider, in my next post!

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