he consumer goods industry recorded solid profit margins
in 2015 and 2016 as companies worked to reduce costs and
eliminate waste. However, reducing costs is only half the
story, and the industry is looking to sales growth to fuel profit
improvements. In many cases, the focus is now on improving
returns from one of the industry’s most valuable assets: The sales
force. We asked Sam Barclay, executive vice president, managing
director of StayinFront ( www.stayinfront.com), to explain how
companies are using of performance management strategies and
tools to do just that.
1How are new performance management technologies chang- ing the way consumer goods companies are do business?
BARCLAY: New technologies are enabling new hires to reach their
potential quickly, which means they are helping new employees
hit their targets more quickly, and boost potential sales profits.
Sophisticated online training can provide a consistent and measurable baseline of knowledge so new reps can hit the ground
running. Enterprise social messaging tools can be used to connect
them to their colleagues quickly and provide a knowledge safety
net, enabling the new hire to ask questions that can be quickly
answered by more experienced field reps. Also, coaching and
mentoring tools can help in-field supervisors identify and resolve
performance issues quickly. Ideally, these three capabilities can
be accessed directly from the rep’s phone, providing new hires
with training, a support group and coaching and mentoring to get
them up to speed quickly.
2What role does gamification play in performance management? BARCLAY: Gamification uses a set of performance enhancing incentives to stoke our natural competitive instincts. Electronic games have
provided a roadmap to the performance improvement potential of competition against ourselves and colleagues. While long-term selling and
bonus incentives have been in use for over a century, gamification works
more on short-term instant gratification type incentives and competition
against colleagues. The key to providing these micro-incentives is to give
the sales representative small interim goals, and provide positive feedback and reinforcement when those small short-term goals are achieved.
For example, a good “gamified” process might be to incentivize a rep
to improve a store’s “perfect store” rating by a minimum of five points
during this store call. The rep receives constant positive reinforcement
during the call as they work toward the achievement, and are rewarded
with some form of “currency” that can be used within the organization.
3How can performance management technology also improve customer service?
BARCLAY: The best customer service is all about the communication and
collaboration between the rep, merchandiser, driver and supervisor, who
are all in store at different times. In the case of a large format store, the
biggest brands will have team members in that store several times per
week. Finding a performance management tool that supports this kind
of instant messaging across the service team is enormously beneficial
to the customer as it will provide them with common communication
from all employees at all times. Performance management is critical to
improving margins through the sales organization, and having the right
tools to train, coach and incentivize the sales team will help you increase
sales and improve margins by getting new hires up to speed, and by
providing encouragement to the more experienced.
The Sales Force Imperative
• BY ALBERT GUFFANTI, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND PUBLISHER, CGT
BETWEEN THE LINES SAM BARCLAY, EVP, Managing Director, StayInFront