3 Must-Have Features for FMCG Field Sales Management Software in 2024

February 20, 2024
Digital Transformation
Sales CRM

Either you run the day or the day runs you.

I do not know whether Jim Rohn referred to field sales when he said this, but it certainly fits.

Field sales in FMCG companies, and industries such as distilleries, breweries, wineries, and pharmaceuticals, relies on large numbers of field personnel performing pre-defined activities through the day.

From Sales Heads to Regional and Divisional Sales Managers to Field Sales Executives, all the cogs in the wheel must work together to achieve sales targets in competitive markets. And, let us face it, most markets are competitive for FMCG and CPG companies.

In our work with FMCG, CPG, distilleries, breweries, and wineries, we have identified three characteristics that are crucial for sales success:

  1. Efficiency: The efficiency of your field sales operations begins at the sales management level. From resourcing and hiring to daily activity planning, these are the foundations of a well-oiled field sales machine.
  2. Compliance: No plan survives sloppy execution. For field sales, complying with the pre-defined daily activity plans is critical to retaining and growing market share.
  3. Intelligence: In retail, control of the point of purchase is a key lever for maximising sales. How well do you know who's dominating the shelves and your own inventory levels in the field?

Needless to say, your field sales management software must enable your sales management to plan efficiently, ensure daily sales activity compliance, and gather market intelligence from the field.

In the rest of the article, we will discuss the critical features you must look for in a field sales activity tracker and management software. If you are in the market or looking to replace your existing field sales management software, keep this handy.

Daily Activity Planning for FMCG

Alternatively called the Permanent Journey Planning (PJP) or beat planning, this is the beating heart of your field sales engine. Don't be surprised if your company calls this a Sales Territory Plan.

Companies with large territories carve up their overall market into manageable territories. Each territory has its own sales management and their own team of field sales executives. Irrespective of what it's called, each field salesperson is expected to visit a pre-defined number of retail stores every day.

There are many ways in which this planning can be inefficient. A few that we have seen:

  1. Stores and routes overlap between field sales personnel.
  2. Inefficient route planning leads to wasted hours and miles.
  3. Frequency of visits are optimised for easy planning rather than maximising productivity.

Each of these factors has a bearing on potential outcomes. So, when you are considering a field sales management app, ensure that it has a robust daily activity planning feature.

What does good activity planning look like?

Ensure your field sales activity planning software has the ability to map your entire sales organisation, along with clear and well-defined access levels. A roster module is essential to help sales managers build the right activity plans for their teams and ensure there is no overlap.

If you build your activity plans on Excel, your field sales management software must have a feature to ingest the data and deploy the plans to individual field sales personnel on their mobile applications.

To summarise, look for the following features in your field sales daily activity planning tool:

  • A roster for field sales personnel
  • Ability to map personnel to territories
  • A route planner to avoid overlaps and optimise travel times
  • Ingest Excel or Google Sheets data
  • Integrate with your existing systems
  • Ability to deploy plans to individual sales personnel on their mobile phones

Field Sales Activity Compliance for FMCG

When the field sales activity roster and plan is developed, the sales management team must ensure compliance with the plan.

Compliance is a combination of the following metics:

  • Attendance check-ins
  • Store check-ins
  • Routes
  • SOP adherence

Many FMCG companies expect the field salesperson to begin the day at office before they go out on their beat. The ability to capture geo locations in real-time is an important feature to track field sales activity compliance. When they are at a store, it is equally important that the salespersons perform the activities that are expected of them.

Before you implement an app for your field sales personnel, ensure that the following features are available for your field sales personnel:

  • Native mobile applications for Android and iOS
  • Live location tracking
  • Geo-fenced check-ins
  • Verifications from stores
  • Paperless orders from stores
  • New store sign-ups from the app
  • Push order data into backend systems

Field Market Intelligence for FMCG

In FMCG, you cannot win unless you own the shelves. And the retailer relationship is how you can own it.

Your field salesforce is an extended arm of your marketing and sales engine. They are your fastest information source to get validated market intelligence.

If you have sales executives out in the field, here is what you should expect from them:

  • Who owns the shelves in your territory?
  • Who are you competing against in your territory?
  • Who's gaining or losing shelf space?
  • Campaigns activated by the competition
  • Current inventory levels in the field

While it seems trivial, most FMCG companies rarely get this level of detail from their field sales personnel. Often, it is because it is difficult to collect and transfer this data to sales management in a way they can meaningfully use. It also lengthens the time to train field sales personnel, which is inefficient for a top line driven function.

This is where your field sales management app can help.

Your field sales application must include configurable workflows so that sales management can define standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sales personnel in the field. Whether it's available stock of your product or competitive information or pictures of in-store displays and shelves, sales managers must be able to configure the workflows to get the information they need from the field.

When they are at a store, field salespeople merely have to follow the steps in the app to give you real-time market intelligence from your territory. And you will be able to gather and act on valid market intelligence in real-time, as they stream in from different parts of your territories.

Choosing the Right Field Sales Management Software

In this article, we discussed the three essential features for a field sales management software and why they are important.

So, what are the next steps?

Traditionally, FMCG companies will either look for off-the-shelf software or rely on manual activity planning. There are intractable problems with both approaches.

Off-the-shelf software will not adapt to your changing needs, especially if they change fast. You'll likely pay for a lot of features you will never need. However, if you wish to go this route, there are a number of solutions that you can search for and use on a trial basis.

Manual processes may scale to an extent, but you will be sacrificing a lot of value while doing so. Paper and pen and Excel sheets will not help you scale faster than your competition.

Thankfully, there is a much better approach available today (and no, we do not mean building your own software).

No-code platforms.

Unlike traditional methods, a no-code platform (such as Hubler) empowers FMCG companies to adopt a ready-built solution while retaining the ability to quickly configure and customize for changing needs.

In this case, adopting a field sales management software built using a no-code platform means that you get the software working for you in one week, instead of the next quarter. And, it is dramatically simpler and faster to configure it for your unique needs as they evolve.

Reach out to us and we'll be delighted to show you how FMCG and related companies use our configurable field sales management software.

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