“Why didn’t I know this before?” – Story of a Field Sales Agent

midst the hustle and bustle of the city traffic, Jamie makes his way to the stores that he has to visit today, as part of his BEAT plan.

Here is how the conversation goes with one of the retailers he visits-

Jamie – “Hey, this is a new product from the company. How many units should I book for you?”

Retailer – “Hey Jamie, none right now. I am not sure about it. Will check back with you on this later. Alright?”

Jamie (not knowing what to say) – “Alright, sure.”

The traffic situation improved post the pandemic, but Jamie’s struggles only got worse.

Sales representatives are not just the face of the organization; for many they represent the brains of the organization. ‘What they know’ and ‘what they don’t know’ makes a lot of difference to their sales performance and to the client’s growth.

That’s why we are bringing Data Democratization again in focus with this piece. The fact that data should reach those who need to use it on the job, without any hassles or delays is not a surprise for anyone. Many businesses are wary about data being stuck in the hands of a few, especially in a hybrid work set up.

But again, intent must lead to intelligent actions.  

Jamie in the above story is great at the aesthetic part of the job – building relationships, understanding customer behaviour etc., but when it comes to addressing their concerns, he is practically tongue tied.

What changes?

‘He doesn’t know.’

‘They don’t know.’

‘They just don’t know what to say.’

Sales representatives simply don’t have access to real-time, ‘relevant’ data and insights.’

And this is not a quick fix problem.

Many organizations have put tremendous efforts and investments towards enabling field agents with applications that help them with route planning and avoiding overlapping routes through SaaS platforms.

But there is still a huge lag in the way sales agents engage with the clients. And that’s not for their inability to hold a conversation. It’s because of their struggle in driving meaningful conversations for the lack of ‘meaningful insights’.

A Beat Plan is a weekly or monthly route plan for sales and marketing professionals. It chalks out their on-the- field activity w.r.t. which stores they must visit during the day. This plan is made in alignment with the company’s priorities. It enables the field sales professionals to handle stock outages, order collection, visual merchandising, competitor analysis, product feedback etc.

Challenges faced by Sales Representatives on the field (What do they not know?)

Challenge #1

Data is scattered over different platforms.

Marketing data, price data, product analysis data, sales data – there are as many data sources as many functions in the organization, at the very minimum. Data gets moulded and lost at many levels before it reaches the end-user, if it reaches the end-user. Moreover, dashboards and excel files are not easier to access on the field.

Ironically, in many scenarios, data is in many hands but in the hands of those who actually need to use it – the field agents.

Before a sales agent can connect the dots and find useful patterns in the available data to address customer’s concerns on the field, they have lost out on crucial time window and with that, customer’s confidence.

Companies need a data storytelling tool that breaks data silos and connects all data sources – marketing, sales, customer, product – together to enable easy reach.

Beagle enables cross functional collaboration on data by facilitating unified data view within workplace collaboration tools like MS Teams.

Challenge #2

Data is difficult. Intuition is easier.

The complexity of data is the biggest roadblock to democratization of data.

It’s impractical and unfair to expect sales representatives to be data savvy. They are empowered with a whole other skill set, and data literacy doesn’t make the list. Unfortunately, most of the data democratization tools are too complicated for a non-data savvy employee to get hands-on with. That’s why despite having access to technologies and apps facilitating quick access to data, they prefer making intuitive decisions.

This limits data consumption across the sales and marketing chain. Data democratization demands balance between data availability and data consumption.

Field executives need tools that can make using data as simple as using intuition to make decisions. So, it’s easier for them to sell more and worry less on where to see relevant numbers.

Beagle provides ready-to-use, conversational analytics and intelligence that makes it easy for sales agents to take critical decisions on the fly.

Challenge #3

Lack of customer-focused insights.

This is a legit concern of field sales representatives. Which SKUs should they recommend to their customers? How do they convince a particular customer to keep stocks of new products? How do they contribute to the customer’s growth journey? Why should their customers listen to them?

They need tactical stories to share with their customers, while they are on the ground.

In another version of James’ story, here is how the conversation goes –

Jamie – “Hey, this is a new product from the company. How many units should I book for you?”

Retailer – “Hey Jamie, none right now. I am not sure about it. Will check back with you on this later. Alright?”

Jamie – “I understand. But you must know that adding this product to the portfolio has the potential to grow your sales by x%. Your neighbouring competitor has a similar product in their store that accounts for y% of their revenue.”

Retailer – “Wow, OK. Then let’s try this out.”

Jamie – “Great!”

Let’s change the narrative from – “I wish I knew this before” to “I am glad that I knew this.”

Beagle empowers end-users to partner with their customers in their growth, by providing data stories that they can consume in real-time.