Now the Pre-Sales Manager at Gera, a Brazilian software company specialized in IT solutions for direct selling, Marcelo Alves has been working for more than 25 years in several areas of important direct selling companies such as Natura and DirectBiz Consultants. His expertise includes market planning, sales team management, implementation of multi-channel strategies and direct selling management systems for startup companies.
Guest Post by Marcelo Alves
Sales Management by Indicators
In such a competitive market as the direct selling, the strategic differential that is driving the results of high-performance companies goes beyond investment in brand awareness and product portfolio. Now, to be successful, those companies depend on their ability to quickly identify improvement opportunities and manage its sales team precisely. We believe that the achievement of such a goal is only possible when the company´s management is strongly driven by an online real-time analysis of sales force key indicators.
To put this process into practice, it takes efforts to build a “critical mass” with skilled executives whose management tasks are definitely driven by indicators, not by guessing. Those managers and team leaders are the “engine” of the results in a direct selling company, so reading the team results by their indicators should be a natural and frequent habit. The review of channel, sales and revenue indicators must be an organic and systematic process, sponsored and encouraged by the company until such terms as “Activity”, “Average Ticket,” “Rep Loss” and “Delinquency” become a “dialect” in the company, common among these managers and members of the back office. Thus, this back office should be also composed of professionals driven by the efficient analysis of critical data generated daily by the operation, in several company processes: ordering, new reseller registration, outstanding bonds, picking, available/idle reps, net sales, among others.
The latest evolution of this concept is under the “B.I.” (Business Intelligence) scenario, which actually goes beyond recording and delivery of key indicators, a “beginner’s level” that many companies still have not achieved to reach. In fact, “to breath Business Intelligence” today means having managers that steer their results due to the efficient use of tools enabled to dive into the sales data, productivity and channel evolution per team, per region and period, crossing them with information related to the company’s portfolio, seasonality of the promotional compound and possible impacts of the logistics process on the sales. The access to such information enables companies to “empower” these managers, relieving the costs with specialized personnel, and allows building a management team with professionals driven by the access to real-time online information, in a user-friendly format, accelerating its understanding of the results trend and the capability to guarantee it or even reverse it, according to the proper deadline.
The company focused on intelligent and proactive management instead of “empirical” and reactive to what happens in the field, must be guided by the creation of a corporate culture based on:
• Planning of your data registration process aiming it at the establishment of Key Indicators (“KPI”s)
• Structured access to the data by executives with analytical skill
• Definition of a corporative growth plan based on recorded history and from which KPIs should be established
• KPIs that must be widely spread along the management level of the key operation areas (Sales, Marketing and Logistics)
• Corporate culture focused on the daily and real-time management of results x KPIs
• Robust, flexible and reliable IT tools (systems, platforms) able to record sales data in real time, duly classified by Commercial Structure, Geographic Area, Sales Period / Campaign, Leadership Levels, Product Category (among other major classifications), and to share this information online for managers, so that they can be used analytical and strategically on time to drive positively the results.
This vision / culture based on structured processes and on an organized use of information, adds stability to the strategies teams out there, in the field – where things really happen in direct selling; but it is useless to deal with what “happens” in an unstructured, unorganized, empirical and casual way, without proper record and measurement. After all, the top management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” – even if is not actually from him, it is a maxim that is based on a classic concept, always current and inspirational.