Assessing sales processes in emerging markets

Our organization is often called upon to evaluate the sales function and processes for a company’s Route-to-Market system. Here are a number of issues to consider when you are assessing your sales function and processes:

  1. Responsibility – Define who is responsible for the order generation. Beyond order generation, also determine what other activities the salesman is responsible for. Each activity will take time to do effectively.
  2. Type of selling system – Determine the type of selling system employed by the company, e.g. telephone-sell, pre-sell, or direct. Determine the reasons for using this type of selling system for the selected channels.
  3. Channel profile – Assess if sales people have a clear understanding of the outlet base and what an outlet looks like. In some cases salesmen can walk or drive past an outlet as they don’t consider it a potential outlet.
  4. In-outlet time – Often in-outlet time will be determined by the type of channel, e.g. modern trade vs. traditional trade, the size of the customer and the required service. A time study can shed light on how long it takes to service a customer. It can also measure travel time and determine value adding and non-value adding activities.
  5. Processes – Determine if processes are well defined. Map out the product, cash and information flow. Determine if there are any bottlenecks in the system. Also, review the reverse flow, e.g. product returns. Companies need to standardize processes and systems to reduce set-up and training costs.
  6. Scheduling and routing – Assess if salesmen have a clear route schedule and whether they have well defined routes. In emerging markets, you often have high turnover of sales staff. It adds to the complexity if new sales people struggle to find the outlets.
  7. Documentation – Determine if the sales people have the required documentation to conduct their job effectively, e.g. settlement documents. Also, review standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs simplify your business procedures. In emerging market, operations often lack critical skills. Don’t make any assumptions about what people can and cannot do.
  8. Information technology & data – Review the information technology employed by the company. In emerging markets, companies are likely to use manual processes. These systems are less integrated. In many operations hardcopy paper flow will remain and will likely coexist with information technology systems.
  9. Success – Establish what success looks like for the salesman and determine how you will measure success, including the required supervision and tracking mechanisms.
  10. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Review the key performance indicators tracked by the sales team.

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