Each day salespeople and managers slog through hours of paperwork when they could be calling on clients. Fortunately, software tools can make it easier to perform tasks like expense reporting, special events tracking, territory realignment and activity reporting.
To help you research how the latest software can improve your sales force management efforts, you will find below an explanation of five functions and features that should be part of an enterprise-wide CRM program's sales force management module. Also included is a short list of vendors that may deserve further investigation in your search for the right solution.
Expense reporting tracks travel and accommodation expenses for representatives. Expenses can be calculated using flat, domestic or foreign rates for accommodation, mileage and so on. Expenses can be tracked by date, type, payer, receipt confirmation, representative, account, project, opportunity and amount of expense along with expense status (e.g., submitted, open or paid). Expenses can also be attached to campaigns to measure ROI and cost per lead. Specific data such as a sales forecast can be required of a user in order to submit an expense report to receive payment.
An automated expense reporting tool can be used for more than just reducing the time a sales rep spends on administrative tasks. Business rules can be written that require a sales rep to submit specific information such as a call report or a sales forecast before getting approval for his or her expenses. One thing to keep in mind-for the system to deliver the expected cost savings from an automated expense reporting system, it must be integrated with the back office server.
The following programs exemplify comprehensive expense reporting: Avenue v. 5.0 by Saratoga Systems; Client Management Software v. 4.0 by ON! Contact Software Corporation; Enterprise Series v. 6.9 by Data Code, Inc.; ExSellence for TeamWorks v. 3.1 by Optima Technologies; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.
This regular column is based on how-to advice and software reviews that have been taken from ISM's Guide To Sales, Customer Service & Marketing Automation. After testing of hundreds of packages, ISM has established selection criteria for software that takes into account business functionality, technical features and user-friendliness issues. The guide includes eight categories: customer service, contact management, account management, sales force management, time management, telemarketing/telesales, marketing and executive information. For more information, point your browser to www.ismguide.com or call (800) SFA-GUIDE or (301) 656-8448.
Territory alignment/assignment can be used to automatically assign a lead or account to a sales representative or sales team by product, service, ZIP code, region, state and other user-defined criteria. A graphical user interface allows the user to view a list of representatives and to drag and drop accounts from one rep to another. Business rules can be set to override an assignment via access rights for manual assignment.
The following programs exemplify comprehensive territory alignment/assignment: Applix v. 7.4 by Applix, Inc.; IntellAgent Control System v. 4.7 by IntellAgent Control Corporation; Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Netgain Sales v. 2.0 by Firstwave Technologies, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship 99 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; SalesLogix Sales Information System v. 3.0 by SalesLogix Corporation; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; Vantive Sales 8.0 by The Vantive Corporation; WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.
Activity reporting tracks activities by date, time and assigned representative as well as third-party influencers, participants, company, contact or opportunity. Activities that are assigned to other team members can be forwarded to each assignee via e-mail to inform individuals of their assigned tasks. Assignees can notify the team when a task is complete and record the results accordingly in the activity history. The sales team manager is notified via e-mail or an activity check-off box. Non-team members such as business partners can be associated with an activity to ensure they follow up regarding a lead that was routed to them. Predefined and user-defined activity reports can be generated via query-by-example or through integration with a third-party reporting package such as Crystal Reports or Infomaker.
The following programs exemplify comprehensive activity reporting: Client Management Software v. 4.0 by ON! Contact Software Corporation; IntellAgent Control System v. 4.7 by IntellAgent Control Corporation; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.
Automatic roll-up supports reporting (e.g., sales, opportunity forecasts) by rolling an individual's sales, revenue or forecast data up to a team's data set, which can then be rolled higher to a territory, a region and/or a country. Roll-up of data should be transferable. For example, multiple divisions of a company can be rolled up into one account, although the divisions belong to different territories. This transfer of data provides more than one option for analysis of data to measure campaign effectiveness.
The following programs exemplify comprehensive automatic roll-up: Applix v. 7.4 by Applix, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship 99 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; UniverSell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.
Special Events Tracking
Special events tracking supports the management of events such as a press conference, a tradeshow, a seminar or any other type of event that involves tracking a list of attendees, travel accommodations, special equipment (e.g., projector, sound system), catering, space reservation (e.g., conference room, floor space) as well as the tracking of survey responses to measure level-of-product interest and value-of-event to the attendees.
Special events tracking can be performed from one screen that can be configured to track activities related to a specific type of an event. The use of a template containing predefined tabs and fields can be configured specifically for a seminar and other events, such as trade shows and press conferences. Action items supported with automatic triggers can be used to ensure that each step is completed and that the event is managed in a timely fashion. This type of tracking lets the user compare an event's effectiveness to other events by measuring the return on investment (ROI) of each.
The following programs exemplify comprehensive special events tracking: Abalon Customer Management Solution v. 3.8 by Astea International; Applix v. 7.4 by Applix, Inc.; Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship 99 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Sales Continuum 98 by Pipestream Technologies, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; TakeControl 99 by Firstwave Technologies, Inc. '