Your best sales reps know right away how to make automation work for them, but you may wonder whether the newer, less experienced members of your sales force are using your SFA solution to its full potential. Vantive Sales V.8 sets out to solve that problem by introducing best practices into its opportunity management. The latest version of Vantive's sales force automation software also introduces marketing automation and partner relationship management tools. And, according to the company, a new synchronization partnership will make mobile tie-in easier.
A Job Well Done
According to Marcus MacNeill, senior product manager for Vantive Sales, sales force automation systems often don't do enough to coach reps in the right way to perform a task. Although the best reps already know how to do their jobs, new and inexperienced reps often take months to figure it out. In Vantive's new opportunity management system, a graphic representation of the sales process illustrates the stages of the sales process and presents a list of tasks associated with each stage. Each task can be activated with just a single click. "The goal is to raise the batting average of the entire sales organization by making it clear where reps are in the sales process and what they have to do next," says MacNeill.
The solution shortens the learning curve in other ways, too. New reps can learn from past successes by searching the Vantive Encyclopedia to find similar opportunities. Knowledge tools can help them build a sales team appropriate for each situation. The Capture Insight knowledge tool captures knowledge about a product, competitor or industry and sends it around the organization. The Vantive Encyclopedia "push" server will automatically monitor user-designated documents, alerting reps of new information via their pagers, e-mail or a Web-based screen ticker.
Sales reps on the road can access the system with Vantive On-The-Go, a synchronization tool. In an effort to simplify the task of managing remote users, Vantive converted to Synchronologic synchronization technology last year. This functionality allows Vantive Sales users to access contacts, appointments and tasks through Palm Pilot or Windows CE devices.
"Understanding that no sales rep likes to fill out forms and process paper, Vantive designed its sales force solution to automate numerous administrative tasks."
The Color of Money
Clairol, a division of Bristol Myers Squibb and the number-one hair products company in the United states, implemented Vantive Sales in early 1998. The company's Colorist Satisfaction Department's 55-person sales force sells to and works with salon hair stylists on Clairol products. Each rep works with more than 600 salons, and Clairol uses Vantive Sales to support these reps. "Clairol needs to maintain a presence with customers," says Emily Gaudio-Rogalski, Clairol direct sales manager. "Augmenting our sales force is too expensive, so we use Vantive Sales to do some of the legwork more efficiently. It frees our sales reps up to sell and educate."
When a Clairol sales consultant visits a salon and takes an order, the order is entered into Vantive Sales back at headquarters. Colorist Satisfaction Department manager Miriam Guadalupe and her 18-person staff keep track of each order. They wait two weeks to make sure the salon has received and used the product and then they call up the customer to see if they are satisfied. "We want to make sure it was a good experience," says Guadalupe. "If it wasn't positive, we can turn the experience around." The department also checks in with each salon once a quarter, regardless of whether they have placed an order or not.
A Quick Trim
Understanding that no sales rep likes to fill out forms and process paper, Vantive designed its sales force solution to automate numerous administrative tasks. Integration with Microsoft Outlook gives reps a single screen for managing tasks, contacts, opportunities, schedules, e-mail and calendars. In addition, the solution has fulfillment features to send out literature, mailing capabilities to auto-populate letters and a workflow engine that routes tasks throughout the organization.
Many companies sell not only through a direct sales force, but also through a network of reselling partners. Vantive Sales has a partner desktop module that lets manufacturers work more closely with partners. The partner desktop is Web-based, and partners can come in 24 hours a day through a standard browser. The relationship is bi-directional. If a reseller rejects a lead, the system takes that lead and reassigns it. "Prior versions of Vantive Sales kept track of partners, recording what training they had received or what their forecasts were," says MacNeill. "But we still had to communicate offline. Now, over the Internet, channel partners have easy access to leads and opportunities."
Clairol uses Vantive Sales for certain marketing activities as well. One way the company promotes its products is by encouraging sales consultants to hold educational seminars to teach salons how to use its products. Using Vantive Sales, the Colorist Satisfaction Department handles enrollment for these events. The centralized Vantive database also allows Clairol to track salons that use Clairol, as well as the market segments of salon customers. This information is valuable for recording salon trends. In addition, Vantive manages fulfillment of hair care mailings and campaign management for the marketing department.
While Vantive defines the marketing functionality of Vantive Sales as "lightweight," in the last year it has taken steps to beef up its marketing automation offerings by forming partnerships with vendors like Epiphany, Rubric and Annuncio. The company clearly sees the inter-relationship of sales force and marketing automation systems. "In the past, marketing automation didn't get the same kind of attention as sales automation," says MacNeill. "But the landscape has changed, and marketing automation without a link to sales automation is not profitable."