December 16, 2023

Enhancing Sales Efficiency: A Strategic Analysis of CRM Implementation in Data Solutions for the Consumer Goods Industry

Enhancing Sales Efficiency: A Strategic Analysis of CRM Implementation in Data Solutions for the Consumer Goods Industry

1. Introduction:

Before implementing Salesforce, the market data provider struggled with the challenges of accommodating different product schedules within the system they were using before. Each business unit had unique sales processes, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of standardized practices. With distinct sales processes and the need for a unified overview, the company invited a group of Salesforce professionals on a journey to optimize its sales operations and enhance forecasting accuracy. Key goals were:

  • Real-time target monitoring and reporting
  • Accurate Opportunity Pipeline
  • Marrying multiple sales processes in one org

Main Salesforce features used to achieve the goal:

  • Opportunities
  • Contact roles
  • Products
  • Product schedules
  • Approval processes
  • SAP Integration

2. Strategic Use of Salesforce Opportunities:

Salesforce Opportunities played a pivotal role in this transformation. Unlike using Leads, the decision was made to rely exclusively on Opportunities, providing a more streamlined approach to managing the sales pipeline. Incorporating Accounts and Contact Roles proved instrumental in understanding the nuanced roles that different client contacts played in each deal. 

Contact roles included:

  • Business sponsor - person who was responsible for the budget
  • Analyst - the person responsible for the required data structure
  • Decision maker - the person making the final decision whether to buy our data or not

Introducing different contact roles on opportunities helped me understand the different people involved in making the deal from the client’s side. Knowing who was playing on the other side of the court made it easier to adjust the salesman's approach to communication and provide different values depending on who the key person in the discussion was at the time. 

3. Understanding Product Schedules:

Product schedules emerged as critical in managing diverse offerings across business units. They served as a mechanism to address the intricacies of each unit's product timelines. Scheduling was especially important for long-term contracts to understand money flow. Most of the standard contract schedules were paid all at once, bi-yearly, quarterly, bi-monthly (every other month), and monthly. 

But what are product schedules? Product schedules in Salesforce are a powerful tool for organizations to manage the complexities of revenue recognition and product delivery. They provide a structured framework for tracking quantities and revenue associated with products, contributing to more accurate forecasting and financial planning.

Product schedules are particularly useful in scenarios where revenue recognition and product delivery occur at different points in time or are spread across multiple periods.

4. SAP Integration

Having Salesforce integrated with SAP was very important. All finance-related topics were handled on the SAP side, where the source of truth for data was. Upon moving to closed-won status, all opportunities were migrated to SAP with all the product information, number of products, and, most importantly, product schedules. Based on that information, finance would then be issuing invoices to clients. You can only imagine how important data quality was in this case. To achieve that, we’ve implemented two solutions. First, all opportunities moved to closed-won status were locked for editing on the Salesforce side. The second was a very specific approval process, which I will discuss at length in the following paragraph.

5. Finance approvals

Salesforce approvals for Opportunities provide a structured way to manage and control the sales process within your organization. By setting up approval processes, you can define rules and conditions that must be met before an Opportunity can progress to the next stage. This ensures that deals are reviewed and approved by the appropriate stakeholders, maintaining control and adherence to your business processes. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use Salesforce approvals: Build an approval process

To explain how we’ve leveraged that functionality, I would have to go a little deeper on the stages of opportunity we were using. All the new opportunities had their status defaulted to Discovery, and the probability was set to 10% (to learn about Salesforce probability, go here). Then there was solution design (25%), estimation (50% - at this stage, users were also obliged to add products), negotiations (90%), and closed-won/lost, respectively 100 and 0%. 

When, as a user, I would move the opportunity from negotiations to closed won status, an approval process would be triggered, and the opportunity would be assigned to our finance team. They’ve had a special, limited license, a money saver that allowed them to check every little detail of those opportunities. The mandatory step for the sales reps was to include a signed contract or, in case of ad-hoc sales, a written acceptance of the deal. Based on that, finance would check if all the details from the opportunity align with the products and their schedules on the opportunity. Upon approval, the status would be automatically changed to closed-won without further action from the sales department. 

6. Results and Achievements:

Implementing Salesforce for managing diverse product schedules yielded quantitative and qualitative results. Forecasting accuracy improved significantly, providing a more reliable basis for strategic decision-making. Real-time visibility into quarterly targets empowered the sales teams to make informed decisions promptly. Positive feedback from sales teams and stakeholders underscored the success of the Salesforce implementation.

In conclusion, the transformative impact of Salesforce on the FMCG market data provider's sales processes cannot be overstated. The adaptability and scalability of Salesforce proved instrumental in addressing the unique challenges posed by diverse product schedules. The success of this implementation serves as a testament to the strategic use of CRM solutions in streamlining operations and fostering growth in a dynamic industry.

As always, if you want to learn how we can help you streamline your sales process and help you achieve the highest results, do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience. 

We’re here to listen, advise and act. Regardless of which business processes you want to improve, we can help.

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