In the retail industry, managing salespeople is a big challenge. Customers interact with sales personnel via email, social media, text, and phone calls – leaving little to no paper trail. And, since retailers carry out a large proportion of their business online, visibility into performance is even more critical.
In response to this need, WEBLAZA designed a solution which leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the sales process by providing a transparent view of each individual’s performance. By using a combination of virtual assistants, video analysis, and natural language processing (NLP), the system brings together all the essential functions needed to create and follow up on sales.
The Journey To E-Selling
Foxtel’s Mike Schafer notes that the evolution of retail sales has been shaped by the digital revolution and the rise of e-commerce. For centuries, retail sales were conducted primarily via face-to-face interactions. However, with the development of the internet and online marketplaces, all of a salesperson’s interactions become trackable and accessible to their manager, ultimately changing the way sales professionals and retailers operate.
Consumers have become more sophisticated, aware of the value they get from shopping online versus in a physical store. Forrester’s Consumer Wave Insight reports that 73% of consumers now regularly shop online vs. 20% who shop in physical stores – the highest level of web and mobile shopping ever recorded. And the vast majority of these shoppers (70%) prefer to research products online before purchasing them in-store.
Accordingly, the sales process has changed. From a face-to-face conversation between a customer and a salesperson to one (or more) of the following:
• An email introducing a customer to a brand or product,
• A phone call,
• A chat conversation via web or mobile apps,
• A display ad on a brand or product website, or
• A purchase made online or via a mobile app.
In this ever-evolving world, the old methods of collecting sales data and keeping track of performance no longer suffice. Today’s salesperson must be able to access all of their sales data – from leads to conversions – in one place, using an intuitive user interface.
Why Should You Track Your Salesforce.com Activities?
It’s estimated that around 40% of Fortune 500 companies use Salesforce.com for their business operations. With this in mind, it’s clear that many large-scale applications have been built on top of the Salesforce platform. But what is the value of this information houndstooth_design]?
From a sales perspective, knowing the effectiveness of your efforts and the progress you’re making towards your goals is of paramount importance. In addition, tracking your activities and performance allows you to find areas for improvement and examine the actions of your team. This, in turn, can highlight areas of strength and drive future business success.
What Do You Need To Track Your Sales?
With the exception of leads, which we’ll discuss in more detail below, most activities can be tracked using a few simple metrics. Here are the essential items you need to track:
• Closed deals (or contracts or orders),
• Site visits,
• Conversions (i.e. the percentage of leads which convert to sales or sign-ups), and
• Average deal value (i.e. the average sale or sign-up value).
Along with these metrics, you should also track the following items:
• The date the deal was closed,
• The source of the lead (e.g. social media or email),
• The medium of the lead (e.g. email or social media),
• Details on the deal, such as the sale or sign-up page the lead landed on after visiting your website, the product or brand the lead is interested in purchasing, the offer submitted, and so on,
• User generated content (e.g. website posts, social media feeds, etc.)
• The performance of your ad campaigns (e.g. clicks, impressions, etc.),
• Online reviews (both positive and negative) for your products or services, and
• The total number of customers (regardless of whether they’re online or offline).
How Does This Information Help You?
The items listed above will help you examine and improve your overall performance as a Salesforce.com user. For example, if you notice that your site visits are increasing but your conversions are staying the same, this could be a sign that you’re losing business due to poor SEO. Or, if you notice that your conversions are declining, this could mean that customers are becoming less interested in your products or services.
Having all of this information in one place allows you to easily identify weak spots in your strategy and take the necessary steps to improve. Furthermore, it’s easy to track these metrics over time and examine how you’re doing compared to previous periods. In other words, this data allows you to benchmark your performance and track your progress – both of which are essential if you want to succeed as a growing business.
How Does This Information Differ From Traditional Data Collection?
Although it’s great to have as much information as possible, this data comes with a few drawbacks. First, in order to track these metrics, you’ll need to have a robust Salesforce.com setup – a feat which only a small percentage of businesses are capable of achieving. And, even then, it requires a certain level of technical competence to pull this all together. This is in contrast to relying on manual data collection, where your only duty is to enter the information into a spreadsheet every month.
Secondly, while most businesses track productivity using only a handful of metrics, tracking every aspect of your sales process in this manner can prove to be extremely time-consuming. For this reason, small businesses and entrepreneurs may find the idea of tracking every aspect of their business – from leads to conversions to customer satisfaction – to be overwhelming. In these situations, using a tool like Salesforce.com which simplifies this process can be extremely beneficial.
Why Should You Try To Simplify The Sales Process?
As noted above, customers are researching products online before buying them in-store. To follow these shoppers and gain more sales, you must have a clear idea of how to introduce a product or service to a potential customer via email, social media, text, or a display ad.
The problem is that, since the sales funnel starts way before any of these avenues of communication come into play, it’s challenging to track which method of advertising led to a sale. And even when the order is placed, the paper trail stops – leaving you no further information other than the fact that a sale took place.
To solve this, businesses use a tool like Salesforce.com to create virtual ledgers of all their sales activity. By entering a product or service name and coupon code in the search bar, you’ll be presented with a list of closed deals, along with other information such as lead source, date, product name and price. The field under which you’ll see the most conversions is usually the one which asks for the customer’s email address. By having this information, you’ll be able to follow up with the customer and have a record of the entire interaction.
Because most businesses rely on paperless transactions and email marketing for lead generation and customer relationships, having a robust Salesforce.com setup becomes essential. And, as the old saying goes, “no system is perfect – but they’re all better than they need to be” – the same goes for this one.