Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Business Technology

Currently, the world is experiencing a transition spurt. Technology is transforming businesses rapidly and disrupting entire sales processes. From prospecting to closing, today’s big data, cloud technologies, and digital media are revamping the entire sales process in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

As a result, many sales organizations are embracing new technologies to drive their productivity, profitability, and competitive advantage. Developments like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, are redefining success for the sales profession. Here’s exploring how some sectors are adapting technology at an organizational level to stay ahead of the curve.

FMCG

Mondelez India’s Praveen Dalal thanked customers for their brand loyalty and explained: “Organizationally, our action was based on three broad pillars – Agility, Learning and Adaptability. Our primary objective was to respond speedily to situational developments and ensure product availability in order to retain customers. We used virtual collaboration tools to ramp up internal communication and collaboration.

We used AI to optimize our sales strategy. Since COVID changed our consumption patterns, we resorted to AI for predictive demand sensing in terms of channel and geography, and then, reallocation of resources as per the prediction. We moved to remote selling means which involves over a million outlets. Today, our remote sales team is bagging conversions supported by chatbots and aided by WhatsApp ordering.”

Manufacturing, Fashion & Retail

All these three sectors have been negatively impacted by COVID. Grasim’s Dr. Suraj Bahirwani said:

“Although our tech-journey started earlier, now it has picked up steam. Due to the current crisis, more people have started believing in the power of technology. Now, we want to now embrace technology as a culture and incorporate it in the company DNA. We are leveraging technology at multiple dimensions – productivity, efficiency, and customer service.

AI-led production planning – how, where, and what we produce – has enabled us to improve our margins. Tech tools has helped us in maintaining our service level and creating digital intimacy to help our customers in their demand forecasting and their supply chain integration. We are leveraging technology to train our sales team and keep them abreast of the COVID led changes so that they can communicate the same to our clients, who now want to stay updated on every aspect. We have also increased our band communication to build trust and reaffirm the value proposition for our brand.”

Technology is integral to the fashion industry; its use begins right from the inception of a new idea. From fabric creation to manufacturing to timely delivery of products at the point of sale – technological intervention optimizes every step. Lacoste’s Rajesh Jain summed it up nicely:

“Availability of the right product at the right time is essential to the fashion world and technology makes it possible. At the supply chain level, we use ERP that enables direct communication between central warehouse and point of sale allowing unification of inventory. Earlier marketing was a generic initiative, but with Digital Marketing we can communicate directly to the specific target customer-base at a lower cost. In retail, e-commerce has helped us expand our customer base considerably. Most of our retailers are in the initial stages of implementing Omnichannel which enables us to service customers wonderfully.”

IT, Cloud & Software Service Providers

Companies like Cisco, SAS, and Anaplan are tech-enablers that are helping enterprises to transform their business models in the current scenario. Being service providers, they have extended a helping hand to their customers. Empathy has been the key strategy in current times. Their key focus is to retain existing customers by providing them solutions to immediate problems like how to repurpose their workforce or how they can have a quick liquidity cash-flow model and assisting companies to transition smoothly to remote working set-ups without security breaches.

In conclusion, it can be said, post-COVID, sales as a vertical will experience a paradigm shift. In the words of SAP India’s Brishketu Vatsa:

“In the Post COVID era India will grow in a “Phygital” sense – neither totally physical nor totally digital – it will be somewhere in the middle. The relationship that used to exist between customer and salesperson has to now co-exist with the digital channel. Human touchpoints will make way for digital touchpoints. Businesses will need a lot of learning to develop an understanding of technology and bring the right technology at the right touchpoint. It will also need process redefining and now is the perfect time to implement such changes.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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