Case study

Interstat

Skynamo sales app helps Interstat colour within the lines

The Interstat case study shares how the Skynamo mobile sales app increased productivity by empowering reps with easier access to information, freeing up reps to spend more quality time with customers by reducing daily admin and by making meetings between reps and managers more productive thanks to the transparency and the trust it creates between them.

  • – 25-30% increase in productivity
  • – 1-2 hours less spent on admin
  • – 2-3 hours more spent with customers

Interstat opened in 1992 with the vision of controlling the supply of stationery to independent stationers along the entire coast of South Africa. Having since opened in all major cities along the coast, all their branches are 100% self-sufficient. All have stocked warehouses with an external sales team, internal sales team and warehouse team.

As wholesalers and distributors, Interstat sells all stationery related products to a combination of predominantly commercial, but also retail customers. Skynamo is used to document customer visits, for order-taking and quotations and for the delivery and collection of stock. It also stores up-to-date product brochures and price lists.

Before Skynamo

Face time with customers was lost 

Interstat management found it difficult to structure and monitor their reps’ working day without disrupting them and taking away from the time they could have spent with customers. “In an attempt to regulate that reps were working office hours, we had them come into the office in the morning and again in the afternoon, seeing customers in between. This took a lot away from time spent with customers, which added up to only about 3-4 hours per day,” explains Lisa Joao Campbell, Western Cape Sales Manager.

Reps were expected to fill out call reports, similar to a driver’s log sheet, indicating when and where they did customer visits. This was brought in and processed digitally by their telesales team at the end of the day. “Otherwise there was no way of monitoring when their work day started or when the first customer was visited,” adds Campbell.

Delayed info resulted in delayed deliveries

Order-taking was a slow and problematic process. A rep would be out for the day visiting customers and taking orders, and those orders would only be delivered to customers over the following day or two. Orders were taken on a  sales order pad to be processed by the office’s telesales team at the end of the working day.

This problem was made worse when reps went on long-distance regional visits stretching over three days. Orders taken on the road were faxed through to the office and, depending on when and if the fax reached the telesales team, could only then be processed. Deliveries could be sent out the next day, but only if orders were placed before 13:00.

Errors crept in due to non-standardised product names and price lists

“Reps carry catalogues listing product names and codes on the road with them, but because of our massive product range it would be incredibly time consuming to look up each product name as orders are taken.”

Interstat sells a great variety of very similar products, which means correctly identifying an individual product by name requires great attention to detail. Describing a black drawing pen, for instance, requires a rep to provide the exact brand name, point size, and model. Situations regularly occurred where incomplete order details were listed because a rep forgot to include small details like pack-size when they sold the exact same product in packs of 6, 12 and 24, for example. When telesales enquired about incomplete orders at a later stage, reps usually couldn’t remember or reference exact details anymore.

Another embarrassing error that crept in was quoting customers with outdated prices or with the wrong product price because of incomplete or incorrect product details provided to the telesales team. “There was no way for reps to check in real- time whether they were working with the latest prices.”

Adopting Skynamo

Reps enjoy better support

Reps are enjoying more back-end support from management. Skynamo provides reps with all the information they need at their fingertips.

“The GPS features guide us to our destinations in the most effective way and on those occasions when you do get a bit lost, you’re sure to find your way to a customer in time. Because my manager and I are always on the same page about where I’m at and what is happening there, they are more involved and able to support me in a useful manner from the back-office,” assures Interstat rep, Brandon Rix.

Reps are more independent

Not needing to come into the office every day means that reps can now operate routes on their own terms, so to speak. Reps avoid being on the road when traffic is congested or choose to visit outlying customers during inner-city peak-time traffic instead.

Reps don’t need to ring up the telesales team all the time to confirm prices. Skynamo enables them to write their own quotes and provide customers with other required information with greater confidence.

“It’s like walking around with a compact PC in my pocket. All the information I need is right there with me, it’s like sitting in front of my PC at the office but actually I’m at a client,” laughs Rix.

Admin is reduced, meetings are more productive

Admin is easier, and meetings are more productive because of the transparency that Skynamo creates.

“I spend 1-2 hours less on admin per day. It makes admin so much easier and less time- consuming for reps,” shares Rix. Campbell found the same to be true for her as a manager, adding that, “Because reports are produced quicker, I’m now using all that time I used to spend on reports on non-admin activities.”

Reps no longer need to visit the office as regularly as they used to before Skynamo. They’ll only go in once a week to touch base with management now compared to ten times a week previously when they needed to go in at the start of the day and at the end of the day every day.

Managers now receive a daily report from reps and can question matters of major importance immediately. These discussions are now a constant, everyday thing and no longer a build- up to the next sales meeting. “We’re constantly in contact, so our Friday meetings are relaxed times to share with each other how our weeks have been or comparing problems we ran into and thinking through what we might need to pay attention to going forward,” shares Campbell.

"We’re constantly in contact, so our Friday meetings are relaxed times to share with each other how our weeks have been or comparing problems we ran into and thinking through what we might need to pay attention to going forward."

Since Skynamo

Customers enjoy a more professional service – and that leads to more sales.

Confidence is instilled when customers ask questions about products and reps can immediately give them accurate information, write quotes and log orders on the spot.

Rix explains why his favourite feature on the Skynamo app is being able to access customer history and view the notes he made during previous visits to a customer:

“Before I enter a customer’s store, I open my history file and refresh my memory on what happened the last time I was there. I can immediately pick up the conversation from our last visit and give useful feedback concerning questions the customer had the previous time. Customers don’t always remember what was discussed in the past either, so sometimes it leads to a sale when you bring up a need they forgot to follow up on themselves.”

This communicates to the customer that reps, and in effect the company they represent, care about their business needs.

Products can now be delivered the same day.

Having all the information they need at their fingertips, reps are now able to answer questions more accurately and make more informed suggestions to customers.

Better access to updated price lists enables reps to know immediately when an order is too small in price for delivery. This allows reps to invite customers to add to their product basket while they’re there to assist them with further orders. Reps and customers now make better sales decisions together.

Interstat has also seen a significant decrease in order-to-delivery time. “Now, when we take an order in the morning or the earlier part of the day, orders are processed in real-time and customers will receive their products that same day.”

Face time with customers has now doubled

Reps spend two to three hours more per day with customers. This means the amount of time they spend on selling has doubled.

Interstat’s service level certainly stands out among their competitors. Skynamo allows reps to visit all their customers at least once a month, maintaining the necessary monthly visits to remain competitive. Retaining business in a very competitive industry is a win for Interstat.

“We are very finicky about doing customer visits and doing them consistently. It’s a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. The moment you start visiting a customer less, you can immediately see a drop in their buying patterns,” explains Campbell.

Seamless handover of customer relationships means a consistent experience for customers

Reps joining and leaving the company makes consistent quality service delivery more challenging. Two new reps have joined Interstat since Skynamo was first implemented and integrating new reps into the team has been surprisingly smooth.

“It was so easy to integrate new reps into the team because they simply carried on where the previous reps left off. All their earlier conversations and interactions with customers remain available in the history file.”

Similarly, the visiting cycle and level of service delivery are not disrupted when reps are off on sick or maternity leave. Colleagues can easily step in and cover for them while managers are also able to coach them from the back-office.

Productivity increased by at least 25%

Rix estimates that his productivity as a rep increased by about 25-30% now that he gets to each of his 100 customers at least once a month. “In the past, prior to using Skynamo, there was no way I’d be able to achieve that,” he shares.

Skynamo helped transform Interstat’s sales process so that they may continue their commitment to their founding principles of offering the finest quality products, providing the best service and operating with the highest level of integrity.