Skynamo sales app fastens the loose screws in the sales system
SafeTop is one of South Africa’s largest importers and distributors of fasteners and hardware products in the retail market. Offering over 4 000 quality product items suitable for both trade and DIY users, they have become a leader in the hardware industry through the philosophy that customer service comes first and company profits second. SafeTop’s key metric for sales success is the availability and delivery of stock orders in full and on time. This case study examines how the Skynamo mobile sales app resolves ineffective sales reporting and communication failures between managers, reps and customers to ensure clear communications, accurate data capturing, real-time stock reporting and correct invoicing, ordering and delivery.
Skynamo is used by 27 SafeTop sales managers, field sales reps and merchandisers across South Africa and Namibia and is integrated with their Syspro ERP system.
Disconnect between managers & reps
Managers found it difficult to maintain contact with reps during field visits. They had a rough idea of their daily travel routes, but didn’t always know how things were going and whether service delivery was going according to plan.
Although sales managers had a lot to offer reps in terms of customer information and selling strategies, they were unable to communicate it to them in real-time in a way that was relevant to their situation. “As experienced managers who have been working in the business for a long time, we often have a better idea of customer histories than our reps and are able to inform our people on how to deal with which customers, or what to remember when they visit different customers,” shares Adele Norman, Retail General Manager at SafeTop.
In the past, SafeTop’s sales communications were exclusively via fax and email and proved to be problematic as errors crept in and messages didn’t always reach intended destinations in time. The lack of a streamlined system caused a lot of confusion and admin processes lagged, resulting in many reps and merchandisers having to work into the evenings to complete tasks.
SafeTop did try a mobile order scanning system at one stage but experienced troubles with it. “It was just not very functional. It could take orders, but wasn’t user friendly and still produced paper receipts our reps had to carry. We were looking for something effective and uncomplicated,” recalls Norman.
Incomplete and undecipherable reports
Ineffective, disparate and mostly manual systems resulted in late or incomplete sales reporting. Those reps who did hand in their reports on time, did so with very little useful information. They found taking the time to fill out their reports properly too frustrating, time consuming, admin intensive and the reports never seemed to offer any advantages. It was reporting for reporting’s sake.
Reps used their own individual reporting styles which left managers and internal staff confused. Handwritten field notes further complicated this, as they were often undecipherable. “By the time the rep who drew up the original report is asked to confirm the correct details, they can’t remember exact details anymore or were already busy dealing with another customer. Reporting was simply inaccurate and as a result, unuseful,” shares a clearly frustrated Norman.
Gaining the competitive edge
Skynamo was the obvious choice for SafeTop as it was effective, uncomplicated and offered more than they expected at an affordable price. “The standard version gave us all the basics, plus further functions which we didn’t consider at first but realised would be very useful,” says Norman.
Reps were given the means to play a more active role in structuring and managing their own schedules and routines. Skynamo has reduced admin for the reps to a large degree and consolidated all SafeTop’s manual paperwork and checks into one system without overcomplicating things.
Reps can now fill out their orders in a digital format and log it in real-time. They are no longer dependent on others trying to decipher their hand-written notes and logging orders on their behalf. “The app is very user-friendly. It took our reps just one week to realise how beneficial it is to them and they were only too happy to embrace it,” says Norman.
Those reps who live further away and don’t come to the office on a regular basis are now as informed as those enjoying the luxury of visiting the office and meeting with managers more regularly. All reps have access to relevant information and all managers are updated on their reps’ activities and results on a regular basis.
"Skynamo’s got all these wow factors, but it is not intimidating to someone like myself who is not a tech-savvy person. There are so many functions and yet it is so uncomplicated."
Better managerial decision-making
Accurate, updated reports provide managers with a much better perspective of what is happening in the field making it easier to make good decisions and respond to problems with working solutions. “Management has improved so much, it’s incomparable,” shares a proud Norman.
Managers are now directly involved during store visits and display set-ups. SafeTop was able to align merchandiser KPIs with what is more useful to managerial decision-making.
“One example of such a KPI is taking photographs at every store display, giving managers direct access to in-store activities via the app. Managers can now see and comment on displays while a rep is doing a store visit. Managers are effectively able to assist in the set-up of store displays by making real-time comments on the photos uploaded by reps,” explains Norman.
Managers no longer interrogate, they coach
Conversations between managers and reps are now a lot more positive. Managers advise their reps rather than simply check-up on them. “We already know what is going on during their field visits, so our conversations no longer feel like interrogation sessions.”
“It is so great that our reps don’t need to face difficult questions or situations on their own anymore,” says Norman. Managers are more involved with what is happening in the field and there is now no need for them to leave their office in order to be out there with their reps. Managers can add coaching comments to rep reports via the Skynamo app during customer visits. This helps reps to engage with customers better.
Sorting out communication failures
SafeTop has had situations where customers called to complain about reps never visiting or not visiting regularly enough. Skynamo helped managers gain clarity on the reality of the situation thanks to Skynamo’s GPS technology which showed the dates, times and duration of the reps’ visits, as well as notes detailing the visit and whom they visited. In many cases, the reps did, in fact, visit these customers, but the customers who called were never there during visits and their colleagues never informed them about these visits.
“We’ve been able to diagnose these problems better. Had it not been for Skynamo, we would’ve likely come across as very unprofessional,” a relieved Norman tells us.
“Skynamo is such a dynamic tool, and I believe we’re still under-utilising it. We’re continually looking to implement new templates to use the app and software better,” says Norman.
Skynamo made it possible for SafeTop to maintain their competitive edge by providing a system that consolidates information and makes communication clear and easy. This resulted in better decision-making and better relationships within the sales team. Transparency translates into greater trust, better teamwork, satisfied customers and, ultimately, increased sales.