Field Sales Force Automation on Cloud

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 3028 , Published on 25 June 2013

For every business model sales is one of the key aspects for its success. The challenging sales environment in today’s marketplace mandates the need to have a comprehensive field Sales Force system for diverse processes of order & trade marketing functions. These include order functions such as inventory control, sales processing, and trade marketing functions like tracking of customer interactions, customer audits, survey, as well as analysing sales forecasts and performance. The complexity further increases when there are disparate enterprise systems that manage the order and customer relationship independently while the same field force personnel perform the physical execution. SFA not only concentrate on sales but also sync up the production process with actual market demand. With the historical data this will also done some analysis on actual market demand and maximize the profitability. In nutshell SFA will contrite on actual market demand and production process and regulate the manpower allocation and production/ procurement process to meet the profit maximization and resource maximization.

In this paper I have taken pharmaceuticals as our target market area but this can be applicable for all the FMCG goods market where product dealings and customer relationship is vital for market promotion. Another aspect of this solution is that this will provide different reports as to-do kind of steps which should be taken on different business critical situation.

Background and related work

Several research works have been done on ERP systems in recent years. Vouk et al described how North Carolina State University Virtual Computing Laboratory (VCL) technology can be used to implement data centres to provide IT services.

Problem area

Motivation for this system comes from actual problem faced in pharmaceutical market. Point wise problems are as follows…

  1. Misplaced data.
  2. Order to delivery lead-time is long
  3. Cash collected does not tally with receipts.
  4. Customer is not around during sales call.
  5. Manual van inventory reconciliation problem
  6. Education of channel/ customer on trade promotion
  7. Applying promotions during order taking/ van sales.
  8. Sales representatives covering their universe of customer and tracking visits & activities.
  9. Tracking Sales Team, Market Research


In addition to the above challenges, the quality of the data captured at the field level is poor. Another major problem of field force management system is managing the sales person and total sales process as they worked on out of office premises, so tracking/updating them is most important task.

Workdlow of the business model

Now I present a possible workflow of the business models how the proposed system can help the business model.


  • Ability to plan the route
  • up-to-date access to customers information
  • Access to sales history.


  • Customer relationship management
  • On time delivery
  • Visibility to activities and transactional level data.


Distributors/ Back office

  • Better management/visibility of sales revenue.
  • Multiple reports-planning and analysis
  • Better stock management.

How it works

The solution is geared to address the various activities of CRM, direct store delivery and route accounting across the pharmaceutical/FMCG/CPG segments.

These applications manage and automate the activities of distributors/sales representatives.

The technology framework underlying the solution is robust/scalable, works across a mix of field level devices ranging from laptops to handheld devices. Additionally, the solution platform independent the device is running on. The solution interfaces with, CRM systems. The communication of data from the device to the office is supported across all available network protocols from LAN. WAN to GPRS. This solution will also include java/android solution for web Service and Cloud computing. The proposed solution also includes run on disconnected mode and compatibility with digital pen device.

Integration With Other technology

Cloud Computing: This results in zero maintenance for the customer on the hardware or infrastructure front.

NewsPage EXPRES: NewsPage EXPRES merchandising is a solution that allows for timely delivery of retail merchandising information to the business owners.

Digital Pen Device: Eliminates the need for posting, faxing, or keying data into a computer.

Elements of SFA

The subsequent section describes the different elements that constitute a SFA

Sales Team/ Territory Management

Effective territory management is required to maximize the number of customers that can be visited by the field force. A planned route is used for the field force that would outline the customers to be visited and the various activities that are to be performed.



The advantages are:

  1. Assign proper positions to appropriate point of sales
  2. Manage inventory efficiently, track stock.
  3. Set targets for the positions and assign them stock prior
  4. Effectively Direct Store Delivery.
  5. Automating the process of Sales and merchandising
  6. Territory re-alignment options.

Data Management

The automated sales system should have a sound way of tracking and the business house launches promoting various products that.

In the system various price list of the products are maintained. This is used for various categories of customer.

Customer Data Management

The ultimate goal for any business is Customer satisfaction. Thereby to build and maintain an efficient customer rapport in an organization the SFA system should allow procurement and maintenance of various customer data. Like…

  1. Geographical territory to which the customer belongs


  1. The contracts that the customer has with the business, its terms/conditions should be stored in the customer screen.
  2. The customers should also be classified based on the volume of cigarettes they sell, type of business, quality.

Store Execution

The store execution includes the various activities that is done at customer POS. they are

Merchandising activities: the merchandising activities include

  1. Keeping track of the POSM installed or removed from a customer POS.
  2. Procure data from the customer about classification.
  3. Rewarding the customer based on the points accumulated.
  4. Creating new customer through census survey.

Sales Activities: the sales activities encompass various types of sales/purchases that are present in the system.

  1. Directly selling products to the customer.
  2. Selling to the customer directly.
  3. Collecting order first and then delivering goods in a different visit.


This helps the CMO drive revenue and manage the sales and marketing organizations more effectively.

Marketing transformation strategy: improves marketing efficiency and effectiveness, delivering measurable performance improvement and increased profitability.

–        Improve depth of customer insight by driving greater awareness and understanding of customer behaviour

–        Conceptualise solutions/products that can be delivered on new channels.

–        Manage brand equity through brand reengineering


Marketing automation: Strategy for integrating the entire marketing value chain on an integrated platform

This includes

–        Marketing automation

–        Leverage Marketing Resource Management and Enterprise Market Management.

–        Automation & Marketing Value Chain integration

–        EMM defines a category of software to manage the marketing end-to-end internal processes.

–        IMM explores the key business benefits from integrating people, processes and technologies.

Multi-channel campaign management : Develop a profit driven database marketing/campaign management strategy.

This includes

–        Manage leads and communications across segments, channels, and products, offers.

–        Recommendations for event triggering and real-time inbound and outbound communications.

–        Online Marketing and Sales.

Customer retention management: Design strategies for profitable customer retention based on deep market and customer insights.

–        Reduce churn and enhance retention of profitable customers and loyalty Management.

–        Strategy for loyalty marketing through the customer lifecycle.

–        Web analytics, Social media analytics and brand & reputation analysis

–        Prioritization and readiness planning.

Solution Guideline

The above challenges call for the design of a robust system, which could cater to all of the above requirements/maintain them in the system efficiently.

An application is required which could capture all the required data and process these data reducing time for the field force to execute the activities and target for business.

As a solution, an application has been built using client-server architecture that caters to these requirements and has the following features:

–        In the form of a Geo Tree definition efficient territory management is done. The customers are assigned to the leaf level of the Geo tree.

–        Use of laptops and handheld device to work offline during the visits to the customer.

–        There is provision for route planning that allows targeting of maximum possible.

–        Questionnaires in the form of Call cards are used to capture the field data for the customer.



The proposed system if successfully implemented can bring about a large set of customers, as the system actually is required for any enterprise across the globe. The user doesn’t have to pay the price of a single user system as with conventional FSF Automation application. The user will be benefitted by all the advantages of cloud computing. With continuous effort this application can be bring in solve the difficulties of many small or medium scale enterprises.

The article has been authored by Shibaji Sanyal, IBM India Pvt Ltd


[1]      M. A. Vouk, A. Rindos, S. F. Averitt, J. Bass, M. Bugaev, A. Kurth, A. Peeler, H. E. Schaffer, E. D. Sills, S. Stein, J. Thompson, and M. Valenzisi. 2009. Using VCL technology to implement distributed reconfigurable data centers and computational services for educational institutions. IBM J. Res. Dev. 53, 4 (July 2009), 509-526.



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