Thursday, December 13, 2018

Case Study: Sales Targeting at all Levels

Key Challenges

   Create an improved workflow for managing sales targets.
   Create a web-based data application that sales managers and executives can access and modify.
   Incorporate new functionality into the already-familiar Excel environment.

A Better Way to Track Sales Targets

Sales targets, perhaps more than any other business metric, reflect the intersection of the existing status of your business with what you hope to achieve. “How much of our product can we sell this quarter?” is a question that spans the entirety of previous, current, and planned efforts. Engineers design and build products, product managers improve products’ appeal and capabilities, and marketing activities attract new clients. The sales team is directly responsible for transforming all this labor into tangible gains. But at the center of all this, well, work, is the fact that running a successful business is about more than just producing a great product—it requires concerted effort and successful communication from individuals across multiple business divisions. Sales targets are a crucial final form of communication before a product is sold to a customer. Sales targets inform management and sales teams of performance expectations, allowing the management team to set clear goals and the sales team to meet those goals.

Our client needed a system that would allow their sales teams to upload sales targets for different products across varying geographies and segments. Their existing solution, a collection of Excel spreadsheets, presented a significant challenge. To broadcast sales targets across the company, sales managers and sellers recorded sales targets into spreadsheets. This process was repeated until all the sales targets were recorded, then the spreadsheets were collated and consolidated. Next, the spreadsheets were manually dumped into SQL sources without an approval workflow. This resulted in several challenges for our client. First and foremost, our client did not have the technical capability to directly push data to their data sources. More importantly, they could not manage their sales target workflow via data sources. Our client’s sales managers and sellers needed to be able to contribute to the workflow so that their sales targets could be authenticated and directly approved by the sales managers and upper management. As a result, our solution needed to convert the data from the Excel spreadsheets into a web-based application that sales managers and executives could access and use.

Our Process

Because our primary goal was to enable sales managers and sellers to upload and view sales targets across different geographies and segments, the usability of our solution was of the utmost importance. We needed to equip sales managers and sellers to individually authenticate their sales targets on a platform accessible to all. This, in turn, meant that whatever solution we proposed needed to immediately improve the everyday working conditions of the sales managers and sellers. Our solution needed to be intuitive, and adoption had to be instantaneous. We also knew our client’s sales managers and sellers already used Excel every day. As a result, we developed an MVC framework Excel Office app that utilized a SQL backend.

Challenges of Scale

Our initial implementation was tremendously successful. It was this success, in fact, that led to the most significant challenge that accompanied the project. We designed our solution explicitly for subsidiary-level sales managers, but following our implementation of the app, our client requested that we expand access to the app to include sales unit managers. When these managers attempted to examine multiple geographies and segmentations within the app, reports took far too long to load. To address this issue, we customized the amount of data that users needed to load depending on their job role. Now, sales managers were first presented with a report customized to their job role and geography, though they could still generate reports uniquely suited for their needs if a project took them beyond their typical responsibilities.

Empowered Sales Managers

Our Excel app helps 6,000 users upload their sales targets every day. The feedback we received on the project gives us a great deal of pride: “Your app empowered our sales managers and sellers to manage their targets effectively, and it immediately made their lives easier.” Because we are a consulting company, all our solutions require us to understand our clients’ problems as our own. The fact that our solution immediately made our client’s sales managers working lives better meant that we were well in tune with our client’s needs.