Have a deep customer knowledge is key for any company. The best way to get it, is in the selling process. Where we will get info about customer´s problem o needs, buying frequency, urgency and procedure in this buying process, paying terms and conditions and any other topics that could help us to have a successful sale area and allow us to build a strong relationship. All this info is to be store by sales rep (and other salesforce people) in the famous CRM systems. Platforms that help companies to get the maximus ROI and sell with the best efficiency possible.
However, this is not applicable to all companies or sectors. These ones with direct customer contact could get “easily” this info, but what about those other without possibility to this direct customer contact? For sure, there will be a lot of examples, but I would like to talk about one of them main affected sector as they use a different business model. I am talking about Retail sector companies. All these have a different business mode, as there direct customer is a reseller. So, the end customer, the one the product is design to, has no direct contact with the company. In this business model, the process to get sales and customer info (mainly in the buying behaviour as I said) is more complicated. This is the moment for Point of Sales Management (PoS)
Each company handle this topic in different ways, but all of them (the one operating under this business model) is key. This would be the way to get info directly from the market, about customer and from our competitors. Point of sales management will be a control and validation of our product sales to the end customer by resellers.
In these cases, once the fabrication and distribution (logistic) process is over, the product will be place in a supermarket of shopping center. The end customer will go there in order to buy the products. So this will be the best spot to be to take the real pulse.
A lot of these companies use to have a point of sales management role (each company will name it in a different way) but functions will be similar in all of them. Gather information will be the one, that allow us to have deeper and broader customer knowledge and provide us the data to offer to the market the best possible solution, to a determine need. Also, this point will be the best place to control what customer think about our product and what are doing competitors better than us.
There are as much techniques as we could imagine, but mainly ones are interviews (to end customer, customer representative and other sales reps roles), stock control (own and products from competitors), mystery shopping, …
All these info will be similar to the one we will gather in a regular and direct selling process with an end customer. Should we consolidate that with the rest of sales and marketing company info? It seems it will be beneficial, although not all companies do it. There are different reason but the more “dangerous” one is “this company has been run always in this way”.
Let´s imagine all this information could be consolidated in the same repository than the rest of sales, marketing and commercial data. Other features we would like to have would be to access to the dataset in real time, get regular updates and get accurate marketing campaigns ROI, relation them with sales and opportunities. Is this Sci-fi? Not really, it is a EIS, enterprise information system that will help us to take better business decisions. Any general manager, and of course marketing senior manager, will desire to have this tool in place for improving their daily jobs. This would be the best option to jump one level (reseller) and gather direct customer, competitors and marketing information. The key, might be, only have a different approach if we would like to have different results. Improving this kind of processes and getting the clear and closer direct contact with customer, we will get a better and successful business model.