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Sunday, April 14, 2013

At Cadbury's, all went on a sales call

This story first appeared in DNA Money edition on Monday, Feb 4, 2013.

Is sales all about selling and servicing?

Chocolate maker Cadbury India, for one, seems to believe it is possible to put the sales function to various other uses, including gauging consumer buying behaviour, increasing visibility and footprint, and even creating demand – transforming an art into a science, as it were.

“The approach is crucial if sales as a function has to deliver expectations and the organisation’s wider vision,” said Sunil Taldar, director - sales and international business of Cadbury India.

“Besides, the Indian retail sector is undergoing significant changes and hence a lot of our focus is on display and compelling in-store execution through perfect stores. As our products are mainly in the impulse buying category, creating an overall shopping experience by making the entire product range available in the perfect stores is crucial. We also work towards prioritising the channel and retail environment that will give maximum traction,” he said.

In view of the growing intensity of competition in the Indian fast-moving consumer goods space, Cadbury India — a subsidiary of Mondelez International, the $32 billion global snacking major formed in October last year after Kraft Foods decided to split its confectionery and grocery businesses into independently listed companies — has over the last few years effected significant changes in the way its sales staff approach the market.

“Creating a seamless, two-way procedure in terms of flow of sales and related information from the company to its distributors and the sales staff booking orders from the retailers” plays a very important part, said another official.

To this end, the company has armed its distributors with touch-screen hand-held devices embedded with proprietary software to ensure smooth and timely flow of information in the distribution channel.

The device gives the sales representative at the distributor end access to all the information about retailers in his area of operation, purchase history (including products and number of units bought, etc). It also allows him to book new orders across product categories without the hassle of making manual notes or filing a purchase order book at the end of the day.

This gives the company a clear understanding of what kind of demand is getting generated, how various products and the stock at the distributors’ end is moving across the retail network that boasts of over 800,000 outlets across the country.

“All the sales representative has to do is download the day’s activity on the distributor’s computer (that also has a proprietary billing software and is connected to Cadbury’s servers) and a purchase order gets generated automatically. This saves a lot of time, while ensuring there is no room for error in the entire process,” a company official explained at the Sales Revolution Day organised by the company on Friday.

The event, yet another strategic initiative, gave the company’s non-sales staff an insight into its sales function.

As part of the first phase of this activity, some 800 non-sales employees drawn from its offices across the country were sent out in groups to different markets along with their sales colleagues.
They were set two tasks for the day – first, follow a seven-step procedure to create a perfect store and second, identify a new store based on three visible markers.

“The next phase will be to compile all the data in terms of stores visited, perfect stores created and new stores opened in the ensuing days. Employee groups will also share insights and observations with the sales staff in addition to a 45-second video capturing specific learnings derived from this exercise,” said a company official.

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