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Using mobiles to book sales, track distributors

Ranju Sarkar  |  New Delhi 

Last year, doubled its market share in India. It is now the second-largest home and personal care brand, tailing Hindustan Unilever’s 'Wheel'. As the second-generation of the Gyanchandani family tries to take Rohit Surfactants—the Kanpur-based detergent maker whose flagship brand is Ghari—to the next level, it is embracing to compete effectively with multinationals like HUL and Proctor & Gamble (P&G).

Six months ago, the company started using mobile phones to book sales and track distributor's positions and sales. It adopted a mobile application, msales, which allows it to manage sales orders on mobiles. “It allows its sales force to take care of the sales activity on the go and directly enter the order on a mobile. This is pushed into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system,” says Siddharth Agarwal, chief executive, Mobicule, the Mumbai-based firm which developed the solution.

Earlier, a salesman would take an order and call up his back office. Someone would then enter it into the ERP system. While taking orders, the salesman notes the distributor’s stock position, sending it back, allowing the company to track secondary sales and plan production. “We have implemented the system in our organisation. The solution facilitates real-time information exchange between the corporate centre and the on-field staff. It also helps in sales order management,” says Rahul Gyanchandani, director, Rohit Surfactants.

Since the application is GPS-enabled, it allows the company to track the sales beat of people on the ground. Since many of the company's distributors are located in far-flung, remote areas, this helps the company take stock of things. Earlier, there was no way for a company to know if a person had started out on his beat or not. Hence, many firms needed their salesman to call up the office from the distributor's phone.

As the salesmen are required to cover a large area, they would often skip some distributors and take orders from them on the phone. However, companies want their salesmen to visit distributors and cross-sell as many products as possible. With this application, it is not possible for a salesman to skip any beat. The sales beat is recorded, and the GPS coordinates of a person are recorded in a central server and mapped on a geographical mapping tool.

The application can be loaded on a Nokia Nc5 handset with a GPRS connection. It also helps the salesperson to track the sales order, if it has been approved or is pending approval. Companies typically do credit checks on the distributor before giving him fresh stocks.

Consider a distributor with a credit limit of Rs 3 lakh. He issues a fresh order to a salesman for stocks worth Rs 1 lakh or more. The distributor may have issued a cheque to clear his dues, but the clearance may be pending. Till the cheque is cleared, his order would be pending. With this application, if the salesman runs a query, he can get information on his mobile instantly if he runs a query.

Ghari has been using the application for the last six months, and this has improved its sales. Its tracking, too, has vastly improved. Often, a salesman would not go directly to distributors. “This was a major pain for Ghari, and an area in which it faced major concerns. It now has sales on real-time and can track secondary sales by tracking distributor stocks,” says Agarwal.

First Published: Wed, September 21 2011. 00:09 IST