Free Up Your Sales Team

The role of technology in elevating customer relationships.

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Forbes points out: “Sales software and sales leaders seem to be in a love-hate relationship. It’s a story in which software loves sales leaders, but sales leaders hate their software.” 

Technology can make the difference in an industry where sales managers and reps look for an edge to stand out in a tough competitive landscape. 

Pacific Coast Supply (PCS), a subsidiary of Pacific Coast Building Products, suffered from a common problem: They needed a software upgrade. While functional, the complexities of their legacy system made it hard for this 12-state, 50-location organization to get new reps up to speed quickly. 

As they expanded their 70-year-old business, they struggled to launch in new markets because customer-facing employee training took too much time. It took as long as six months to train a new employee. Employee turnover can be high in this industry: How could they dedicate time to training and get their branch employees up to speed faster?

One thing standing in their way was their legacy order management system. 

Order management refers to everything from receiving and tracking incoming orders to managing the processes required to fulfill them, to delivery and customer service follow up. For the distributor, this includes inventory visibility, order placement, picking, packing, shipping and returns.

Distributors generally face many challenges in their order management systems: Outdated technologies lack integration and scalability, creating manual workflows and redundant tasks that serve as an anchor for distribution companies seeking growth. It’s not enough to just work with the system you have. The problem is: The way a company manages orders has an impact on customer service and ultimately customer retention.

So, if distributors can’t onboard their new hires into an order management system fast enough, that will trickle down negatively into the customer experience.

An additional challenge for PCS was that their competition was able to open new stores much faster.

The management team considered building new order management software from scratch, but the cost and time it would take were daunting. Their CIO Marty Menard told us: “People traditionally built their software because nothing existed. Today, buying over building is a better approach.”

On average, learning the legacy system took four to six months. When PCS upgraded their order management solution, they shrunk onboarding time to just four days. By automating the manual process slowing them down, they reduced errors and inventory by 30% while improving gross margins by 1%. 

Menard shared key lessons:

  • The speed of a software deployment has a direct impact on the bottom line.
  • The software upgrade must be tied to significant ROI that is communicated clearly; otherwise, the organizational will to change suffers.
  • Select software that has an easy-to-use interface to increase the rate of adoption.

With the right solution, training time drops, and ROI comes faster, as team members quickly focus on what matters—their customers—instead of struggling with the new technology.

That’s really the point of this story. Sales and customer services teams see their technology tools as a distraction from what they really want to do: Sell and help their customers. 

If a company can modernize their technology and streamline their sales and order processes – they will not be tied down to complex systems and processes and they can free up their sales teams to spend more time with the customer – i.e. the sales team becomes a true extension of their customer’s organization and a valued partner to the business.

Tim Yates is the CEO of DataXstream.

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