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Digital Transformation of your Sales Department: What’s in it for you?

Submitted by Melanie Horn, SigniFlow Customer Success Director UK/EU/MENA

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The benefits you stand to reap from digitally transforming your sales department by far outweigh any concerns you may have.

There are many pieces that make up the puzzle that is a company, but let’s face it – sales teams are the money makers. They’re the customer communicators, the product delivery drivers, the profit promoters.

But…

They’re also often the most hamstrung by admin, red tape and – worst of all in today’s digital-first world – manual processes.

Stop! In the name of success. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to go digital.

Digital transformation: What’s the big deal?

It’s a unanimous point of view: Digital transformation is no longer an option – it is a necessity. Some industry professionals have even gone so far as to put forward that companies that fail to digitally transform will become obsolete and die. Ouch. 😖

In contrast, companies that do take up the challenge and transform their operations, are guaranteed to reap the many short- and long-term benefits of digital transformation. Some of the deeply significant upsides include:

  • Digital transformation helps companies keep up with ever-evolving customer demands, so they can stay relevant in all future contexts.
  • Digital transformation enables companies to effectively compete in a dynamic environment that hinges on the evolution of technology.
  • Digital transformation changes the way companies operate: Systems, processes, workflow, company culture, and customer interaction are all improved in the process.
  • Digital transformation empowers companies with operative, real, and organised data so that they can use it to their advantage – and to the advantage of their customers.

Why the long phase?

So, given the undeniably valuable benefits to be had from businesses taking the plunge and committing to transformation, why do so many struggle to get their projects off the ground, and why are so many stuck in phase one: getting a foothold?

Presumably, many find it daunting and fear that it will be difficult to transition. Plus, change management is often an obstacle for businesses.

Often, when we ask companies why it is that their workforce’s systems are still manual, we get the answer that manual is just less complicated, and more familiar. Our answer (or counter-question) to that, is: How much time are you already spending online – both professionally and in your personal capacity? Why then is it difficult to conceive of moving your work systems online?

Then again, another hurdle is that it is not just the workforce that needs to be considered. Another big obstacle organisations face, is convincing decision-makers that a transition is not only needed, but also highly beneficial to the company at large.

Million-dollar questions

Almost without fail, when we talk to customers about digital transformation, the million-dollar question arises: “Where do we start?” And then, of course, with that comes questions around where, when and how it will end.

With no clear vision in mind (because it’s new to most), many companies are left with no idea of where or how to kick off their journey. Another question decision makers ask before they give the green light to start the journey, is: “How will I recoup the expenditure that goes with such a journey?”

Fair enough – any profit-driven business wants to know its ROI chances before making a major transition.

To answer this specific million-dollar question, it helps to look at the people and processes that bring in the money. The elements that are crucial to generating income. And these, by and large, are tied up in the sales department.

The long and winding road: Manual sales processes

But before we go fixing it, let’s check that it’s “broke” in the first place.

What are the obstacles that your salespeople face? More specifically, how long does it take them to go from A to Z of their sales process using manual methods?

Here’s a typical manual process in a company. Let’s use Steve. Steve’s a good salesperson’s name, right? 🤔  And let’s say Steve’s company sells branded hoodies. Because everybody loves a branded hoodie. We’ll call the business “Hoodie House”.

  1. After carefully putting together a quotation, Steve emails it to the customer in question, in the hope that the customer will sign it and send it back. (Sidenote: In most cases, by “sign”, what’s meant is more like “print, sign, scan, email, throw paper in bin, where it will later end up in a C0²-producing landfill”.) But Steve has no guarantees and, after he hits ‘Send’, he never really knows where in the process the document resides.
  2. To Steve’s delight, the customer accepts the quotation. So now Steve sends him the Customer Information Sheet, which the customer again needs to print, complete, sign, scan, and send back to Steve. (Another sidenote: We all know where the ink-filled paper ends up after that, *Cough C0²ugh*.)
  3. When Steve receives the form, he emails it through to the accounts department to create an account. The accounts department then prints the form and files the document in a customer register folder, after which the application is processed via manual capturing.
  4. Once the account is open, Steve can start processing the order. A manual file is created. The signed quotation is printed, the accounts document completed with all the company information, and then the file is sent to the store or warehouse to pick the order.
  5. A picking slip is then generated and signed by the warehouse manager, who confirms in ink that the stock was picked.
  6. The file is then sent to the accounts department, which will capture the order under the customer’s account.
  7. An invoice and delivery note is generated.
  8. When the goodies (or hoodies 😉) are delivered, the delivery guy produces another piece of paper, which the person receiving the order will sign to confirm receipt.
  9. If (and only if) all goes well and it was a green-line process with no deviation or incomplete goods, etc., the delivery note is received back at Hoodie House and handed to Steve – who then files it in the customer folder.
  10. The file will go to the accounts department to invoice, and a copy of the invoice will be printed for the file. (More paper. Just what the atmosphere needs.)
  11. The file is then placed in the customer folder, in a filing cabinet (which is a manual system all on its own).

Phew. It’s tiring just reading that, right? And that’s before you consider that a process like this takes days – even weeks – to before being complete.

Let’s add digital and see how it goes on the flip side…

The fast and the fruitful: Automated, digitised sales processes

Let’s look at how a document workflow, management and signing tool, implemented as part of Hoodie House’s digital transformation initiative, changes things for Steve.

Because we have loads of successful use cases around SigniFlow’s Portfolios feature, we’ll be using this to tell this reverse tale.

  1. Steve hooks his prospective customer and generates a quotation via Hoodie House’s CRM.
  2. The CRM talks to SigniFlow, and Steve starts a new Customer Portfolio with the quotation. This way, all processes can be tracked and all documents automatically grouped, securely in the cloud. (No more wondering where the process stands.)
  3. The customer receives the quotation and accepts with a click.
  4. At the same time, an account is created automatically from CRM to ERP and an order is raised immediately by the system.
  5. Steve then generates the Customer Information Form in his SigniFlow Forms portal and sends it to the customer. This form becomes the second digital item in the portfolio, neatly stored and trackable in the cloud.
  6. The customer quickly completes the form and instantly signs online (goodbye printing, scanning, emailing, paper wasting, C0² generating).
  7. The information in the completed form is automatically linked from SigniFlow to Hoodie House’s CRM.
  8. A picking slip is automatically raised for the warehouse and a notification to Hoodie House’s warehouse manager. The picking slip will be available on the tablet (part of the customer portfolio on SigniFlow), and after picking, the available stock will be sent back to the ERP system, and a delivery note can be generated.
  9. The SigniFlow portal – also available to the driver – can be updated with all daily deliveries, and this stays part of the customer portfolio. For example, the stock is delivered, and the person receiving the stock can sign digitally with a 2D selfie or 3D Liveliness test or with one-time pin (OTP, otherwise known as two-factor authentication or 2FA), and the driver will witness that they received the stock.
  10. After the delivery note is completed, the ERP is automatically updated and invoice generation can be done and sent to the customer for signing with a placeholder for the uploading of Proof of Payment in the customer portfolio.

Easier, better, faster, stronger

Reading that, everything just feels slicker, smoother, more seamless, doesn’t it? Not to mention more organised and safer. Oh – and let’s not forget the time factor. This could all be done (barring physical delivery of the items in between admin, approval and document processes) in a matter of hours – minutes, even, if everyone is at the ready.

And the fact that there is minimal human interaction here, means accuracy is greatly increased. All processes are done correctly, and no process item was skipped or manipulated. Because every single action is tracked (via SigniFlow’s real-time audit log), everyone’s proverbials are covered – and audits are a breeze.

So, before you let your fears and the hard questions around digital transfromation get between your business and your ULTIMATE business, consider all that’s in it for you.

Still not convinced? I’d be happy to give you a demo😉. Get in touch: melanieh@signiflow.com

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