Looking back at some older published pieces, this seemed particularly relevent even now. Interview with Shop Eat Surf and newly hired Kate Shoemaker from 2014 (talking about B2B e-commerce and the need for salesforce automation).
What made the RepSpark job such a good fit for your skills?
I have been in technology since 2002, and it has proven to be a very exciting industry, constantly changing and advancing unlike so many other industries in today’s market. But I was bored, and I wanted more. I wanted my DREAM job. At RepSpark, I found that opportunity: to work with people who feel like family, to be able to sell the BEST product on the market, to board a rocket ship taking off and to have a passionate CEO and mentor who just happens to be a legend and who is also the most decent person I know.
…Oh but back to your question about my skills being a good fit. I guess because I just love selling: I love connecting with people who have real pains; I love helping them see something so game-changing that it just might be the answer to some of their unsolvable problems; I love watching them deliver on some of their major initiatives; and I love becoming one of their trusted advisors and friends. Because in business, you only stay friends with those who deliver on what they promise.
What do you see as trends in the sales management software and B2B software arena?
I think to understand today’s trends we have to take a quick look at the IT investments this industry has made over the last 30 years.
First, came Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) which a company uses to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities. At first, it was just accounting, maintenance, and human resources but by the mid 90s ERPs were addressing all core enterprise functions.
Then, came Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), which a company uses to manage the entire lifecycle of a product: from inception through engineering design and manufacture to the service and disposal of manufactured products. PLMs have helped organizations cope with the increasing complexity and engineering challenges of developing new products for the global competitive markets.
I don’t think anyone utilizing these systems could imagine working without them today. They are imperative to their success.
And now that brings us to Sales Force Management (SFM) which a company uses in conjunction with their CRM system to help automate many of the sales and sales force management functions, in particular forecasting, order management and product knowledge. We see that the more developed SFM systems have features where customers can customize offerings to meet their needs through online product building systems- a feature that is becoming more and more popular with the adoption of mobile technologies.
The biggest trend that we see in SFM today is the move from thinking SFM is just order entry to the understanding that a successful platform needs to integrate with their current systems for Total Order Life Cycle Management. Brian Bosson at Rip Curl fully understood this differentiation when choosing their SFM system. “Because of the way RepSpark was created, it was clear that the tool was built to suit a business front end and back end which was unique based on the other companies we looked at. The other companies really focused on a great front end tool which is important yet they hadn't asked the right questions when it came to getting information out of the system to help run the business daily. RepSpark had.”
What should action sports brands in particular look for in a sales force management solution?
They should look for a system that features one integrated solution to provide
The system should be highly intuitive, easy to use and accessible from any computer or via mobile tools such as the iPhone or iPad. An iPad App needs to include a powerful digital order pad with Virtual Catalog, Line Presentation Tools, Order Management Tools, and Branding/Marketing Presentation Tools that can operate on or off line. And last, the system should be multi-lingual, multi-currency, and should be able to connect to virtually any ERP or PLM system through a versatile API to provide real-time information in a stable, secure and streamlined fashion without the need for a person to manage.
The cost of the “do nothing strategy” or picking/staying with the wrong vendor is just too great. With a solid API and multiple ERP interface integrations, implementing a solution or moving to a more robust solution is not as painful or as costly as one might think. As David Jonah at Vida Group International highlighted, “The RepSpark solution will help Jambu meet its goal of more effectively managing our sales order life cycle with one integrated system.” The focus should be on the benefits of a truly streamlined solution that will provide a solid ROI.
And of course there is always the popular vote. Brian Shea Director, Finance & Business Intelligence at Stance said it best- “We are looking forward to an amazing sales experience for our sales team and retailers. We polled our outside reps, who've worked with nearly every sales ordering software program on the market, and RepSpark was the most popular choice. We listened to their suggestions and we are happy with our decision.
Because SFM is about taking the overall performance of a company to the next level by having all reps perform like stars while improving the efficiency and reducing the cost of the sales cycle.