Sample Management in the Chemical Industry: Challenges and Issues (Part 1)
Product samples are an important factor of success for companies in the chemical industry. Before chemical producers can sell new or improved products, they typically provide evaluation samples to their customers. This allows the customer to test the product in their particular systems and under their specific conditions before placing a purchase order. However, in most companies the sample management process is done manually on spreadsheets; a labor intensive process typically not integrated into a CRM system, which can result in a number of problems.
For example, there is no direct link between the sales opportunity and the sample. Even though a sales opportunity might be existing in a CRM system the account executive might be using, he still has to call or send an email to trigger the sample shipment. It also means that there are no automated notifications for the account executive and the customer regarding the location and status of the sample. Error prone, not very effective and not ideal from a customer satisfaction point of view, and in the worst case of a missing sample this could potentially threaten the success of the sales opportunity.
The solution is a chemical sample management solution that provides a supporting IT infrastructure. It should be fully integrated into the sales enablement solution the account executive is using on his laptop or mobile device. The sample management solution should allow to create a sample order by simply selecting the customer and the product in just a few clicks – so simple and quick it can be done during the customer call. Sample Management would not only provides a transparent and very effective sales support, but on the bottom line it can offer tremendous operational cost savings.
Qnovate is an SAP Co-Innovation (COIL) partner, specializing in building and delivering pre-packaged industry solutions for rapid deployment. These industry solutions are comprised of functional add-ons to existing SAP solutions, each of the add-ones can be used by itself or in combination. Chemical sample management is an add-on for SAP Cloud for Sales and has been developed by Qnovate as a COIL project in close cooperation with the chemical industry.
Besides providing an effective business process, cost savings can be impressive (real world scenario with some assumptions):
A company ships approximately 10,000 samples annually, managed by five employees. This translates to roughly $750,000 labor cost per year. Qnovate’s co-development industry partners estimated a 75% more effective process, this would result in $560,000 total operational savings year over year.
And this is just the beginning; many specialty chemical manufacturers manage a staggering 100,000 samples annually. Of course, every company is different and some companies might not realize a 75% savings. Still, ROI for most scenarios should be extremely short.
Please also read parts 1 and 3 of this blog series on chemical sample management:
- Part 1: Challenges and Issues
- Part 2: Improve your Bottom Line
- Part 3: ‘Day in a Life’ of a Chemical Sales Representative – Solution in Detail