In parts 1 and 2 of this blog we discussed challenges and inefficiencies associated with sample management in the chemical industry, as well as benefits which can be derived from an integrated, easy to use and transparent solution. Such a solution would ideally be connected to your back end system to get access to data such as customers and products, sales opportunities and order management, sample status notification etc., but also fully integrated into a mobile sales tool the account executives are using when visiting their customers. How would such a solution be used in day-to-day activities?
To answer this question let us walk through a day in the life of an account executive using a chemical industry-specific SAP Cloud for Sales solution (i.e. with added functionality for sample management and mobile document management):
The AE is preparing for a customer visit (tip: check this link if you would like to see a brief SAP Cloud for Sales video). He checks the sales dashboard which shows him YTD sales targets vs. actual sales. The analysis shows that he is a bit short on reaching his sales target, which is why he scheduled today’s customer visit to introduce a new product. He gets in his car and drives to the customer.
The meeting goes well, and the customer asks for more detailed information on the new product. The AE pulls out his iPad and searches for the product, and get access to all documents related to that product, such as a technical brochure, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), a CoA (Certificate of Analysis), and the latest price list – which is actively ‘pushed’ to all AE’s whenever a new version is created.
The customer is interested and requests an evaluation sample for testing. The AE creates a sample opportunity for the requested sample product. Then he searches and selects the corresponding sample product using enhanced search features. From the sample opportunity, he creates the actual sample order. All this is done in a few seconds and with just a few clicks on the mobile device. Both the customer as well as the AE get update notifications once the sample is shipped or received, as well as carrier and tracking number information. The AE creates a call report and sets up a reminder to call his in two weeks to inquire about evaluation feedback.
Not only does a simple and intuitive sample management solution make life easier for the account executive and customer, but on the bottom line it creates efficiency and cuts operational costs.
Sample management is an area where many chemical companies lack an end-to-end solution. Managing tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of samples manually is inefficient, error prone and costly. Most importantly, speeding up the process and closing deals faster can have a significant impact on your bottom-line.
I hope you found this discussion interesting. What are the challenges associated with sample management in your company? Does the organization pay enough attention to this critical process? Please share your comments below.
Please also read parts 1 and 2 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