Sofon software enables smart sales management. And that can offer you numerous advantages.
Sofon improves your sales management processes by making the following processes smarter:
You have a Sales and Marketing department that operates with various sales employees and partners. Your sales people are based in various locations. Keeping an overview of the volume and quality of your leads and the actions that are taken or not taken is a challenge. In fact, you are aware that you lack an overview of your sales opportunities.
Without a real-time picture of your leads, you cannot mark out the right course for increasing sales opportunities and for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales process. How do you know whether the prospects behind the leads have potential? Or whether your staff reacts in time or whether they neglect those chances? Are your sales people doing the right things and not wasting unnecessary energy on prospects without a real future? It’s a shame that you don’t start with clear, effective sales – this would make a definite difference to the outcome of your sales funnel.
Sofon puts you in control of your lead management. Your sales people can register the leads with the corresponding company details, the actions they have undertaken, and the results of those actions, providing you with a real-time overview of sales opportunities for your company at a very early stage, any time you want. You can see whether there are enough leads and, with the information that has been collected on the leads, you can create a picture of the potential of the businesses that have shown some interest. In Sofon, you can use questionnaires to evaluate and qualify your leads, which will enable you to assess where your best chances lie and whether your sales people respond at the right time with the right action. You will also be able to see which leads are converted into opportunities. You will have a constant view of the reality and can respond accordingly, putting you in control of the efficiency and effectiveness at the beginning of your sales process and allowing you to influence the influx of leads and how they are up-scaled to opportunities.
Your sales organization is complex, with in-house sales staff and external resellers based in various locations in several regions. This makes it a considerable challenge to acquire an overall picture of the opportunities in the sales funnel. For all these reasons, effective steering along the right course to improve your sales opportunity often happens (too) late in the process. You have frequently noticed that opportunities that seemed set to succeed have been lost. And sometimes far too much effort is spent on a certain opportunity to little effect, while the progress of others is allowed to lag. The energy spent on opportunities is not efficient or effective enough, you don’t have sufficient control to steer the sales efforts towards maximum performance and you can’t make opportunity analyses on a structural basis. Consequently, your view of potential future turnover is extremely vague.
Sofon offers you all the insight and tools you need for well-considered opportunity management. Your sales staff can register all the developments connected to opportunities. It is extremely easy for them to check whether they put enough effort into the right activities.
The sales managers can follow the activities connected to opportunities carried out by all the sales people. They can view the nature, frequency, order, and intensity of the activities. Sofon enables them to qualify opportunities systematically and clearly and to respond accordingly. That is because, as time passes, they will be able to assign success rates and expected order values to opportunities. Does an opportunity present a real chance of an order with respect to its status as a prospect, the actions to be carried out, the experiential details, your rivals, and so on? Because, with the aid of Sofon, your sales managers can also apply clear experiential knowledge gained by your company, they will know which risks obstruct that success and where matters might arise that they should take into account. If they analyze and qualify the chances of opportunities systematically using the same method, they will be able to see where the chances decline and where they increase.
You do not have a constant overall view of what’s going on in the sales funnel, only how much money is outstanding in quotes. Sales Management is not managing to guide the department proactively according to the sales opportunities, because the sales staff aren’t supplying the information on time and the information is also often lacking in detail. It’s difficult to iron out those wrinkles. Management mainly consists of correcting faults and that has cost you a good many sales opportunities. Why is this happening? What are we doing wrong? What do we need to change? At the same time, you are getting signals that producing quotes quickly is something of a bottleneck in your company and, as a result, you have already lost a few promising prospects. The question looms large as to whether you will be invited to submit a quote next time. And that’s a serious problem. The quality of your forecasts is another worry. Actually, you have too much money tied up in stocks -– even even though sometimes you can’t meet your delivery times because essential components weren’t ordered on time. And as for capacity, it’s a never-ending struggle to keep the costs in line with your revenue. In fact, you never completely manage to stick to your capacity schedule, which means that you can’t get the staff in time, which in turn means that you will be confronted with grumbling employees because you will need to reorganize. How can you make this process more organic?
Sofon presents you with detailed quote information. This means that you will have high-quality information you can use for sales funnel management and making realistic forecasts and well-considered plans for your buying and production capacity.
Your sales staff will have the best possible support for their daily tasks. They only need to register their actions and activities as part of their daily work. They do not need to enter any additional information that is relevant only to the management. As a result, no precious sales time is wasted.
Sofon generates all reports required for making choices about which course to take, automatically, as a by-product. You can make sales funnel analyses for the entire pipeline, taking into account every possible sub-aspect and from every angle. Sales Management will have a real-time overview of leads, opportunities, budget proposals, quotes, contract meetings, and so on. And that applies not only to figures, but to what is done, how quickly the response is, and what the value of the order is. As a result, Sales Management will know where to find the best signals for sales, where the chances are at risk of being lost, where sales energy is being wasted, and so on.
With this knowledge to support you, you can make proactive and effective decisions about the right course of action.
Sofon also automatically calculates success rates at every stage of the sales funnel, using all the information available, including experiential data. Those success rates, combined with the detailed information from the quotes concerning product options, materials, services to be provided, and so on make it possible to make buying forecasts. They are also a good indication of what’s required for your product capacity schedule.
Coordination in your Sales department is a recurrent problem. Your Sales Management can’t get a good grip on it. You have already looked into several cases in which promising leads and opportunities were lost. In some cases, sales staff neglected to follow up on them. But it has also happened that several sales people were working on the same opportunities. Potential customers were even contacted and offered different things – your sales staff were competing with each other with discounts and that only emerged later. It did not really do anything for your company’s professional, reliable reputation. Most prospects decided to try their luck elsewhere. In one or two cases, it did eventually lead to a deal. But then Sales still missed the chance of capitalizing on the most lucrative offers. In two situations, that lack of coordination actually meant you lost a considerable degree of your margin. The sales staff turned out to have been negotiating with potential customers without any knowledge of your culture-related pricing policy. Well, you gave them hell for that! But the real problem is that could happen again at any time.
Sofon is designed to be the perfect support for companies whose operations involve complicated, international sales situations – situations in which sales are conducted from various locations, both by your own Sales department and through partners and resellers. In Sofon, it’s easy to register all your sales channels in an orderly fashion and assign leads and opportunities to sales staff within those channels. This means that your entire sales organization can operate efficiently and will be properly coordinated, no matter how complex the situation.
Another important aspect of good registration is that you won’t run into trouble with respect to your pricing policies. If you do business in other countries, you will probably follow different pricing policies according to the different costs and cultural aspects. Things can go haywire if the “wrong” sales staff work on those leads or opportunities. After all, it might be quite natural to negotiate about the price offered in one country, while in another country, that price might be regarded as the final offer. Any mistakes here could cost you a lot of money.
And customers who have a better understanding of your pricing policy due to rivalries among your sales staff will use this to their advantage to make better deals, costing you your margin. Sofon’s smart territory management can help you prevent all of that.
You run a multinational that sells a large range of products on various markets and in various countries. Your central marketing department is always in communication with your sales people to maintain the right balance between policy choices and supply and demand. They regularly produce new product catalogues for the various markets. At the same time, the manufacturers you use continually renew their products. The exchange between Sales and Marketing on the one hand and the manufacturer’s product development on the other is not a coordinated process: one side will not wait for the other. Differences in times zones only add to the problem. All that obscure activity management makes it a challenge to run a smooth product management process. It involves a great deal of manpower, which is revealed as a considerable cost item every year. Moreover, things regularly go wrong in the coordination between central marketing, your sales people, and the manufacturers. A certain market no longer wants a certain product option, and while that information is passed on, the option appears again when the product is updated. Somewhere along the line the arrangement has been lost. These breakdowns in communications mean that you sometimes deliver products with incorrect, missing, or prohibited options. The costs of remedying the faults can be considerable and, in the worst case, your customers will be very unhappy and take their business elsewhere.
Sofon is the perfect solution for situations in which communications are complicated. You can remove all coordination issues by making knowledge models containing all the product options in their relation to what is possible and what is permissible in the various markets (versions management). With that to help you, you will always have access to an accurate and consistently up-to-date source of information that all parties can use. The manufacturers can log in any time of the day and update their products themselves. And if you want to make it clear to a manufacturer that you are deliberately leaving out an option for a particular market, you can block that option in Sofon for the market in question. In that case, the manufacturer will automatically receive the right information and will not be able to produce the unwanted product option. All the information is consistent for all the parties: central marketing, all your sales people, and the manufacturers. Time differences will no longer matter and you will have introduced smart processes to your activity management.
Your company does business with countless customers. While customer information is part of your system, it’s an ongoing “struggle” to keep all the details up to date. It becomes even more difficult when Sales staff with long-term contracts leave and other staff take over the accounts. When that happens, you are dependent on the quality of the information recorded in the system, which can vary widely. Often, your new Sales staff take a long time to find out who to contact for any reason. It’s a real waste of selling time. They also have to sort out which follow-up action should be taken for potential customers, because they don’t know what the previous response was to the action that had already been taken. You’ve also noticed that your company’s campaigns are often not the success you hoped for. That’s probably because the information used to contact the businesses was not sent to the right department. In fact, the structure of your relationships with current and prospective customers leaves much to be desired.
Sofon is designed to enable your Sales staff to register customer details in a very easily accessible way as part of their daily tasks. Lists of questions and answers ensure that sales staff collect all the relevant information: contacts with their specific authority and responsibilities, the frequency and content of the contacts with them, when what information was sent, what the contact’s response was to actions and proposals, what important comments they made during meetings, in e-mails, phone calls, and so on. As a result, your sales staff gather, in the course of their work, practical and high-quality customer information that will contribute to your sales success. That information is accessible at a central point so all your sales staff, whether they are experienced employees or new to the job, always get in touch with the right contacts and are backed by the adequate information when they speak to customers. And the better your staff are at aligning the communication with both the need for information and the contact’s authority, the more efficient they can work and the greater the chances of success.
This high-quality information will remain valuable, even if the contacts change company. In such cases, you will know how well that contact knows your company and what they think of your products, and that knowledge could be relevant for your company’s territory management. And if another member of the Sales staff contacts that particular contact, he or she will already be well-prepared. The contact in question will have the feeling that you are truly interested in him and the company. Factors such as this can influence the outcome of a decision in your favor.
You would like to expand to across the border and explore new markets. But doing business in other countries is an expensive path to tread, full of practical and legal obstructions. You must be able bridge the gaps between commercial cultures, languages, time zones, and currencies. Often, working with resellers is a good solution. They know all about the local markets and have valuable networks. The problem is, however, that they don’t know your products. This is a major impediment, because it means you will need a solid office sales department to support those resellers. And you still have to deal with the differences in time zones and languages too. The communication among the various parties tends to get stuck on the differences between normal office hours and the available staff who can speak the required languages. As a result, it can be quite tricky for your resellers to produce quotes quickly and that, in turn, can reduce your appeal as a vendor. And the longer a quoting procedure takes, the greater the chance of errors – because the price of materials might change in the meantime. Moreover, differences in language and currency can produce a lack of clarity and misunderstandings: Were you dealing in gallons or liters? Was the price quoted in dollars or euros?
Lots of e-mails with lots of chances for things to go wrong. The product contains options that turn out to be prohibited in that country and you only discover the errors in the quote after everything has already been put into production. Or perhaps your product does not meet the customer’s expectations because your reseller’s communications were not quite clear enough, so your customer refuses to accept the product, which causes a great deal of confusion with resellers and customers who are far away. The result is that you end up paying for all the costs.
Sofon is indespensible if you want to do business on an international level. Sofon is a limitless, international solution that makes all the information on your products rapidly available to resellers, who can then produce error-free quotes 24/7 in their own language and currency without expensive, time-consuming commercial support from you.
You create knowledge models of your products in the languages you need and with all of the cultural elements that could have an effect, such as: (legal) regulations that apply in a certain region or country and prices that are in keeping with the local negotiation culture. As a result, you will have an accurate source of information 24/7 for each region or country that your resellers can consult.
Your resellers can login to the Sofon server whenever it is convenient for them. With the aid of a questionnaire in their own language, they can put together an error-free quote. The quote is automatically composed in the language and currency used in the region or country in question. The resellers cannot select any options that are prohibited in their markets. The quote is always correct. The resellers can produce as many versions of the quotes as they want, whenever they want.
The essence of the solution is that your resellers can work independently. In reality, what you do with the help of the Sofon solution is send your resellers quotes informing them what products can be bought from you for what price. After that, the arrangements that the resellers make with their customers – the promises they make and the discounts they offer – are entirely up to them.
The resellers are also responsible for their quotes and, in turn, for any errors they might make. For instance, if a reseller forgets an option and the customer then neglects to read the order confirmation carefully, they cannot hold you to account for the delivery of a product that is missing a part or for the wrong product.
Your company’s campaigns are not as successful as you had hoped. The response is limited while the costs are relatively high. Every time a campaign is in the pipeline, a great deal of time is spent collecting the most recent details and you end up with too many people working on it. Much of the campaign material is sent to the businesses’ general addresses, because you don’t have any information about their contacts. In fact, invitations to customer events don’t usually end up where Sales wants them. You regularly hear from your clients’ contacts that they would have loved to attend but did not see the invitation. You are missing opportunities to build relationships with current and new customers.
Sofon makes it very easy for you to select sub-target groups from your customer database by clicking a number of features. It won’t involve any more effort or time-consuming actions. It means that you can send newsletters, invitations, mailing specials, and more to specific people and target the right people with your campaigns. If you work with Sofon, all these options will automatically open up to you.
You don’t always identify developments in the market or in your sales organization properly or in time. You have the feeling that you can’t keep up with everything that is happening and that running your business seems more like correcting everything that goes wrong. You are frequently confronted by developments you had not foreseen. A loyal customer suddenly stops buying your products. Examining the matter in hindsight, you discovered that the number of requests they sent had been falling over the past year. Nobody seemed to have responded to that – and nobody alerted you about it. Products that were recently stocked appear hardly to have been sold: nobody wants them anymore. You were forced to fire two members of your sales staff at once because their performance had been poor for some time. You hear that a few potential customers have taken their business to your rival because they had to wait so long for quotes. You needed to call in a company to make sales analyses but Sales started to complain about it. All sorts of Excel sheets have to be filled in but nobody wanted to do it because they didn’t have the time. Meanwhile, the costs of that agency continue to mount. But you’d still rather pay up so you have more control! Mind you, it continues to be a worry, even with the help of the agency!
Working with Sofon, it’s incredibly easy to write reports based on any viewpoint you wish, furnishing your sales organization with all the directive information they need without any extra effort on the part of sales staff or sales managers for registration work. The system automatically generates that information from the available details.
If a sales manager needs a schedule, they can select the numbers of customers, quotes sent, and outstanding quote values. If they want to know whether the sales staff are working on the right things, they can simply click a button and view all activities connected to leads and sales opportunities. Or they can generate a report for each member of the sales staff: how many sales opportunities have they managed to capitalize on? How much turnover do they generate? Or about a partner: how many quotes does that partner produce and what kinds of quotes are they? Or about a particular opportunity: what action has already been taken in this case?
Reports can also be prepared on each customer individually: how many quotes have we sent them? What's the volume of turnover we generate from them? In addition, you can focus specifically on contacts: what activities have we undertaken with respect to this contact in the past two years? Accessible, market-related reports are not a problem either: how is our latest product selling compared to the others? Or: what are customers demanding? What patterns are developing in our quotes?
You can also see how much time your staff spend on quotes and weigh this against the order values, enabling you to work out how much the quotes cost and where, if necessary, you need to make a change.
Sofon also enables the sales staff to conduct self-analyses, i.e. they can generate every possible kind of report about themselves. They can then can see whether they have finished all their scheduled duties on time and whether they have achieved their turnover targets. They can also ensure that they don’t mistakenly neglect an opportunity or customer.
Your company’s operations are running quite smoothly, you are happy with the number of orders you get, but you can’t manage any growth. Turnover and sales seem to always stall at approximately the same volume. You have made several attempts to figure out how to improve sales. For example, why don’t some quotes produce orders? But those types of questions have met with a great deal of resistance from your sales staff. They complain, point out how busy they were, and say that they would rather be working on the next quote for the next customer. And of course, think of the paperwork involved if you really want to get to the bottom of the matter. In this respect, your ERP system is no help at all and
improvement programs don’t make that much difference either. You have introduced a few over the course of time, but they’ve all been very time-consuming for your organization. Things are better for a while after each program, but nothing has really been a launching pad for more growth. All things considered, your company focuses on completing the orders you receive, solving bottlenecks in the production, and keeping your customers happy. Demand is evolving rapidly, so there is a lot of pressure to simply get the job done every day and any interest in growth fades into the background.
Working with Sofon will allow you to utilize information – not only from orders you have won, but from lost orders as well. It won’t involve any extra registration work. Analyzing lost orders is just as valuable, if not more so, than analyzing the orders you won. After all, if you know why customers don’t choose you, you can make changes. Precisely because quotes are not turning into orders means there is room for improvement and room for growth.
Sofon keeps the details from all versions of the quotes you have sent to all your customers. If you examine the versions of the lost orders closely and look for a common denominator, you can identify what went wrong. You can focus on any aspect you can think of. Perhaps you will discover that certain products are only ever ordered once. That could mean that there is something wrong with your aftersales. Perhaps your staff lack certain knowledge or a service-oriented attitude? Or does the same option keep appearing on lost orders? Should you continue to offer that option? Are there certain products that just don’t sell well? In that case, it might be sensible to see which options are missing from those articles. Or have you noticed that you lose the customer after sending the budget proposals when they see the quote for the actual price? That could mean you are too expensive and you should take a long, hard look at your price management. Of course, you can compare information from lost orders to categories of customers. Are you losing many orders from interesting customers or from many one-off customers with whom it’s not as important to build a customer relationship? You will need to respond to these different cases at different speeds. All this lost-order information is extremely valuable for implementing specific improvements. And you can grow if you can improve.
The quality of your sales forecasts is not as good as it should be. You have often noticed quite that the predicted turnover and sales did not match the reality. Stock management is highly chaotic: items are often out of stock, causing you to fail to meet your delivery times. Customers are complaining and it’s been touch-and-go with a few loyal customers. At the same time, some articles are overstocked – precisely the ones that have dropped considerably in price, too.
It’s just as difficult to plan your production. At times, you don’t have enough temporary workers and the costs of recruiting and employing agency workers is skyrocketing. At other times, you haven’t used these workers for such a long time that several experienced temporary employees have found work elsewhere. That’s unfortunate. But what can you do? These unsettling times are making it difficult to make plans and set a course for your company.
Sofon ensures that all of the details that your sales staff register as part of their daily duties are utilized for sales forecasting without involving any extra work for anyone.
Your sales staff records activities by means of smart questionnaires, which the system uses to automatically calculate probability. The system makes those calculations at every stage of the sales funnel, for example, when a lead becomes an opportunity, or when a budget proposal is confirmed as a quote. By combining all of the detailed information from all the quotes with the probability calculations, Sofon can generate a sales forecast without involving any extra work for you at all. That forecast produces a picture of the volume of anticipated orders with an overview of all the details of the items and services offered. The delivery times are included in the quotes, so that you know when to produce what. Cost prices and order values will also be much clearer.
With this information, you will have a good idea of your future turnover and you can plan your buying and production capacity accordingly. You will be able to see, early on in the process, which products – both those that are time-consuming to produce and those that are not – how many engineers and production staff you need and when. You will also be able to predict whether you will run into problems meeting delivery times or not and will be able to take suitable action to deal with these problems. And if there are services linked to your products, such as an installation, you will know in advance how many mechanics and fitters you will need and when you will need them.
A powerful and fast configurator engine that can be used for the most complex configurations and calculations of any product or service.
Sofon Approval Portal offers extensive additional authorization functions for Sofon Proposal Organizer. The most important addition functionalities include the approval or disapproval of quotation via a portal and the possibility for multiple approval levels.
With the Sofon Approval App, quotations can always and everywhere be approved on a smart phone phone, so that they can be sent to the customer even faster.