How a leading cement manufacturer brought its sales, retailers, and distributors onto a unique platform, streamlined business operations, and increased sales turnover
For a moment, imagine being a field salesperson working for a cement manufacturer that has ambitious plans to drive business growth. As is the case with most sellers, your primary goal would be to boost revenue. Now think about this scenario. As the lead sales rep, what if you spend significant bandwidth on responding to queries overs calls from dealers and retailers. By 'significant,' we mean about 100 odd daily phone calls with distributors and back-office teams. Now, reimagine what can happen if the sales reps spent the same bandwidth on revenue generation tactics. Any organization looking for growth would want to fix this process, and that's what got us into this engagement with our client.

Today, our client has sales reps spread across the business geography, and they don't spend any time brokering conversations between the channel partners and back-office teams. They do what is core to their role – sell and serve client needs. Result? The 3,00,000 large sales and distribution ecosystem is witnessing more than 25% growth in winning new businesses. Let's explore how transformed the sales and distribution management for our client.

The Challenge
Inefficient order management that was overdependent on manual interventions from sales and back-office teams while collaborating with dealers, retailers, and influencers
For all their business needs, the dealers reached out to the sales reps. Most of their queries circled, increasing the credit limits, placing fresh orders, checking for available cash discounts, reviewing old orders, and several similar transactions. The sales team often served as the intermediary between the back-office groups and the dealer network to resolve them. This entire process of sales-channel partner communication was entirely manual and repetitive. There was an immediate business need to automate this process and free up the sales bandwidth for revenue generation-oriented activities. This issue also adversely affected the dealers and retailers in fulfilling the end customer requirements.
High latency in reporting channel partner's performance that impeded business growth
The manual and paperwork-intensive process made it challenging for the leadership to check the channel partner performance on a real-time basis. It also thwarted their efforts to incentivize the high-performing partners and push the low-performers to do better by reviewing their KRAs and KPIs. Lack of analytics-based insights created an opaque ecosystem and discouraged the use of data-led insights to make decisions.
Sub-optimal user experiences for the sales, operations, and distribution partners
With voice communication being the only way to partner with the sales teams, the dealers and retailers struggled with below-par user experiences. Everything single activity critical to their success was marred with poor user experiences. Whether it's about placing orders, checking cash limits, loyalty points, performance tracking, loading and dispatching of goods, the channel partners were not optimally set to succeed. And, for sales, it was an equally convoluted and complicated experience.
Inability to grow business at-scale with archaic ways of channel partner onboarding and retention
For our client, a vast distribution network was a critical element of their growth strategy. They couldn't have depended on the existing manual onboarding process for the new channel partners. Not only onboarding, but the situation also demanded significant changes to retain existing channel partners by providing them with all they need to succeed.
Figure 1– Four key bottlenecks that stymied the sales and distribution function for our client
The Solution
Streamline business operations by enabling real-time multi-way communication between channel partners and sales teams through cloud-based platforms and mobile apps
Our cloud, microservices, DevOps, and mobility experts built a cloud-native application to bring everyone onto a single platform. This application was built on the AWS cloud platform with microservices enabled architecture. The platform was based on open source technology and supported iOS and Android-based devices.
With this solution in place, now the dealers don't have to depend on a sales rep to achieve the below listed. It was all available on their smartphones in real-time, anywhere.
  • Get access to credit-related information.
  • Book orders and share fresh leads with sales.
  • Check the status of their order requests.
  • Track their shipments and get e-proofs of delivery
Likewise, the retail and influence channels could now raise requests for new orders with dealers, track shipments, share fresh leads with distributors, besides many other activities. The solution enabled smooth and quick onboarding of new channel partners that contributed to revenue growth, distribution network, and market share for our client.
Shift from manual paperwork and voice communication-led archaic experiences to consistent omnichannel digital experiences for channel partners
The solution offered enhanced and uniform user experience for the channel partners – on both the web and mobile applications. The solution supported eight languages to meet multi-lingual regional requirements. We ensured that the system supported offline transactions to promote business continuity in areas with poor network connectivity. The solution offered great flexibility in integrating with bot and wearable devices. The sales and back-office teams could alert the channel partners through push notifications to promote new campaigns and schemes. These notifications were programmed using a machine learning algorithm that required some data feed.
Figure 2 – Cloud-based platform & mobile apps streamlined business operations and drove improved user experiences for the channel partners and employees
The Impact
A connected, growing, and streamlined organization
  • The new platform has brought together a large ecosystem of around 3,00,000 dealers, retailers, sales reps, influencers, and back-office folks. At a time, more than 5000 users are working simultaneously on the application and collaborating on building new business along with serving existing clients. The back office is now free of paperwork and telephonic or other communication methods to collaborate with the channel partners. Both the organization and the channel partners now have instant access to data and analytics, helping them win more business. Onboarding new channel partners can now be done quickly, which will help drive the distribution network and, eventually, growth and market share.
  • The sales teams don't spend time on non-revenue generating back-office tasks. Technology and process streamlining have freed up their bandwidth to win more business and improve their market share across organized and unorganized segments. Our client is now clocking 25-30% revenue growth in winning new businesses.
  • In a nutshell, this innovative solution has established a digital platform to fuel growth at-scale, streamline front and back-office operations, drive analytics-led decision making, and build consistent, user-friendly experiences. When drafting this story, our team was working on building the second phase of this transformational project. This new phase would help the sales rep get better at cross-selling complementary products and services to clients. More on that, later.
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