Client Focus: Fosters Traditional Foods
Fosters Traditional Foods specialise in supplying traditional ambient food products to the independent, garden centre, farm shop and convenience sectors. It sells around 2500 products and is a major supplier of seasonal foods and food gifts. The company currently has fifteen MiniSell users.
Aspin spoke to Mara Hayes, Fosters’ field sales operations coordinator, about MiniSell and how it had helped to improve their sales processes.
“recently reverted to taking hand written orders”
Although Fosters’ reps had been using a bespoke notebook based sales order taking application for a number of years, they had recently reverted to taking hand-written orders and faxing them back to the office, due to the system’s lack of reliability. However, as Mara explains, this was not without its drawbacks:
“The reps were given journey plans, compiled by CACI’s Call Smart call scheduling software and forms showing what the customers had previously ordered, some of which could take up to three days for the office to prepare. They were also provided with stock availability sheets but going through all of this paperwork during a call was incredibly impractical and un-realistic so customers were resigned to the fact that they would only receive some of the items that they had ordered…
“a lot of frustration for the reps”
Because the reps did not have the information to hand everything was very ‘reactive’. They would place an order for an over-due account and then credit control would contact the customer the next day. This ended up in a lot of frustration for our reps as they wasted time taking orders which did not count against their targets.
Once the orders had been received by the office they were keyed into our Xeres sales order processing system by our customer services team. As ever, hand-written orders were often hard to decipher and this led to lots of keying mistakes. This meant that customers had to be credited for incorrectly ordered items, which in turn generated a lot of extra phone calls and paperwork.”
“reps are now equipped”
Fosters’ reps are now equipped with Opticon H19a Pocket PC PDAs running MiniSell. With MiniSell, the reps are able to take orders, issue credits, carry out questionnaires and update customer contact information.
The reps are guided through the call and order taking process with a series of warnings that notify them if an item is out of stock, whether the minimum order value has been reached or if a customer is over their credit limit. The information on the reps’ handhelds is refreshed with daily updates to their journey plans from CACI and customer, sales order history and product information from Fosters’ Xeres back office system.
“provides a call schedule for each rep”
MiniSell provides a call schedule for each rep showing which customers need to be visited and then enables the reps to reschedule them as required. Each call encapsulates any orders or other transactions taken by the rep, and MiniSell also records the exact time and location at which a call was started and finished. Once the rep has finished a call all they have to do is upload their orders to the MiniSell server before they are pulled in by Fosters’ Xeres system.
“We’ve reduced the number of staff keying orders”
“MiniSell has reduced the amount of time our reps spend at home faxing their orders. What’s more, everything we receive before 2 o’clock can be processed the same day. We’ve also been able to reduce the number of customer services staff that are dedicated to keying orders…
Orders are never lost with MiniSell and we can quickly resolve customer disputes as to what was and what wasn’t originally ordered. MiniSell also sends customers an email order confirmation, so again this reduces the likelihood of disputes…
In the office we make use of the MiniSell online sales reporting system, checking the calls report and using the Google Maps feature to check whether the reps actually went to visit the customer or not. It’s also good to be able to get an overview of how many orders have been taken over a particular time period, and, for each order, we can also see what was ordered against what was actually shipped which means we can clearly show the reps why they haven’t reached their targets.
“MiniSell is helping us convert prospects to customers”
We’ve even got a couple of telesales reps using MiniSell via a remote display control attached to their PCs who are working on updating our customer contact info and following up on prospects. A lot of the time the reps don’t have the time to follow these leads up so MiniSell is also helping us to increase the number of prospects we’re able to convert into customers…”
Thank you Mara Hayes.