The success of any sales force depends on their ability to stay in touch with their customers as well as keeping track of orders, inventory management and replenishment. Many do not realize the potential of Outlook SFA in staying on top of their business as well as the potential business of their customers. Consider a supplier that can track the sales of their products in a customer's place of business, automatically place an order to maintain adequate inventory to meet sales forecasts. By using Outlook SFA, companies can essentially insure their product will be in stock when it is in demand.
Tracking Sales to Determine Product Demand
Many times companies are disappointed in their automatic replenishment systems, but fail to recognize their own failings. With Outlook SFA helping to track sales and replenishment, it will still require intervention to insure the system remains operating at peak performance. Even Outlook SFA will not be able to makes guesses about the amount of product a company has on hand at any one time. However, a supplier working with Outlook SFA can track the known sales and increase or decrease suggested orders when they hit a certain point.
Forecasting sales is a complicated issue and when used by Outlook SFA, several variable factors will need to be included. The time of year, any new competition entering the area as well as anything that could adjust prices locally. All things remaining equal, the amount of products needed can be calculated by Outlook SFA based on last year's numbers only. With sales force automation capabilities, users can input other variables that can affect the projected sales or inventory need. This can allow Outlook SFA to be adjusted when new information becomes available.
Ideally, vendors using Outlook SFA can track the sales of their products in an outlet, peek at the projected sales for the near future, as well as the sales from different periods in the past. Integrated with Outlook, SFA can notify the sales force of pending changes in projections and manual adjustments can be made to insure the outlet can meet its sales projections by having adequate inventory on hand.
In addition to Outlook SFA being able to change the amount of product sent to an outlet to insure an appropriate supply it can also save the seller and vendor money by not allowing too much inventory to build up in a partner's warehouse. By allowing Outlook SFA to work with the vendor's point of sale tracking system, only the amount of product needed to maintain adequate inventory will be ordered and shipped. Of course, if the outlet determines they want to specially promote an item, they can manually add to the product quantity, directly into Outlook SFA.
Any additions to orders that are different from what Outlook SFA has determined will be necessary will be sent to the supplier. When received the supplier can then using the integrated email system with the Outlook SFA to verify the additional order request. Once verified, the order will be placed and shipped, meeting the customer's demands while still maintaining limit inventory.
There are many issues that affect the ordering process with Outlook SFA that might require intervention to keep everything on track. For example, product becomes damaged or stolen and no manual adjustments are made, the numbers held by Outlook SFA will not be accurate resulting in running out of product while still showing the outlet still has merchandise available for sale. If the company receiving the product does not do so accurately, the amount they have will not reflect their actual inventory, which in turn will either result in having way too much or not enough, even if they use Outlook SFA on a daily basis.
When all of the numbers used between the customer and Outlook SFA are accurate and updated, the sales force automation program will insure the customer's stock of merchandise in replenished in a timely manner. Others variables that can interfere with the accuracy of Outlook SFA include how long it will be between the Outlook SFA order is placed and it actually arrives at the customer's door. The turn-around time can be included in the Outlook SFA software to allow the time needed to remain in stock on that item.