A CRM for publishers selling to schools
We have publishing clients who sell to schools. Our first association with this segment is almost three years old. Here’s the story of how we built, ground up an efficient and effective CRM for publishers selling to schools.
We initially tried to force- fit our solution. But, soon we realized this is a unique model. Schools rarely buy books themselves, but they prescribe. Books are bought by students once a year; from designated book-sellers. The books are decided at least 2-3 months before that.
So, this business has a season. For all of 4-5 months, salesmen fan out to schools, meet the decision makers – curriculum leaders, Principal and many times, the owner of the school. Sometimes they hand out or mail samples.
This is not a trivial exercise. The sheer logistics and and metronomic nature of the job is daunting. One client of ours, in one season alone logged 35000+ visits by using 90 salesmen across India. Their norm was 4-5 visits per working day. Another client told us their volume of samples handed out in a year itself crossed Rs 10 Crores.
We built the CRM for publishers ground up.
Issues the clients grappled with were:
- Coverage. Are you sure all the schools in the markets are in your database?
- Contact: Are you getting in early in the academic year, right in the beginning of the evaluation cycle and registering your presence and credentials?
- Penetration: Have you identified and met with and presented your products to all the key stakeholders in the decision making process?
Tracking key parameters and milestones are important in every industry. Book finalization date is one such date to track. Because after that date, no more selling- the decision is taken and if your book (s) did not make the cut, wait till next year.
It helped that we are fundamentally mobile first, web first. So, we made it possible for salespeople to add schools and booksellers in the database on the fly; not have to wait for them to come back to office. We focused on efficiency and ease of use and validated with early users.
It all worked out.
Logistics and cost of samples distribution
- Ensure the samples are distributed to the correct people.
- Measure the results of the samples distribution.
- Capture all sample requests and fulfill them in a timely manner.
We knew we had to crack this to be effective. So, we track every piece of sample that is given out, we capture the samples inventory carried by sales people. At the end of the year, it is easy for us to compare the books prescribed by a school and the samples given out.
Discipline and administration
It is hard work keeping the same routine day after day and setting up visits and following up. In this business, the more people you meet, and regularly at that, translates into more business.
- How do you ensure your sales people are setting the pace, visiting at least 4-5 schools per day?
- Ensure they did visit the schools they said they visited.
- Make the sale people see value in using the mobile app for reporting?
We knew we had to get this one right. So we worked on functionality and clean UI to ensure that sales people logged visits and meeting notes in an easy to read format. And, in an attempt to do away with multiple updates and printouts, we did this online. Not only that, we ensured the managers could email a comment right there and then by clicking reply to the visit note.
Huge, huge help when you are managing a dispersed sales team, spread across states. And, of course we allow you to track the visits with the help of GPS- taking the subjectivity out of those “what were you doing all day?” discussions.