While many sectors are coming off a low base as a result of last year’s lockdown, a large number of South African industries have improved significantly this year. Leading the race are the food and beverage as well as the building and hardware industries which reported 349% and 74% growth in orders year-on year, reflecting positive sentiment as the economy continues to recover.
This data was recorded by Skynamo’s Industry Thermometer, which tracks the orders of various sectors every month. Commenting on these results, Zane van Rooyen, Product Marketing Manager at Skynamo, says that food and non-alcoholic beverages have seen a resurgence since June, as customers tuck into their favourite treats to beat the pandemic blues.
“Consumers have had little else to spend their liquid cash on and so have splurged when it comes to eating and drinking,” comments van Rooyen. He believes the recent buying behaviour reflects a need to spoil yourself, while also being mindful of not spending on big-value items.
The building and hardware industry is also enjoying a resurgence, as conditions in the sector improve. “New development, especially in the lower- to middle-income groups, is booming,” says van Rooyen. In addition, many manufacturers had to quickly acquire warehousing regionally to overcome lockdown shortages and restricted movement. “This has led to the building or expanding of storage and warehousing countrywide, which has been a welcome development for the whole industry,” he says.
With this in mind, van Rooyen says that it is vital for sales reps in these industries to take note of this positive trajectory and prepare for the festive season rush. “As retailers anticipate a robust Christmas despite predictions of a fourth COVID wave, now is the time for sales teams make the most of technology to maximise their sales.”
However, sales reps are faced with various challenges, adds van Rooyen. He refers to the Skynamo Field Sales Benchmark 2021 report, which revealed that 52% of those surveyed listed “too much admin” as their primary pain point. The survey was completed by over 250 manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors with field sales teams in North America, the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa to ascertain what their biggest challenges were and how technology could be used to overcome them. “Following spending too much time on admin with long and complicated processes, sales managers said they found it difficult to see what was happening with their customers,” he says.
“What we found is that the time spent by field reps doing admin – in some cases, as much as six hours a week – is diverting their attention away from visiting customers and selling their products,” states van Rooyen. He adds that a separate survey found that nearly a quarter of reps wait until the end of the day to enter data, when they’re tired and can’t remember exact details. “It’s no wonder that nine out of 10 reps believe their own reporting processes fail to deliver accurate information that reflects their customers’ needs.”
The report highlights the ability of technology to streamline processes for sales reps. For instance, a field sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool with built-in GPS can automate many mundane tasks, such as logging drive time and call reports. “By having the right technology in place, field reps are freed up to do what technology can’t – building trust and rapport by spending more face-to-face time with existing and prospective customers,” explains van Rooyen.
With businesses still navigating high levels of uncertainty due to the pandemic, van Rooyen believes it’s important that they invest in the right field sales CRM technology that integrates seamlessly with inventory management, such as Skynamo. “Having access to accurate, real-time data is crucial for informed decision making,” comments van Rooyen. “It not only means field reps see more customers and make more sales, but also allows them to leave work on time and spend more time with their families.”
Heading into the festive season and 2022, van Rooyen is upbeat that many sectors will continue to improve. “I have every confidence that next year we will continue to experience growth in sales and order values, supply chain will start to stabilise, insights on new buyer trends will be obtained and the economy will continue in its quest to right itself,” he concludes.