For generations, home owners, trade professionals, architects and specifiers have relied on products from Dulux Group. The organisation’s paints, home improvement and garden products include many of Australia’s leading brands such as Dulux, Selleys, Yates, Cabot’s, British Paints, Berger, Poly and Hortico. The products are widely available from nurseries and garden centres, hardware, paint and home care stores, and are also sold direct to trade customers. DuluxGroup sales are managed by a team of approximately 300 sales people across Australia and New Zealand.

The sales dilemma

The DuluxGroup embarked on an ambitious project aimed to provide the sales team with a better way of communicating while out on the road. The company deployed SAM, a mobile sales automation solution from Markinson Business Software Solutions.

Regular mail and airbags had become too laborious, time-consuming, and costly. Getting a new promotional campaign out to the salesforce involved physically putting together paper packs of information and incurred the expense of colour photocopies, extra labour and postage. There was little sense of immediacy when sales people could still be receiving information packs two weeks into the actual promotion.

In addition, management saw SAM as a way of gathering more comprehensive field information so that they could better analyse, understand and support sales performance.

Stephen Mooney, DuluxGroup Sales Effectiveness Manager explains, “The aspiration was to gather better information and to ensure that sales people were doing what they were required to do. Besides the communications need, SAM was initially largely viewed as a compliance tool.”

SAM was selected because it had the breadth of functionality that Dulux was after. SAM included full sales force automation functionality - a network environment that stood up to the processing task and a simple interface that sales reps would embrace. It was also capable of being tailored to provide a unique interface for each of DuluxGroup’s four separate business divisions. In effect, it was a deployment of four separate implementations.

It didn’t take long for SAM to change the way Dulux sales reps operated. Equipped with laptops and the sales automation software, reps have discovered a new depth of information at their fingertips. Armed with sales histories, credit information, pricing, detailed customer contact notes and promotional materials, reps are no longer reliant on calls to customer services, sales and marketing for additional information.

Data synchronisation ensures that whenever a rep logs on to the system, new orders are uploaded and any changes to pricing, product specifications or other databases are downloaded to the laptop immediately. Information always remains current and there’s a new immediacy to communications.

Mooney comments:

“SAM is a tool to help people do their jobs. It gives them the information they need such as customer histories and sales data. It provides the data they need to prepare for the call, to do the call and to follow up,” 

A management view

Having solved the problem of communication while on the road, Dulux turned attention to the next challenge: creating a management view of its sales data. What was needed was a way of bringing together all the data and analysing it from multiple angles such as sales revenue by product, by team or by individual.

Mooney says, “That’s how we came to introduce Korellus BI.” Integrated with SAM, Korellus BI extracts data from the sales automation software to provide automatic analysis of business performance using key performance indicators and other benchmarks. “BI looks at what calls someone plans to make and compares it to the number of calls they actually made. This allows us to see how frequently a rep is calling on customers, how often they use SAM, and how well they are performing against their objectives.”

Mooney adds:

“We put a lot of energy into designing BI as a really good management tool that would give managers a meaningful view of the world. What we created is a system that captures information about where we are directing sales resources and how effective the reps are against that. It gives us at long last the ability to prioritise the frequency of visits based on customer opportunity. It’s a resource planning and staff management reporting tool,” 

Customer segmentation by type of business, profitability and opportunity has become far easier and the analysis is also helping field staff. Where once reps had to wait until end of month to receive a hard copy report showing sales performance against budget, they now receive the information on their laptop every week.

The power of two

Dulux Group’s sales and BI projects have been driven by four main priorities. First was the need to get the core tool - SAM - right. Next was the management view of data through the introduction of BI. Mooney says that Dulux is now addressing the third priority which is to dig even deeper into SAM and its databases to provide more customer profiling. Mooney is confident that this will highlight unfulfilled sales opportunities, and data to help reps up-sell and cross-sell to their customers.

The fourth and final priority will be a matter of hardware. Mobility technology has changed dramatically in the past couple of years and Mooney believes it is time to take a fresh look at the hardware Dulux uses to equip its reps.

“So far, we have managed to get the first three things working well together. Managers are driving the tool. The front line sales guys are using it and we are obtaining good insights into sales performance. The software is helping us to direct sales people in a more efficient manner at the highest growth customers and it’s giving sales all the information they need to do their job more effectively.”

A continuing journey

With regards to the sales and business intelligence software, Mooney says, “It’s a good solution for organisations that are interested in leveraging their investment in sales people, but you need to understand your processes before you put something like this in place.

Also, there will always be ongoing improvements to the systems. There’s no doubt about that. We upgrade the software at least once a year but the changes aren’t really about the software. It’s more about our processes and how the system supports them. It has to be dynamic to keep up with the business.”