Freeing Up Sales Reps

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2006-11-06 Email Print this article Print

A new wave of workers—from sales reps to logistics staffers—use business intelligence tools on the job.

Freeing Up Sales Reps

Take Mölnlycke Health Care, which began using Cognos' ReportNet for sales reporting in 2001. The company subsequently standardized on the Cognos platform for most of its other business intelligence reports.

Territory, regional and national account managers—a total of about 200 worldwide—use the reports to prepare for sales calls to hospitals, group purchasing organizations and other customers, Dean says. A territory manager, for instance, can create a single report that shows several key performance indicators such as annual product usage for the previous five years, rolling 12-month usage by product, pricing by product and contract details. The data comes from different sources, including reports on merchandise sent to distributors, contract information maintained in the company's homegrown contract system, and master data from its sales database.

Thanks to the tools, Mölnlycke has realized savings of more than 600 man-hours in information technology, and thousands of hours among the sales staff per year—by eliminating labor-intensive data gathering and analysis processes. For a sales rep, less time spent on research means more time can be devoted to customers on sales calls.

Before deploying a system, Mölnlycke's information-technology department met with sales and finance managers to understand their needs and processes so I.T. could select the most effective product, Dean says. The company considered Hyperion and Business Objects, and chose Cognos because it had been an industry leader for many years and had a more extensive solution, Dean says. She declined to disclose the cost, but says that "we have seen a significant ROI [return on investment] on each project we have completed."

The biggest hurdle? Employee acceptance, Dean says. "Our users never had a 'self-service' reporting solution prior to the BI deployment. They had very low expectations and worried that it would cause more work for them once BI was deployed. We overcame their concerns by involving them throughout the entire process," she says.


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