The Covid-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc to global businesses, disrupting supply chains. Mid-sized manufacturers are especially facing challenges; with declining revenues and many of them are forced to close factories and shops. The only way to survive this crisis is by leveraging technology and by digitizing processes across the business. From that perspective it is interesting to understand how a Madurai-based mid-sized manufacturing company achieves process-oriented growth, including streamlining its logistics with advanced analytics solutions amidst the crisis.
With growth comes challenge
Founded in 2001, Concretia Rock Products Private Limited, manufactures and supplies construction aggregate to customers in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. Available in different grades, construction aggregates are made up of particulate matter such as sand and crushed stone. They form the bulk of concrete, which is the second most used substance in the world after water, and crucial to the construction sector.
However, Concretia, like most other mid-sized manufacturers, have had its fair share of teething challenges. Rajesh K, founder and managing director states, “To begin with, the sales team at Concretia operated in an ad-hoc manner, wherein salespeople manually noted down customer information on data sheets. This meant that key details could be omitted or jotted down illegibly. In the absence of technology, leadership had no way of monitoring these loopholes and fixing them quickly.”
The other problem, he mentioned was that with insufficient data on customers, sales conversations were not tailored to customer needs and did not result in enough conversions.
“Middlemen connect us to the customer, but we do not want them to be an influencing factor for our business. So, our objective is to get very close to the customers,” says Rajesh, emphasizing on the important of salespersons at Concretia’s ecosystem.
With time however these and more challenges surfaced as the company scaled up in size and capacity. In 2012, the team surveyed the Madurai district, mapping the various types of potential customers (such as civil engineers and contractors) and their needs. To their surprise, they found that this one district alone had 10,000 engineers and contractors. Concretia counted around 2000 of them as customers, procuring orders from 300-400 customers on a regular basis.
“We had so much potential in this one district,” says Rajesh. “I decided that we needed to restructure our processes to take advantage of this.
The need of the hour was to deploy a holistic technology could help build a scalable model, as Rajesh says, “Once we master a business model for this geography, it can be scaled up across other geographies easily and rapidly.”
Cementing customer relationships
This thought led Concretia to look for the right technology partner that can help them build a scalable business model to achieve process-oriented growth. The company chose IT provider Salesforce to automate the business end-to-end and get the desired results.
The sales team uses Salesforce to geo-tag construction sites and upload site images. Extensive data on each site is consolidated on the platform, including details such as status of the site, type of customer and materials used.
Such granular customer data is helping salespeople explain value propositions better. For instance, if the customer is an engineer, the salesperson emphasises how a certain quality of aggregate would mean greater durability for the project, despite the price being higher. However, a conversation with a contractor would focus on the best possible grades of aggregate available at a certain price point.
In other words, implementing Salesforce has helped the sales team easily understand the sales process and sell in a smarter way by enabling relevant, targeted conversations with customers.
Constructing a process-oriented business
Order booking and invoicing are also done on Salesforce. Rules and parameters that are readily available on the system have made these processes error-free. For example, a customer cannot be invoiced if their KYC is incomplete or their credit limit exceeded. Credit customers need to satisfy more stringent parameters as compared to cash customers.
Collections and customer complaints are also monitored via Salesforce. With these well-defined processes in place, Concretia has begun to see clear business benefits.
“Earlier, the team converted 15-20 customers a month with my intervention,” says Rajesh, adding that the company now on-boards 70-100 customers in the same period with no need for anyone’s intervention. Concretia foresees the potential to convert 400 customers per month.
Concretia is also using Salesforce to streamline its logistics. Automating vehicle and delivery management processes has ensured that trucks are always available for loading, travel optimized routes, and are released from sites on time to maintain delivery schedules.
Rajesh says that automating the business end-to-end on Salesforce was a great decision. “The whole cycle, from lead generation, to order and despatch, to collection is completed smoothly and automatically, without my having to intervene. Everything is very transparent. This would not have been possible without the versatility of Salesforce,” he says.
Building employee morale
An unexpected benefit of technology adoption has been the boost to employee morale. Earlier, salespeople were only measured on how much business they brought in. But by automating processes, the leadership team is now able to monitor and measure the activity and efficiency of salespeople.
“We tell our salespeople to master the platform first and then focus on procuring the order,” explains Rajesh. “We have observed that when activities are performed according to the defined process, customers are influenced positively and are more likely to convert, since customer data is leading to more relevant conversations.”
Additionally, training gaps are easily identified since field activity follows a clearly defined protocol. It now takes a new sales recruit a mere 15 days to begin work independently, whereas it earlier took nearly six months of training.
A single customer view also means that a new salesperson can easily pick up where the earlier employee left off, ensuring that the customer does not experience any disruption.
“We cannot imagine operating without Salesforce. These robust processes have majorly boosted our internal efficiencies,” observes Rajesh.
Paving the way for a concrete future
Concretia currently uses Einstein Analytics to slice and dice customer data for daily reports. The employees use these reports for sales recommendations. Rajesh, in fact, has many more plans for Einstein Analytics.
“From the data we have, such as stage of construction in each site and repeat orders per customer, we hope to forecast the potential of a particular area. This will help us map and optimise our future sales budget across sites,” says Rajesh.
Also on the anvil are ordering and delivery apps that work off the data on Salesforce to provide existing customers total transparency and access to purchase options, price and discounts, as well as delivery schedules.
With an automated business model that frees up the team to focus on value addition and customer acquisition, Concretia is well on its way to create the bright future it has envisioned for itself, believes Rajesh.
“By 2021, Concretia will span across the entire sector of concrete with more products and solutions. We will then take this business model to multiple geographies, both nationally and globally,” he sums up.