This ordering process was completely undocumented by the Interdrinks sales force because the customers would call a switch board to make their orders as opposed to calling the sales team. This process entailed that there was no control over the products the bottling company wanted or needed to move. The sales team was working on an outdated pay scale system and needed some type of incentive restructuring to help re-motivate the sales force or at least begin the process of bringing in new blood that could revamp Interdrinks' sales efforts.
The case study provide a very good breakdown of what the local and overall Swiss market offered in terms of other bottling company sales and market demand figures. The company currently bottles Schweppes, Pepsi, mineral water and fruit drinks. There is a market niche for the bottled water and this product could be re-marketed considering that bottled water today costs more than gasoline. The fruit drinks had a market of mother for child and could be reevaluated for accurate sales figures to either justify or cancel this line of products.
Pepsi has its own advertising associated to the bottling contract so that product is basically self maintained and self selling. Schweppes has its own niche market and should only be studied for sales accuracy. One opportunity that the company has is private line bottling where Interdrinks bottles supermarket and small chain store's name recognized products as opposed to some other national brand. The key to understanding the advantages or disadvantages for all of these products including the end customer's needs seem to be irrelevant to Interdrinks as a company. In other words, the existing marketing strategy is that there is no existing marketing strategy. The company knows that small chains like their products but not to the point that they can make viable business decisions on profitability of selling to those small Swiss stores.
The fact that the sales force is small, unmotivated and not well prepared for the twenty first century sales and marketing techniques, it should be a priority of Interdrinks to revamp the sales and marketing approaches. The industry trends require that Interdrinks sales force must be highly motivated, well educated and even better trained than the competition. "The consolidation in the soft drink industry, however, differs from other industries. While ownership, financing and administration may become centralized in some acquisitions, large bottlers must maintain and even expand their local sales, marketing and distribution forces."(Unger, 1999) Through technology and training, the Interdrinks sales force could save the company in the future.
Today, the bottling industry is a highly competitive industry and the methodologies currently being implemented by Interdrinks amount to not having a strategy at all. Bottling companies like Interdrinks are in a do or die position where they have to turn themselves into a customer-driven enterprise that is in the process of understanding their customers. "Previously self-contained local, regional, and national economies are being transformed into interdependent parts of an integrated world economy. As a result, global economic competition is combining with vast improvements in global communication, transportation, and finance to accelerate the pace, intensity, and scope of economic change, even in the smallest and most-remote places." (Kotler, Haider, & Rein, 1993)
Currently, Interdrinks is in a position where they cannot clearly define their customers because their customer information base is a fragmented pile of unsubstantiated information that is not making its way across organizational communication channels. Interdrinks current lack of unique, complete, and correct customer or competitor data will create irreversible situations where they will continue to have increased operating costs, missed revenue opportunities, low customer satisfaction scales and potential public relations debacles.
Advance Suggestions as to How the Company Can Improve the Performance of Its Sales Force.
Interdrinks Company as an organization has a very basic problem that stems from a lack of planning. They do not plan so they are literally planning to fail. The company can not increase sales with out a viable plan of where they want to be and how they want to get there. These organizational plans need to be concise and measurable so that all other organizational functions and objectives are focused to meet the company sales and profitability goals based on existing and projected market trends.
The next very important productivity strategy for Interdrinks Company for increasing sales would be to fire the current national sales manager, Antoine Jeanneau. The twenty first century global industry process needs aggressive and technologically advanced leadership that can address the productivity of a sales force and understand how to produce more and measurable results in regard to sales productivity.
Even a simple integrated laptop system and company sponsored cell phone could improve productivity dramatically. The point here is not that Interdrinks should immediately institute a cell phone laptop system, the point is that the national sales manager is privy to what the best opportunity is to increase sales whether the increase comes through new application of resources or the introduction to new sales force technology tools. If a sales manager is unprepared to assess the needs of the company and his sales team, then that sales manger should be looking for employment in another capacity. Sales are a culmination of knowing oneself, the customer, the competition and finally the product. Antoine Jeanneau has done none of these basic tenets.
The new national sales manager or a drastically changed Antoine Jeanneau should establish two critical areas for the Interdrinks sales team so they can make obviously needed adjustments for improved productivity and effectiveness. The sales manger needs to clearly identify and revamp the existing sales territory design to incorporate the now missing pieces of successful sales. The territories should be assigned to the most capable sales representatives whether they are new or retrained current members.
Gone should be the days of a sales representative being completely oblivious of his customers' product orders or needs. The new national sales manager must develop the sales region through proven methods and techniques that are geared to first evaluate the existing sales territories and then redesign these territories as needed to meet the organization's sales and profitability projections.
The next improvement the new national sales manger should implement would be a new sales force automation solutions process. The company should invest in comprehensive sales follow-up process software that would allow the entire sales and management teams to have pertinent data about all sales calls made, with whom those calls were made and by who, and information pertaining to calls not being made.
There are viable and affordable software solutions that could interpret and produce reports that could then be used to monitor the progress of each sales rep and every new and potential customer. Sales force automation technology would instantly increase the potential of each sales representative as well as drive the marketing and sales processes. The same way the company has maximized productivity I the bottling functions, technology would increase the marketing and selling potential of the entire organization. Interdrinks must understand that the real issues regarding sales force productivity can be resolved by simply implementing a process that corresponds with the overall organizational objectives. Technology in the form of hardware, software and connectivity networks would first support the current selling process and then eventually help redesign it in the future.
The national sales manger would also need to work with the Human Resource function to revamp the sales and bonus compensation structure within the company. Sales force compensation pay systems must be built around a solid organizational objective foundation. In other words, the company must clearly articulate its business strategy and objectives so that the sales team actually knows the company expects of it.
This clear understanding by the sales force's role in implementing the company's strategy identifies what Interdrinks needs them to do in order to meet organizational objectives. The compensation package can then be created to reward those individuals that best meet the needs and expectations of the organization's goals. In this type of a system, poor performers will naturally eliminate themselves from consideration for advancement and bonus.
Recommended Brand Management Strategy the Company Should Pursue
Like the compensation of its sales team, a brand management strategy that Interdrinks should pursue can only be established by the organizational objectives that would be clarified in the organizational objectives fro profitability and growth. It would be easy to state that any of the products Interdrinks currently bottles and sells could be a winner in the industry through proper information management, promotion, pricing, and detailed market knowledge. For example, Schweppes can be considered a solid competitor against both Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the right market setting.
However, the opposite could be said in the wrong market setting. In other words, Interdrinks should first address the company issues revolving around expectations for profitability and growth. The results of the organizational objectives would then dictate the product plan of attack which for example could say to focus on Schweppes with a specific marketing approach but drop…