Cutting workload planning from days to minutes
SAS optimizes segmentation and planning at Truvo
Is it possible to plan the workload of employees in only a matter of minutes? Especially when a varietyof operational business constraints need to be taken into account? According to Truvo, it is! With the help of SAS and 4C Consulting, this international cross-media group automated the workload planning of its sales force. It reduced planning time from several days to less than four minutes. And it frees up valuable time for sales management to spend on analyzing past sales successes to establish best practices and extend the company's advantage over the competition.
Truvo is an international group offering local search and advertising services. In Belgium, it is the largest cross-media solutions provider. More than 75 percent of all Belgians use print, online, mobile, and/or GPS media provided by Truvo. The company's goldenpages.be ranks among the top-ten websites in Belgium. To safeguard and extend its market leadership, Truvo operates an extensive sales force. "We have more than 300 sales staff on the road and in our call center. Planning their workload is no easy task." stresses Geert Peeraer, Market Segmentation Manager at Truvo.
4C Consulting and SAS delivered a planning solution that is perfectly in line with our needs. Not only does it account for all of our requirements, it also delivers the results in less than four minutes.
Market Segmentation Manager
Towards more efficient workload planning
Each year, Truvo aims to reach all 95,000 of its customers and over 170,000 prospects through sales campaigns. The group divides these contacts among its entire sales force in two separate phases.
First, the contacts are divided into sales channels such as key accounts, field sales, telesales, or direct marketing. Truvo then allocates customers and prospects to individual sales reps based on several requirements. "We first consider regions, so that we can minimize the distance our sales reps have to travel between contacts. We also aim for continuity, so that our representatives can build a strong relationship with their customers. And of course we focus on optimizing each sales rep's customer portfolio in order to achieve a fair balance in commission fees," illustrates Peeraer. "This helps increase our staff's job satisfaction even further."
Automating complex planning process
This workload planning used to be performed manually; a very time-consuming process. On average, it took three to four days every four months to finalize a workload plan. Allocating this much time was no longer acceptable. So Truvo decided to automate the process. After investigating the market, the company opted for SAS. "SAS was the only company with the tools that fit our segmentation requirements," explains Peeraer. "Other packages only take into account one condition, for instance the geographical spread of our contacts. It would be too much of a hassle to customize these tools to accommodate our other requirements."
SAS enables the identification of the appropriate sales channel for each customer and prospect based on their commercial potential. SAS calculates the risk and the visiting cost of each customer. It also estimates each prospect's propensity to buy and translates this into a star rating. "To accomplish this, we use a huge amount of data from various sources, including among others, customer contracts, surveys, visits to the Truvo website, and the Graydon Database," notes Peeraer. "Thanks to its unique capabilities, SAS can process these combined data quickly."
4C Consulting delivers tunable planning solution
SAS also enabled the automation of the next step in the segmentation process, allocating all sales channel contacts to individual sales reps based on the three pre-defined requirements: region, continuity, and customer value. However, Truvo required some additional fine-tuning. "We wanted to stay in control of the planning process. So we needed a tool that enables us to make adjustments as needed," states Peeraer. "That is why we contacted 4C Consulting."
4C Consulting, a preferred SAS partner, customized the SAS technology to develop a user-friendly dashboard. This enables the users to customize various criteria. For instance, if Truvo wants to focus temporarily on relationship building, the users can emphasize continuity by giving it more weight in the calculation. The solution also exports the results to Microsoft Excel. In Excel, the sales managers can still make any necessary adjustments before handing the reports over to the sales reps.
Fast implementation within budget
Truvo is very pleased with the tool. "What used to take us days to finish, is now accomplished by SAS in only minutes," enthuses Peeraer. "It enables us to perform several test runs. It also frees up time that we can now spend on other business-critical issues, such as analyzing past sales successes to establish best practices and extend our competitive advantage."
The entire planning solution was built within the original deadlines and budget. "It took only 75 days from the initial analysis of our requirements to the actual implementation," states Peeraer. "Moreover, we only had to invest a limited amount of time in the project. 4C Consulting covered all technical aspects, while we took care of the coordination."
Towards a fully integrated campaign management solution
The project has also opened opportunities for further efficiency improvements. Truvo is planning to integrate the SAS-based workload planning tool into a campaign management solution. "The idea is to create a business-friendly user interface that automates the sales management process even further, including the definition of sales targets and commission fees," says Peeraer. "The first steps in this new project have already been taken."
Improving sales force workload planning
- More efficient workload planning: before implementation of SAS, it took Truvo days to finalize the workload planning of its sales force. Now, it is a matter of minutes.
- More time for business issues: this freed-up time enables the Truvo sales department to focus on other important business issues, such as evaluating past sales successes to establish best practices.
- Cost-effective implementation: 4C Consulting developed and implemented the tailored SAS-based planning solution in less than 75 days.