Consumer Experience in Retail: How Performance Enablement Helps with Frontline Learning, Engagement, and More
Economic News May 2023 and How Performance Enablement Protects Against Downturns
As “earnings season” begins, with large corporations reporting their results from the first quarter of 2023 and wondering how to increase sales performance, investors are on edge. Of course, many will have already prepared themselves for bad tidings concerning mid-sized and smaller bank lending and company profit margins (though large banks like JP Morgan and Wells Fargo have already posted strong results).
Traditionally this is the time of the year when CEOs hint of negative news to soften expectations. Yet there are so many such hints, complemented by continued concerns about inflations and higher interest rates, that investors and CFOs truly are worried both about what the reports will include, and what they will portend about coming business quarters.
While we can’t purport to be economists, we are business analysts, and we can consider the market trends at play here, from the business-friendly labor market with slack hiring, to depressed consumer spending. And we can suggest how large organizations could cope with rough waters by rethinking the role of technology, as a way to increase sales performance, in their line of business.
The Walmart Example: The Economic Situation 2023 and the Role of Automation
There’s something of a perfect storm brewing for an economic slowdown, if not a recession. This won’t surprise business leaders. The ranks of the unemployed are starting to balloon, with, for instance, Walmart having laid off over 3000 eCommerce workers in favor of automating their jobs. At the same time, the Federal Reserve Bank continues to ratchet up interest rates while the Core Consumer Price Index–consumer prices excluding volatile products like groceries–rises.
Where will those excess workers go? How will they afford consumer goods with prices remaining high? What will companies do given that there is a limit on how high they can raise prices and still meet consumer demand, while interest rates continue to eat into their bottom lines? How will they increase sales performance?
In essence, companies are faced with two competing obligations, on the one hand to drive down expenses, on the other hand to drive up revenue. They’re going to have to learn to do more with less available.
Across industries, corporate leaders are finding their own ways of meeting this challenge. Back to the earlier example of Walmart, this retail behemoth is investing in robotization in order to trim labor expenses and invest in the next phase of technological advancement. Whatever you think of this ethically, it makes sound financial sense. However, enterprises with large sales forces might think they don’t have that option. Yet just as large organizations are investing in robotization for manufacturing and distribution processes, they should consider investing in automation for the sales force lifecycle.
Automation and AI to Modernize Operations and Increase Sales Performance
While manufacturing and distribution become increasingly robotized, for enterprises that rely on large sales forces for profitability, there’s a limit to how much real, flesh-and-blood people can be “automated away.” In retail environments, cashierless POSs have been in use for years, but as CNN wrote last year, “nobody likes it.” Especially in higher-touch environments, and for industries like direct selling that rely on face-to-face interactions, the fact is that people (that is, customers) want to speak to other people.
What you can automate and force-multiply, at once trimming labor expenses and driving more revenue, is workforce capability. That is, the ability of the workforce and/or sales force to perform at scale: digitalizing and centralizing operations that previously were done manually or in siloed locations, intelligently suggesting smart sales actions (customers to contact; learnings to review), stimulating sales conversions with live progress visualization, and so forth.
You can do this with unified applications delivered live to the sales force through mobile technology–whether that means the retail frontline, direct selling distributors, insurance agents, or other distributed workforces.
The Rallyware Example: Performance Enablement for Operations
With Rallyware’s Performance Enablement Platform, you’re investing in technology to cut expenses, consolidating multiple tools in a single platform and User Experience, thus cutting out extraneous vendors.
Automation cuts costs as well, like training expenses, while reducing time to sale. At the same time, you’re increasing the sales force’s core capability with AI that interprets past performance data and results to suggest current smart actions, via push notifications, in order to increase sales performance and automate engagement that companies once had to expend crucial SG&A to generate.
The end result here is a modernization of operations for today’s sales force–akin to Walmart’s attempt to stem losses caused by our straitened economic circumstances in 2023, but applied to sales force productivity and performance (operations) rather than the distribution or light-manufacturing process. This effectively accelerates and force-enables the processes that once required human effort and attention, without losing the human touch of the individual sales force member on whom customers rely.
At a moment when consumers are less likely to spend and businesses must be more careful about their investments, technology that stokes productivity, automates customer relationship building, and trims operational and software costs will prove invaluable.
Conclusion: Cost-Effective Performance Enablement for the Sales Force
As earnings season kicks into gear, and businesses and consumers get buffeted by winds that range from interest rates to inflation and layoffs, it’s incumbent on large organizations to survey their options not only for “austerity,” but how to cost-effectively increase sales performance for the workforce they have. As we have been arguing, exploring tech options that are POService rather than POSale, also known as Performance Enablement Platforms, are a solid option to drive higher revenue, and one that more organizations with large sales forces are looking toward right now.
Rallyware provides the Performance Enablement Platform for enterprises with large sales forces. To learn more about how Rallyware enables higher revenue, cut costs, and drives productivity at scale, click here and request your demo.
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