Integrating new technology takes more than just installing software – to take advantage of the full potential, leaders must first make sure their employees know how to navigate the new environment effortlessly.
In recent years, many companies adopted numerous new digital tools like custom mobile apps, work management platforms, and security measures like VPNs or antivirus software in hopes of taking their business to the next level. However, our guest today believes, that while technology can enhance business operations, certain processes are more successful when there’s genuine human interaction involved.
To discuss the ins and outs of modern sales practices, we invited Swaroop Vijayakumar, the Co-Founder & CEO of Fieldproxy – an app helping managers keep track of their field agents in real time.
How did the idea of Fieldproxy come to life? What has the journey been like?
We noticed in our research that almost 80% of the world's workforce operates manual sales. This means field sales, going from door to door or customer to customer, selling them products, or fixing their products. We also noticed that there was a huge gap between the amount of work done and the amount of work that was recorded because most of this work was being done manually.
It took some time to process all of that data, but we realized that we could create a solution to help them move faster and save thousands of dollars every year. That's how Fieldproxy came to life. We started with just one or two customers, and now we've scaled to over 115 customers across the globe.
Can you introduce us to your platform? What are its key features?
Fieldproxy is, at its core, an Operating System for deskless workforces. Our web app helps managers keep track of their field agents in real-time. The web app provides managers with information about their field agents' activities, performance, and location.
The Fieldproxy mobile app allows field agents to input data that is then reflected on the web app's dashboards. This data is presented in easy-to-read dashboards that are updated in real-time by the field agents themselves and shows managers a complete picture of what's going on in the field at all times.
What are the most common issues organizations nowadays when managing their field teams?
90% of field teams are currently manually completing a majority of their tasks, which includes notifying their manager that the task has been completed and requesting another task. This process is often done through messaging apps. Having one central location for all these tasks would be the core solution that field teams are looking for that can save them time, and effort as well as a lot of what do you say unnecessary cost.
How did you think the recent global events have affected the way people perceive work?
Field sales have taken a big hit for sure, and as things are getting slowly shifting toward the new normal, people are starting to understand that field sales is what is putting the human element into the entire sales process.
I think the pandemic has sort of reinforced the fact that people want to know that the person who is selling them the services is not just some person sitting across a random desk from one part of the world. It's a human trying to communicate and sell them services that will be beneficial to them. So people want that human connection.
I believe we’re going to see a lot more of that going forward. With regard to technology, that is a whole other matter. Because as more and more people come to realize that technology is the edge between killing companies and taking companies to new heights, we need to realize that not just adopting tech, but helping your customers excel at it will be critical. Technology will be the added advantage between companies that are going to just drown in “the new normal” and the companies that will soar through it.
Recently, maintaining creativity and productivity has been a serious struggle for some organizations. How can companies foster creativity and innovation when the majority of employees are working remotely?
As we answered in the previous question, technology will be the deciding factor in how employees and employers get along in an organization. This does not just apply to field sales, but also to people working across the globe.
We've seen this recent shift happen where people aren't just focusing on bringing employees to work with them in the office, but are considering employing people across the globe, which has both financial benefits as well as access to a much greater talent pool. Now how to manage this remote workforce will be a key focus for organizations, and although remote collaboration tools are there to save the day, there’s only so much you can do with them.
What we like to do at Fieldproxy is have regular team bonding exercises, hybrid working options for people who miss that personal communication, and a host of other plans that we surprise our employees with almost every month. It’s an exciting shift working in the new normal, but we’re creatures that adapt. This is just another bump in the road.
What are the most common issues organizations run into on their digital transformation journey?
The major obstacle that companies will come into when they're going from manual to digital will be the shift in mindset. At first glance, it may not look like they are doing anything more than just what they used to write in their paperwork.
Now they're just filling out forms on an app. But over time, when you calculate the hourly rates at which these transactions are happening, you realize that there are maybe two to three times more cost savings than if these would have been carried out these processes manually. That is just one of the benefits.
The hardest part for companies when they begin this digital transformation journey will be changing their way of thinking. It may not look like it at first, but eventually, you'll see that there are more cost savings per hour when things are done digitally. The thing to remember is that with technology, you can do more in less time – and that's always a good thing for business
In your opinion, what cybersecurity measures are essential for companies with teams based all over the world?
Data is the most important thing to consider when you're asking about cybersecurity. That means having a hierarchy of access to critical information and making sure that only people who need that information have access to it.
It's easy for someone to lose a file when they're working remotely, and that means that your data is more vulnerable to being breached. You're not working in a closed environment where security is tight, so you have to be extra careful about who has access to your data.
What do you think the average workplace is going to look like in the next few years?
Over the next few years, we will likely see a reduction in the number of in-office spaces as more people move towards remote work. This is because many employers are promoting it and employees are accepting it because it provides more freedom and control.
For example, you get to choose when and where you want to work. However, the impact that this will have on field sales is not expected to change much. Therefore, this area will still be your responsibility.
Would you like to share what's next for fieldproxy?
Fieldproxy is looking to expand its market by partnering with organizations across the globe. We strongly believe that field sales is a game-changing sector of the sales industry that is often overlooked. Our ultimate goal is to reach out to as many organizations as possible so that we can offer our services and change the sales landscape for good!