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Looking to Improve Sales and Customer Service? 3 Key Questions to Pinpoint Your Most Immediate Needs

by Rebecca Newell | SAPinsider

April 1, 2010

You’ve set your revenue and profitability targets — but now how do you realize them? Get started with three CRM-related questions your company should ask itself, plus three targeted solutions to provide quick wins in each area.

“We’re determined to increase revenue and improve profitability, but we don’t know how to make it happen.” It’s a common dilemma — setting this goal but not knowing how to achieve it. A sure-fire way to realize your revenue and profitability targets is to focus on your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy, particularly your sales and service efforts. To help you get started, I’ll offer three CRM-related questions for your organization to consider, and three corresponding SAP solution extensions that provide quick wins in each area. Whether you tackle one or all of these strategic CRM questions, your company is bound to boost revenue and market share as a result.

Is Your Chargeback Management Process Manual or Automated?

How your company manages its chargeback process can make the difference between a positive and a negative operating income. Many companies attempt to manage chargebacks using outdated legacy applications or basic, manual tools like spreadsheets, emails, or faxes. But these methods often lead to processing delays and errors, missed opportunities to file claims, and lengthy claim disputes mp;mdash; especially given the high volume of refunds that some firms process. The consequences to the bottom line? Higher costs, impaired cash flow, and lower profitability.

Instead of relying on outdated methods, you need an efficient, highly automated tool for managing the entire chargeback life cycle, from creation to settlement. With an integrated enterprise solution for chargeback management, you could accurately file all of your chargeback claims in a timely fashion. You can eliminate drawn-out dispute cycles, collect payments promptly, and redeploy staff members who have been bogged down in manual processes into positions that add value to your company.

Automate with SAP Paybacks and Chargebacks

The SAP Paybacks and Chargebacks application by Vistex helps you automate chargeback processes, minimize errors, validate claims, reduce disputes, and lower labor costs. With this solution extension, you can manage the complete chargeback process life cycle — from claim initiation and receipt through adjudication, accrual, settlement, and post-settlement adjustment — and expect many improvements as a result (see sidebar).

The application can also help distributors recoup lost revenue from manufacturers. For example, a manufacturer may offer its customers special pricing promotions to gain a competitive edge, but then a distributor would face having to sell products for a lower price than what it actually paid. Having a streamlined chargeback process in place enables the distributor to recover the difference between acquisition cost and the customer sales price.

Do Your Incentive and Commission Programs Align with Your Business Goals?

You’ve reviewed your quarterly sales figures, and they’re on a steady decline. You have a strong, motivated sales force, but their numbers aren’t reflecting their potential. And you’re noticing that sales reps are spending too much time on low-value accounts, neglecting your best and highest-potential customers. It may be time to revamp your incentive program.

If you could effectively align sales resources, for example, you could optimize coverage of your most strategic accounts. And imagine the productivity improvements you’d experience if your sales reps could track their own performance and measure their potential compensation for opportunities in the pipeline, while sales managers could develop, implement, and oversee compensation plans to retain top performers and motivate them to succeed.

Get Motivated with SAP Incentive Administration

The SAP Incentive Administration application by Vistex supports a variety of incentive agreements and programs — from the simplest to the most complex — and integrates seamlessly into your SAP software environment to provide robust administration, analysis, and reporting capabilities. IT can configure the screens to display data as desired; for example, users can see only data relevant to their titles or roles (see Figure 1).

This solution extension enables you to efficiently manage commissions and other motivational programs so you can align your business processes with your business objectives. You can set sales targets and quotas, as well as monitor actual results against your budget. Different incentive plans, once set up, can be maintained outside of IT, allowing the plan administrator to control them. Plus, you can tie the incentive plans to HR/payroll for ease of payment.

Figure 1 Users can track and view their progress with SAP Incentive Administration

Do Your Field Technicians Spend More Time Helping Customers or Searching for Parts?

Many companies report that having effective customer service processes in place is key to differentiating themselves from competitors and retaining customers. To deliver quality customer service, you may need to have technicians in the field, but because their time is expensive, it’s critical to maximize their time spent actively working on customer problems rather than driving from place to place, searching for parts, or doing other non-billable tasks.

Optimizing field service operations isn’t easy. Your company must schedule and dispatch technicians to different locations every day — and maintain their efficiency all day long, despite inevitable delays, emergencies, and cancellations. You also need to master and integrate a daunting number of service-related processes and maintain an overall perspective on service drivers, inputs, and issues, with vital information located in disparate applications.

By running efficient field service operations, you can ensure that customers experience positive interactions with your field technicians, helping boost customer loyalty.

Deliver Better Service with SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization

The SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization application by ClickSoftware can help your company build a streamlined, efficient, and profitable field service or enterprise asset management operation. You can adapt the application to any industry, region, company size, or level of technology sophistication to help with forecasting, planning, execution, and analysis. This solution extension enables intelligent decision making across your organization, eliminating guesswork and inefficiency in service delivery during several service-related processes, like capacity planning.

3 Key Questions, 3 Targeted Solutions

By considering these critical questions, you can determine which CRM-related area — improving your chargeback process, realigning your incentive and commission programs, or optimizing the efficiency of your field service operations — will be most effective in helping you reach your revenue and profitability goals. And by implementing the corresponding solution extensions from SAP, you can ensure quick time-to-value and high ROI.

For more information, please visit

Rebecca Newell ( has held executive-level marketing and business management positions for more than 20 years. Rebecca began her career in the world of technology at Intel, then continued on to Novell and 3Com before joining SAP. At SAP, she has developed comprehensive go-to-market strategies to drive success for the solution extension applications portfolio worldwide.

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