Business Today

Eagle Eye

twitter-logo Taslima Khan        Print Edition: Feb 3, 2013

BUSINESS: Indirect sales force management
FOUNDED IN: September 2010
LED BY: Sachin Chhabra
COOL QUOTIENT: Enables brands to track thousands of indirect salesmen engaged in last-mile sales

Till he set up peel-works, Sachin Chhabra, 39, had spent his entire career - from 1996 to 2010 - with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant Hindustan Unilever. That period saw a huge surge in the indirect sales force of FMCG companies.

Expertise levels required of sales staff also rose. Other industries, such as financial services, business process outsourcing and telecom, similarly employ thousands of people on the ground indirectly, and also need them to function effectively.

Sales are the outcome of competent sales staff spending an optimal amount of time with the consumer. "For a large company like Hindustan Unilever, which indirectly deals with over 6,000 salesmen, every single salesman is responsible for over Rs 1 crore of sales annually," says Chhabra. "Ninety per cent of these are employed, not by the company itself, but by its distributors, many of whom don't even bother to mark the attendance of the salespersons reporting to them."

Chhabra's firm, peel-works (it spells its name without capital letters), enables companies to keep tabs on people who close the sales cycle to check whether they are performing optimally. The start-up's cloud-based solution, called 9Yards, gives companies analytics data on nine parameters to measure the performance of sales staff.

This includes information about how much time sales people spend on the ground, how many distributors or salespersons are required in each given area, the top performers and the underperformers, how much they are paid by the distributor, and so forth. Much of this information comes from the distributors and staffing companies.

"That is rich predictive analytics for companies, enabling them to take the necessary steps required to boost their sales outcomes," says Sandeep Lakhina, Co-founder, peel-works, and former chief operating officer at Starcom MediaVest Group.

"Most large companies are not doing enough in terms of hiring and managing of their sales force," says Srikant Sastri, a member of the Indian Angel Network who along with others invested a total of Rs 3.25 crore in peelworks in November 2011. "More and more organisations are realising this. That is why peel-works's offering is compelling and scalable."

Chhabra's first client was his old employer Hindustan Unilever. Other big clients followed, including Tata Sky and Lakme Salon, all of which pay peel-works based on the number of sales staff managed by their distributors.

The start-up has a team of 35, and expects revenues of Rs 4 crore by March 2013. It is eyeing 15 to 20 large clients by the end of 2013, and is also working on a new version of its cloud-based product targeted at small and mediumsized companies.

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