Case study

Villa Crop Protection

When Villa Crop Protection was looking for a way to collate customer information and market intelligence, Skynamo delivered exactly what they needed.

When Villa Crop Protection’s sales team realised they needed to capture information across the team, collate and focus that information, build a history of our clients, and then extract market intelligence from that, they looked at Skynamo after one of their team members recommended it. A year later, they are delighted with the results.

“We really needed to keep a history of the information collected out on the field by our people,” says Voltan Senekal, Villa Crop Protection’s National Marketing Manager, “so that if somebody moves on, there’s a history, a database of our clients, which we didn’t have previously. That’s hugely beneficial for us – to start building a long-term picture of our clients and their needs.

“Secondly, from a management point of view, there was good information lying all over the place – on people’s phones, on their laptops, and you don’t have a view, an bird’s eye view of this information. We wanted to see how we could focus this.

“And then finally, the ‘so what’ comes up: what’s the market intelligence? And how do we act on this from a management point of view?”

Villa Crop Protection is a wholesaler of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides and other crop protection products that they sell to distributors – about 25 to 30 across South Africa, as well as cross-border transactions in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia. All of this is handled by a sales team of 15 people.

“What is important to us as managers, is that we didn’t get Skynamo to micromanage our people out in the field,” says Voltan. “That is not its primary job. It’s not to up people’s productivity or check where they’re going – it really was about market intelligence and acting on that.”

That was the initial pushback they received, however, as sales reps thought management would start micromanaging them. “But we made it very clear from the beginning that this was not the object of the exercise,” says Voltan. “So we first needed to go through the process so our reps would be comfortable, to show them the value of the information that they were capturing.

“That took about two months. The implementation was a bit difficult, just because it’s a new system, so we had to iron out the wrinkles, and everyone had to understand how to use the software. That being said, the uptake has gone very well.

“We always have a group who are early adopters and champions, and then there are other people that you really need to start pushing. But fortunately, we’ve got a good team. And peer pressure within, can often motivate people. Once we had shown them what the value was, the uptake was very positive.”

Voltan adds that the team they’re working with is more of a technical and marketing team rather than a pure sales team. Nevertheless, they find they are now able to have more productive conversations with their clients, which has definitely improved sentiment towards the company.

"“What is important to us as managers, is that we didn’t get Skynamo to micromanage our people out in the field, that is not its primary job. It’s not to up people’s productivity or check where they’re going – it really was about market intelligence and acting on that.”"

“We’ve got a very large product portfolio, and Skynamo helps us to really focus on our customers’ needs,” he says. “This is perhaps the important point here: to be able to focus on the needs of the client, rather than just pitching a whole catalogue of products that might not be always applicable. So we have been able to zoom in, microscope in on the client’s needs.”

He explains that the quality of their conversations has greatly improved. “Skynamo has helped to bring balance to the conversation and to our proposal to the client,” says Voltan. “We’ve got insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, adjuvants – there’s a whole range of stuff. Villa Crop Protection has loaded its entire catalogue onto Skynamo, but Voltan says the discussion begins at the portfolio level, and works down to individual products.

Reps start by establishing which portfolio of products a customer needs to solve their problems, and then moves on to individual products within those portfolios. “Now, with Skynamo, because of the way that we capture the information, it passively forces our people to go and have a conversation about all of the portfolios,” he says.

In addition, he says, Skynamo has improved both internal and external communication. “Externally, we can give much more focused communication out to our customers according to their needs, without neglecting to give a broader view,” he says.

“Internally, we have been able to co-ordinate communication across crops and seasons. So, let’s say we’re going into the corn planting season. All visits during the first month before planting would very much be internally focused on what the value proposition across the country is that we’re pushing out. It’s not fragmented and segmented across the country. And this helps with your marketing drive, because we do have certain objectives that we need to meet.”

Voltan adds that Skynamo is also a platform where company resources are collated for field sales reps for easy access. “This includes different price lists allocated to different clients, and different products that are exclusively allocated to them with the product label, spec sheets, trial data, etc. all in one place,” he says. “There’s no more drilling down into shared drives or needing to phone admin support to find stuff. Also inventory is on hand as well as policies, client notices, etc. And changes to those are instant – as soon as the user syncs every day. So they always have the most up-to-date info that they need on hand.

“We are busy extending Skynamo to capture field visits of product complaints, trial work done in the field, and other technical crop sampling that needs to be done.”

Finally, he says, using Skynamo hasn’t noticeably saved time on admin, but it has made them more productive. “As I mentioned before, there was a lot of information lying all over the place, but now that we’ve been able to capture it on the Skynamo platform, it’s much easier to access across the whole country. And then the filters that you can run on the Skynamo reports mean you can get much better quality feedback.

“So the quality of our calls has increased, because we can really start to know our customers now – that helps us to be a better provider and have a better, more personal interaction with our customers.”