General Mills

General Mills’ sales force relies on Solvnet CRM to improve sales performance and have an all-in-one tool in the field.

Change your sales approach to gain in efficiency – General Mills’ experience

At the head of a portfolio of well-known food brands – Häagen-Dazs, Géant Vert, Nature Valley, Old El Paso – General Mills France recently reviewed the organization of its sales force and equipped it with new tools to enable sales representatives to work more efficiently. A look back at the genesis and success factors of this strategic project with William MARMIN, National Sales Director, and Pierre BERTIN, Manager of Sales Supports & Tools.General Mills CRM SOLVNET

Since December 2022, the sales force of General Mills France has been using Nomadia’s Solvnet CRM.

It is the practical implementation of an approach that is not limited to the deployment of a new tool. Can you go back to the origin and context of this project?

William Marmin– Following the split with Yoplait on the 1st of December 2021, a reorganization of the sales force was necessary. We began by working with Patrick Tellouck’s team on the creation of a new commercial organization by sector. This includes larger multi-category areas and higher visit frequency targets than before. Each sector manager now has a portfolio of stores in the hypermarket, supermarket and Drive channels.

However, when we looked at the way our salespeople were working, we found that time and efficiency were lost in every step of General Mills’ seven-step sales process: visit planning, preparation, verification, reprioritization, sales meetings, closing and resale. At each of these steps, the salespeople were losing time. For example, to prepare for a visit, they had to search for information in six different tools, including the CRM, which could take them more than an hour! For one appointment only! This was a big reason explaining why teams were not meeting the visit frequency goals we had set. The other observation concerned the hardware: the salespeople were working on PCs that did not meet all their needs, particularly in stores and during appointments, and which, moreover, had limitations that prevented them from considering new applications.

These findings led us to develop a new approach, the philosophy of which can be summed up in three words: simplification, efficiency, and time savings – not only for salespeople, but also for category managers and headquarters teams. It is on this basis that we conducted our reflection and sought not a tool, but a solution to serve this new commercial approach.

« To prepare for a visit, salespeople had to search for information in six different tools, including the CRM, which could take them more than an hour! For just one appointment! »

William MARMIN, Directeur national des ventes

What process led to the decision to change the CRM?

Pierre Bertin – It is precisely because the previous CRM, in place since 2016, did not cover all the needs that the tools had multiplied. In addition to the CRM, the working environment included: a database to share information, a platform for recording agreements, an application to take photos in store, and, for the analysis and management part, two BI reporting tools. In addition to wasting the salespeople’s time, the administration of this environment meant working with five or six companies each time a development was needed, with coordination problems that could result in application mismatches. After the split, the renewal of the sales management team and the formalization of the new organization, the conditions were right to re-launch the search for a solution that would meet all our needs and simplify the environment, while making us more autonomous.

What tipped the scales in favor of Nomadia and Solvnet ?

William Marmin — In view of the proposals, we had two options: start from scratch with a partner and build a complete, customized solution, with all that this implies in terms of investment and time; or, as Nomadia proposed, start with a CRM solution that already integrates the essential business logic and can be customized to our needs. This is the approach we chose, given that, in parallel to our search for simplification and efficiency, we had set ourselves a rather crazy challenge in terms of timing: to obtain in two months the internal validations that we had not obtained in four years!

In addition to its functional coverage, allowing us to eliminate several old tools, Solvnet was chosen because we absolutely wanted a SaaS solution that met the requirements of our IT department and those of the group in terms of cybersecurity. Starting from an existing database gave us the assurance of a rapid deployment covering the key stages of the sales process, without data synchronization problems, all with autonomy in the configuration and real possibilities for future developments. Nomadia’s ability to commit to deployment timelines and to support us in managing the change was also decisive.

Interview General Mills

Pierre Bertin – Nomadia also accompanied us on the change of equipment which is an integral part of the project. The Nomadia team was very helpful and made sure that we received the laptops we had chosen in record time in a period when there was a lot of tension in the IT hardware market.They are hybrid laptops [HP Elitebook 2-in-1], usable without a keyboard to work comfortably in-store and during appointments.

« We set ourselves a crazy challenge in terms of timing: to obtain in two months the internal validations that we had not obtained in four years! »

William MARMIN, Directeur national des ventes

How was the solution received by the teams?

William Marmin – It is important to understand that, apart from the organizational change, this project is the most structuring project that the DNV has seen in the last decade or so. We really changed everything: the tools, the equipment and, as a result, the approach in-store. This is a big step for the teams and required a serious commitment plan. Before the presentation to the entire sales force, we set up a pilot team of 7 sector managers and 1 research director who tested the new solution for three months. They were so satisfied that none of them wanted to go back, even temporarily! The official launch took place in December 2022 at our annual convention. The solution was presented by the pilot team members with such enthusiasm that by the end of the convention all the salespeople were eager to use it.

Pierre Bertin – We made the launch a real event. The teams thought it was great, and the fact that their new solution was being presented by colleagues, not by the vendor or management, was a key engagement factor. The training that took place afterwards, during the convention, was also very much appreciated and confirmed the first impressions, as well as the 14 video tutorials describing step by step the precise steps of the visit process. All of this has greatly facilitated team buy-in and adoption of the solution, including by the most senior of our sales staff who have benefited from specific support in the field from day one.

« The solution was presented by the pilot team members with such enthusiasm that by the end of the convention all the salespeople were eager to use it. »

William MARMIN, Directeur national des ventes

The deployment is still very recent. What is the feedback from the field after a few weeks of use?

Pierre Bertin – We have carried out a first satisfaction survey and the results are up to expectations, with, among other things, the following scores:

4,3/5 Overall satisfaction:
4.2/5 Training
4,1/5 Comfortable with the tool

Time saving

78% of respondents save time during their visit

Business management

Business management made easier for 100% of respondents

The rise in competence is remarkably fast. To reinforce this, we have maintained the pilots who remain in direct support of their colleagues until the end of February 2023. In parallel, a Whatsapp group has been set up to answer all technical questions from the head office and to forward to Nomadia those that have not been answered.

William Marmin – Everything is not yet perfect, of course. But the pilot team did a great job of bringing up the most problematic points before the launch. The most important result at this stage is that 100% of the salespeople recognize that their business is made easier. That is the best KPI! That means that fleet coverage targets can be met, as well as sales targets

« The most important result at this stage is that 100% of the sales staff recognize that their business is facilitated. That is the best KPI! »

William MARMIN, Directeur national des ventes

What are the next steps?

William Marmin – It is not an end in itself to have Solvnet! It is the foundation on which we can build and plan future applications, in a continuous improvement process. The short-term priority is to finalize the agreement section, which is not yet in production, and to enrich the home page by integrating new information. The work on the “assortment” module will be one of the big projects for the coming months. Solvnet has been presented to the category managers and we are considering with them how the solution could help them better manage promotions.

Pierre Bertin – There is no shortage of projects. Our new equipment now allows us to also have photo and video. We are thinking about integrating artificial intelligence into the surveys to take the efficiency even further. Finally, we are interested in Nomadia’s route optimization module [which is now integrated into Solvnet]. In particular, it allows you to take into account the business priorities of the moment and to create intelligent circuits by taking into account the appointments already scheduled. This will mean fewer miles for salespeople, so less risk, less stress and less CO2 — which is in line with the responsible driving program we have launched and the group’s CSR commitments.