Marketing activity involves a hierarchy. The top management takes important decisions and formulates goals and objectives to be realized by means of effective marketing. The second-level employees are the managers, primarily responsible for devising plans and strategies thereafter allocating work to the subordinate staff.
These subordinate employees are mainly the field workers who enjoy direct interface with the target audience of the brand or product. Of all the ground-level marketing professionals, salesmen have a special role in bridging the brand-consumer gap. They are the ones who practice door-to-door traveling, talk with the customers about a product, describe product features, ask relevant questions and while answering consumer’s queries and doubts, give demonstrations if necessary and take feedback from the end-users.
In worst circumstances, when users are not satisfied with the product performance, these salesmen face the brunt. Thus, salesmen are the grass-root level workers having a real understanding of product acceptability, its performance and the corresponding consumer behavior towards the particular commodity.
Given this scenario, the utmost responsibility of every organization is to map the performance of these salesmen and monitor their work areas in a time-bound manner. An activity report is a summarised account of every salesman that reflects the overall activities conducted during a given period of time.
The report contains all essential details like the initial sales target, percentage of achieved sales target, number of customers visited, new customers acquired, number of demonstrations given, feedback statements of customers and other work details along with the corresponding date of such activities.
Through this report, marketing managers get clarity on the level of commitment; dedication and professionalism of the salesmen. Above all, it gives an idea about the potential competency of a salesman to convince a customer and sell a product. This, in turn, helps the salesmen to receive the relevant training, mentoring and guidance to improve quality and maintain consistency at work.
Usually, activity reports are filled in by the salesmen and they submit to their immediate superior, who in turn examines the report and forwards the relevant findings to the next level in the hierarchy. In this way, top management gets a fair understanding of the real scenario and devises their further plans accordingly. Based on further plans, marketing managers or mid-level executives devise their plan-of-action and once again designates appropriate tasks to the salesmen. The cycle continues in this manner until the net objective of the organization is achieved.
Role of Activity Report
Besides serving as a record of a salesman’s activities, an activity report also helps in:
1) Understanding Product Acceptability in Market
The best possible means to understand if a product will be accepted by its potential targets is to pay customer visit and attempt to explain the product features and bring out its significance and benefits. The work, mostly done by the salesmen, gives an understanding of the real-life market situation.
It tells the managers and the management head if at all the market is ready to accept the product. In most cases, salesmen are turned down by the households. In some other occasions, customers do come out and give a patient hearing to the starting state of the salesmen. A very few instances also happen where customers willingly ask for the product price and gladly accept the sample product giving a hope of becoming a customer.
When salesmen perform their activities, they write all such details in the report. Managers tally the percentage of customers who expressed their desire for the product and to what extent was the desire. For example, did the person just ask about price and closed the door? Or is it someone who genuinely came and has a long discussion with the salesmen? Such responses are counted for final evaluation.
2) Analysing Consumer Mind
The kind of responses generated from the market throws light on the prevailing consumer mind. It tells the marketing heads if these are the customers who shall buy the product or in order to sell them the commodity, it has to be slightly modified. It also informs them if at all customer has a need which can be satisfied by the product.
The kind of interactions between the salesman and the customers further takes the managers to the likes, dislikes, and preferences of the target group. Thus, with the help of the activity report, marketers draw firm conclusions on the psychographic and behavioral patterns of consumers- a key finding for successful marketing of products and services.
3) Tracking New Consumers
The report also reveals the number of new customers acquired by a salesman. It shows the details of product demonstration (first post-purchase customer visit) and corresponding remarks of the customer about the quality of the product and demonstration by the sales staff.
Most importantly, an organization gets to know the conversion rate, i.e. the number of new customers over a specific time period, for example, 6 new customers in the last 6months or 1year and so on. With this, the company can track its expansion over the years and plan to increase the numbers in the near future.
4) Getting insights on New Demands of Consumers
New demands of existing or potential customers may be unknown to the company. Such things only come to light when salespeople have direct interaction with the end-users. Thus, whether for first time post-purchase visit or a visit to turn potentials into targets, such newer insights get reflected. People ask for new things or some new features which can make an entirely new commodity. Such consumer queries form a path to develop something new and extraordinary for the ordinary mass.
5) Generating Feedback from Existing Consumers
Acquiring new customers is definitely important but getting feedback and retaining them that too for a long-term is of paramount significance. Feedbacks serve as a source of reading the consumer mind in reality. Such comments and remarks bring the consumer closer to their brands; thus giving them the required attention. Besides these, feedbacks reflect a customer’s present perception of the product and the brand, which in turn depends on to what extent the person will recommend the product to its peers.