Wood Fruitticher

Building a more effective field salesforce

As the relationship between food and technology continues to grow, foodservice distributors remain hungry for solutions to give them a competitive edge. Wood Fruitticher, a fourth-generation wholesale food distributor based in Birmingham, Ala., recently found that edge.

To make its field salespeople more productive, the company developed a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. The app, which they named SalesPal, aggregates information and provides real-time updates across iOS devices to managers and sales people in the field.

Wood Fruitticher — established in Birmingham, Ala., in 1913

Previously, information and communications were fragmented. The 103-year-old company relied on an order management system that included channels like phone, voicemail, paper notes, PDF files, and spreadsheets. Although efficient in the early days, the cumbersome system no longer served the company’s 80 salespeople, who offer more than 8,000 products to customers in a territory spanning seven states.

Using the old system, salespeople occasionally missed orders and struggled to schedule deliveries efficiently. Once in the field, reps couldn’t see real-time details about customer sales and profits, nor could they access information about customer prospects to capitalize on new sales opportunities.

Smarter field sales

Wood Fruitticher’s new system consolidates information and provides immediate visibility to orders, deliveries, and sales performance. With SalesPal’s clean, user-friendly format, managers can dynamically monitor each salesperson’s performance and customer accounts. They can also view granular details of year-to-date sales, profit, and commissions and compare the details to the previous year. With the old system, those numbers were only available as static PDF reports delivered weekly.

Managers can select a salesperson in a specific district and see orders, routes, sales numbers, customer lists, and other details — a big help in maximizing sales and minimizing inefficient delivery systems.

“I never could have dreamed we could create a sophisticated app in-house within such a short time frame,” said Martin Clapp, a Director at Wood Fruitticher. “I picked up FileMaker from scratch and developed two versions of SalesPal quickly. It’s not a pat on my back, but instead a testament to FileMaker.”

One particularly compelling feature of the new app is the Missing Orders section. Salespeople rely on it to ensure all customer orders are placed and confirmed before the day’s cutoff time.

“We have a lot to juggle throughout the day, and it can be easy to forget an order if you’re not careful,” says Emil Anthony, one of Wood Fruitticher’s leading Salespeople. “SalesPal and FileMaker help me keep it all in line and keep my customers satisfied.”

In addition to streamlined order management, SalesPal also offers salespeople the option to edit orders within the app, instead of calling back to the home office. Multiple company forms such as item requests, collection reports, and others no longer require an emailed spreadsheet or logging into a dedicated web portal. These forms are now available in the app across iPhone and iPad devices, increasing the speed and accuracy of submission and reducing confusion about where to locate forms or how to submit them.

SalesPal app built by Martin Clapp from Wood Fruitticher

“Based on responses from our salespeople, the capabilities within SalesPal are saving them enormous amounts of time and thereby increasing their opportunities to make sales calls and tend to customers,” says Clapp. “SalesPal has increased morale and boosted our image. Field salespeople can now present themselves as being modern and sophisticated in an industry that, until now, has never been sleek or flashy.”

A leg up on learning

Because adoption of new technology can feel daunting, Wood Fruitticher makes it easy for their employees. Users download FileMaker Go to their preferred iOS device, receive a user name and password, and begin using SalesPal immediately. If they have questions or need assistance, they can watch short video tutorials directly within the app. Video instruction has increased users’ willingness to seek help within the app before calling the help desk.

Martin Clapp using SalesPal

Satisfied customers

SalesPal also boosts customer satisfaction. Since real-time fulfillment status is now available in SalesPal, there is virtually no reason to make a phone call to Purchasing, saving time for Purchasing and Sales. In the rare event that a product on an order will not be filled, the customer’s contact information is instantly available so their salesperson can alert them and quickly remedy the problem.

“People don’t always see what’s going on in the background,” said Clapp. “Custom apps allow businesses like ours to do things better and focus on what matters.”

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