McCain off pack  HR Logo.jpg

McCain Foods - Case Study

Streamlining sales rep activity for the McCain field team

Juggling established brands and new product launches, managing promotional deals and orchestrating up to 25 site visits a week – the role of a McCain sales rep is anything but simple.

McCain Stirfry Supreme 1kg.jpg

McCain is one of New Zealand’s best-known frozen-food brands, with a wide range of family favourites in supermarkets nationwide. Their in-house sales team is tasked with visiting supermarkets and making win-win deals for the retailer and McCain. Orders, relays, product positioning, displays, NPD, claims and strategising with buyers – the reps are always on the move, talking to multiple clients a day, and often making significant deals on the spot.

With the sales function previously outsourced, McCain knew that by reinstating the team they’d need a new way to manage their grocery field team – a whole new set of processes with new scheduling, information flows, and initiatives. According to Sarah Brown, McCain Foods NZ Retail Sales Manager, that’s where Sales IM has been instrumental in making this a successful change.

Using the system as a one-stop-shop for field information and the wide variety of field processes, the McCain team now has instant access to the data they need, making it easier to negotiate deals with clients and manage their admin workload. For the head office team, managing sales reps and their visit plans is now much easier as well – they can task reps with surveys and in store activities, collate field intelligence and track and report their day-to-day work all within Sales IM.

Changing needs in a growing company

In the 30 years since McCain started selling in New Zealand, the company has undergone a number of changes – as most businesses do. Five years ago they outsourced the sales team during a major restructure and eventually brought them back inside the organisation.

Family - BBQ Meatlovers.jpg

It was about focus – management felt that they could work more closely with an in-house team and drive sales forward. Following excellent and steady growth in their business, it also became the more cost-effective solution.

But making the most of the in-house reps meant giving them the tools they needed to work efficiently. The systems sales reps had used in other roles didn’t give them or management the features they needed. Sales reps used a combination of a CRM system and spreadsheets, which meant a lot of switching back and forth, and a lot of double handling of data.

For management, an ineffective system made it harder to oversee the sales team’s work and compiling reports of monthly activity and promotions was time-consuming.

Sarah knew they needed something more sophisticated. McCain’s IT department was initially pushing for an existing CRM system, but as Sarah explains, it simply couldn’t deliver the functionality the team needed:

“When we benchmarked what we needed for retail against what that system delivered, we knew we needed something that was more sophisticated. Lining up needs against what it delivered on a spreadsheet, there was a lot of red!

“We also needed co-op reporting, time in trade, visibility of promo programmes, processing invoices – so, everything really.”

The right tool for sales success

After showing them what Sales IM could do, Sarah says, “The IT team bought into it and could see that it was really going to benefit the business.”

The new system has CRM, but offers much more than that. Because it was designed for the Grocery industry it handles McCain’s specific requirements with ease. Everything sales reps need – from accurate data to invoicing tools – is accessible in one place, saving time and eliminating mix-ups.

Sarah explains: “It makes things more time efficient – there’s no digging back through emails or chasing up claims. We create 660 invoices a month. We can see the invoice, generate it, send it off for processing, see that it’s been paid, and report back to the store, all without touching paper.”

In a job that’s increasingly demanding and complex, having access to the right tools is essential. Reps have noticed that in store buyers are becoming stricter and more demanding about the information they need to make a decision – it’s no longer enough for reps to make an estimate of results. Sales IM is helping McCain respond to this new challenge.

Territory Manager Hayden Stephenson explains: “In the industry itself, admin has just skyrocketed, and it’s causing issues. With this tool it’s been quite good timing to help us deal with that. It takes away the admin. I can process an invoice without touching paper. It’s all electronic. When you’re in store talking about claims, it’s right there and I can give them an answer.”

Easy to use with minimal training

Because the team at McCain includes reps at all levels of technical ability, ease of use was also important. After a three-month ‘bedding down’ period where Sales IM was implemented and reps were trained to use it, they have found the system simple and straightforward.

“In IM you can do nearly 100% of your job. I find it very simple to use. Even other reps who aren’t tech savvy can use it. It’s not a hard system. Once you show them, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s user-friendly for any level,” says Hayden.

Helping make McCain field sales teams even more professional

Standard practice in the industry is to have Key Account promotional plans recorded by the NAMs/KAMs in Excel spreadsheets ­ these are then periodically sent to the field teams. AT McCain, these plans are no longer sent out; instead a single point of change results in any update quickly appearing on all the reps iPads – the reps benefit by having the latest information always at their fingertips and are confident in its accuracy.

Sales IM, as a repository of all store-level commitments and activity, is a tremendous help when on-boarding new staff at McCain. Anyone can pick it up and tap into a Store for the latest status – they are immediately on the ball, knowing objectives and agreements.

At McCain, key field sales management processes are run through Sales IM – objective setting, tracking of KPIs, price indexing, even the McCain rep’s weekly reports are done online in Sales IM. Call compliance and any associated photos are captured in store and Sales IM provides very rapid feedback to Head Office for quick follow up.

Integration, accessibility, improvement

McCain Baby Peas 1kg.jpg

Now that the McCain team has been using Sales IM for a while, they can see the difference it’s making in their day-to-day work. The time spent on admin has been reduced significantly, giving reps more time to talk sales with clients. Because data doesn’t need to be entered and re-entered, there are fewer errors – and less time spent correcting them.

Previously, keeping track of invoices and upcoming payments was immensely time-consuming. Now, it’s simple – payment status is updated by the back-office account processes in Australia, so is always up to date in Sales IM ­– reps can check on a previous invoice with confidence during a client discussion.

Sales IM tracks co-op/display $s against a territory budget, allowing field sales managers to monitor commitments made at the store-level by their teams. Sales reps can see any banner promotions affecting their stores and compare them to concurrent marketing, other promotions, and sales at other times of the year – this ability is a huge benefit in negotiations.

Hayden Stephenson puts it like this: “Reducing the errors and question marks in the admin side of things has been a win. The less time you’re talking about admin with a customer, the faster you can move on to selling.”

Better for reps, better for business

Sales IM has proven itself to the sales team, simplifying their jobs and reducing the time they spend on administration. It’s helped speed up sales and given them confidence in their data.

“It just creates a sense of ease and increases time in store. It’s all about making things less complicated, and as easy as possible. That’s the win – the guys can just work a full day and go home,” says Sarah.

Sales IM’s powerful reporting functionality also means they’re making better, more accurate decisions. Sarah says: “It’s all real and it’s all live. The reporting is fantastic. We can see reports on core compliances and feedback, and it comes straight through to the right people who need to see it.

“It’s been very powerful, because it comes back to the management team in one package, rather than having multiple people involved, and lots of bits of paper.”


  • Reduced time spent on admin and data entry

  • Less double handling and fewer errors, paperless invoice processing

  • Accurate, up to date data

  • Quick, accurate reporting to management team

  • Easy to use by staff at any skill level

  • Being designed specifically for the special challenges in Grocery, it brings key information into the buyer’s office