National Tobacco Company Undergoes Sales Force Evolution

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National Tobacco Company Undergoes Sales Force Evolution

By Alliston Ackerman - 05/09/2012
National Tobacco Company (NTC) has doubled its business over the last five years, a feat that it strongly attributes to a long-standing partnership with its sales force automation provider, RW3.

With 300 employees, NTC manufactures, imports, markets and sells tobacco products and accessories under brand names like Beech-Nut, Stoker’s and Zig-Zag to the United States and select international markets.

Initially implemented in the fourth quarter of 2007, RW3 InStore was intended to address several issues with NTC’s previous system, like the need to manually record orders. The initial system implementation was the result of careful planning between NTC and RW3. The goal was to design a system that increased efficiency and provided actionable feedback.

Since roll out, the two companies have continued to collaborate to address new challenges on a regular basis. The system was upgraded to include automated promotion booking in 2009 and a messaging process to improve productivity in 2010. The current technology, upgraded last year, reduces touch points for activities, like entering new sales outlets, capturing distribution, coverage for new product introductions and other metrics.

“The solution has evolved as the company evolved,” says John Schaller, trade marketing manager, NTC. “As we added several products over the years, we needed to provide more information to both our sales force and our management teams. The RW3 solution gives NTC a platform to drive sales execution and provide analytics on performance.”

Primary benefits of the system today include:
  • Line review process
  • Scalability
  • Review of sales during promotional activities
  • Rapid roll out of new products
  • Quick response to changing market conditions

“The most important benefit is that RW3 is not just a sales force automation application,” says Graham Purdy, vice president of Sales, NTC. “They think about the challenges we face in the marketplace and not just the technology to be installed.”

For example, just a few years ago, NTC lacked focus on convenience stores, which sell about 70 percent of all tobacco products in the country. As a result, it could only get its products into 15,000 stores. Now, NTC sells its products through 50,000 stores because RW3 is delivering information that’s actionable at the store level.

Next, NTC plans to evolve the system further to integrate store level data to deliver insight into category activity. “That, combined with the RW3 platform, will help us grow the customer’s business,” says Purdy.


Great Growth
National Tobacco Company grew Stoker’s Chewing Tobacco share from 9 percent in October 2007 to 16.6 percent in August 2011, a record share for this brand, in part due to a new sales force automation system.

A Sales Force in Need
As business grew, NTC needed more flexible reporting and improved ease of access for both field reps and the headquarters team. This included eliminating orders as well as storing sales, wholesaler and order data in the same system.

Continuous Improvement
Business users remain involved in providing crucial feedback and suggestions for improving NTC’s sales force automation application. A user group meets periodically to address specific questions and ideas. Senior management, which  was closely involved in the initial design period, continues to weigh in on subsequent system enhancements and report designs.