Operating an organization can be a real challenge. But doing business in an environment with limited infrastructure and widespread poverty takes that challenge to a whole new level.
That’s the situation in West Africa, where PEGAfrica sells solar home systems on credit to off-grid villagers. And it’s why we wanted to make our business tools as user-friendly as possible.
AppSheet allowed us to do that.
PEGAfrica customers and prospects live in villages throughout Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. So our salespeople need to go door to door to sell our product.
In the past, PEGAfrica used WhatsApp to provide sales team members information about their territories and their customers’ repayment records. But they didn’t always get, or couldn’t find, the information they needed.
Getting the sales staff to share information about their customer and prospect visits was an even bigger mountain to climb.
We asked our sales people to send us information about their sales calls. But most of them had a hard time composing and sending emails, and phone calls were too much work.
It was clear we needed an easier way for people in the field, and our support and management staff in PEGAfrica offices, to log and share information.
We expressed that need to Bankable Frontier Associates. And BFA offered to build a sales app for our Ghana operations. BFA said it would use AppSheet to build that app.
I liked the idea of using a mobile app to support our sales effort. In fact, I was so excited about it that I spent the next weekend exploring AppSheet.
In that short time, I was able to create a simple sales app on my own. The experience was so easy I decided that BFA could help PEGAfrica develop the app internally.
PEGAfrica launched the Ghana sales app early this year. Today 81 direct sales reps in Ghana use it and 40 more will be added in the next 3 months.
The app provides salespeople with information about customer locations, prospects, and more. Salespeople can use the mobile app to get information about commissions. And they can see which of their customers are not paying their loans, so they can solve the problem before it affects their salaries.
The ability for our salespeople to get current lists of blocked customers has been especially helpful. Before we adopted AppSheet, salespeople would get frustrated when they lost money or weren’t allowed to sell because their customers weren’t paying, saying they didn’t know which customers had problems, so they couldn’t fix it.
The AppSheet app makes that information easy for salespeople to find. It also allows salespeople to easily input information about sales calls.
What’s great about bringing all this functionality into a mobile app is that we can learn what challenges our sales force has in using the app. Then we can iterate the app to address those challenges.
We also created a few apps related to that sales force app. We have a sales force manager app, which is available to 52 users. Nine users employ our area sales manager app. And we have four users on our country manager app.
These apps help us determine if our sales staff members have received their budgets, how much money they’re spending every day, how many prospects they’ve visited, how many sales they’ve made, where those sales are located geographically, and more. That helps PEGAfrica be more strategic in where we send our salespeople and how we use other resources.
We even build apps to create and manage customer accounts. And now we’re working to bring sales apps to our people in Cote d’Ivoire.
Our credit teams in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana are also using apps built on the AppSheet platform. The apps alert them when customers are due for a visit.
When credit team members collect money, they input the payment amount into the app and when the payment is received, everybody can see it in the backend. The app also shows credit team members how close they are to meeting their collection goals – and receiving commissions.
Using the app is so much easier than using WhatsApp Excel scorecards and sending the credit team SMS messages. That was very clunky.
Ease of Use
Creating apps with AppSheet was simple. Anybody can do it. In fact, we will have an intern building the next one.
I used to think only companies with big budgets could afford their own customized apps. But AppSheet made it possible for PEGAfrica. That’s pretty cool.
Nate Heller is Group COO of PEGAfrica.
PEGAfrica provides solar home systems on credit to households in West Africa. Using a unique financing approach, called ‘pay-as-you-go’ financing, PEGAfrica enable customers to replace their perpetual spending on poor-quality polluting fuels, such as kerosene, with solar energy that quickly becomes an asset the customer owns. To learn more about PEGAfrica's business model and the role "unbundling" plays in innovation in technology, read this blog.Post Comment
Nate Heller is Group COO of PEGAfrica, and Acting Country Director of PEG Cote d'Ivoire.