What does 'winning the sale' really mean?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Recently, I was in the middle of a conversation with a business owner who has been achieving some admirable sales growth lately. He was bragging on his sales director, who, he said, had just “won a $250,000 order by $5,000.” When I asked him what he meant, he said that his sales director had put in a bid that was the lowest price but by “only” $5,000. I smiled and continued the conversation, but I was lost in thought. You see, l don’t consider being the lowest price as “winning” the sale. Here’s why. To me, as someone who has been involved in and passionate about the sales profession for nearly 30 years, sales is a persuasive activity. That’s what I love about it. There’s nothing better in business than facing off against another salesperson, mano a mano, with the prize bein  [Read More...]

Is It Time to Retire Your 'Homegrown' ERP System?

Monday, September 17, 2018
Here are some reasons companies should seriously consider it. Vulnerability and isolation of knowledge Using a homegrown solution can raise numerous challenges. For example, what happens if your IT director is no longer with the company? Or the programmers who developed the original application move on to other projects, other jobs, or retirement? You may be coding in yesterday’s technology, and will find it hard to replace resources who are familiar with and competent in those environments. Immediacy and breadth of data Even if you were to successfully reface your homegrown system to a modern graphical user interface and port to a relational database, you will still be technically challenged by the core foundation of a custom system’s millions of lines o  [Read More...]

Linking Metrics and Strategy

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Ideally, performance metrics should reflect a company’s strategic objectives. Yet, this may not always be the case. Executing a strategy is not as clean, neat or as easy as articulating that strategy. Another observation: almost every day managers must answer questions about performance. “We’re missing our targets for XYZ. What should we focus on to improve?” To solve performance problems, I typically suggest mapping the current processes, employing basic lean thinking principles and encouraging continuous improvement. Once a solution is implemented, we use metrics to benchmark the results and compare to prior performance (what I frequently describe as baseline measures). Metrics explain how effective our efforts are in achieving organizational goals  [Read More...]

Gaps in education

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Over my career, I have formed relationships with other second- and third-generation professionals in the distribution industry. I spent over half of my professional life as the second-generation heir apparent in my family business. Although I did not remain with that company, I received quite an education in what it feels like to be that next one up to bat. Additionally, I found that there were several gaps in my education that would have better prepared me for this responsibility. The more you can fill in these gaps, and follow a few best practices, the better chance you have for a successful transition. As many other family business people have experienced, I went to work in the warehouse at an early age. I often joke with audiences that my father broke a few child lab  [Read More...]

The Factory Sales Guy

Monday, July 23, 2018
I thought it might be appropriate to share a bit from a recent conversation with the head of channel sales for a major manufacturer serving our industry. Here is the question that started the conversation: I am continuing the journey of coaching some of our field salespeople on what a distributor salesperson wants from a factory salesperson. Do you have any references, articles or anything that might be pertinent? Try as I might, I could not find any reasonably sound advice for our kind of selling efforts. The few articles I did locate seemed to be one-sided in their tone. With this in mind, let’s take the next six minutes to explore the topic from both sides. While I was never allowed into the organization, I’ve heard the Boy Scout credo at leas  [Read More...]