Data-Driven Sales Strategy: Using Technology to Sell Smarter
This blog post was written by Bryan Wilton at LBMC Technology Solutions. To learn more about their business software solutions, visit https://www.lbmctech.com/?
Following the paper trail
It has not been that long since distribution centers used lots of paper documents to manage ordering, fulfillment, and shipping of products to customers. And of course, customer returns needed to have yet another document of their own. Some might even remember having different color paper to print certain types of documents such as white for the original order, pink might have been the picking ticket and yellow or green became the packing slip and so forth — lots of paper floating around a distribution business to get a single order out the door. I remember being at a client site and seeing customer service people running around the office looking for the “yellow” for a certain order number. Most of the time they found their document, however it always seemed to take a long time when the customer was waiting on the phone or worse yet, that much-needed document just could not be found.
By today’s standards, it is hard to imagine thousands of distributors worked this way for many decades or more, but that’s just how things were done. For the past 20 years much has changed with technology now being used to chase down that much-needed document or at least the data contained on the document, but now in electronic form. Having up to the minute data available to customer service representatives, order entry folks, warehouse workers, inventory managers and executives has allowed much better and faster insights into the operations of a distribution business. Now when a customer reaches out to inquire of the status of their order, it is usually just a few seconds and not hours before a response is available. In fact, in more sophisticated systems, customers can perform most all their needed inquiries through their own self-service portal and rarely need to contact their supplier for standard questions about shipping information, general order status or even creating a return, making a payment and so forth, which are are all typical tasks generally accomplished in just a few minutes today.
Putting your data to work
Modern distributors need to leverage their collected data to accomplish most daily tasks, especially users who need to know where an order sits in the warehouse or a delivery truck, as well as whether a product is backordered and when it can be expected to arrive. Up-to-the-minute stock levels and the elimination of bottlenecks in the warehouse are critical data elements managers need to run a smooth operation and remain competitive in their markets. Today, artificial intelligence scenarios are being used to predict stock levels based on buyer behavior, and can even see how weather in the location where your product is being shipped from will affect your ability to meet customer demand three weeks from today. These scenarios can also be used to predict customer behavior, forecasting to determine which customers will buy which products and when. Distributors are using these predictive analytics tools to run lean and efficient operations.
Saving time with automation
The benefits of leveraging newer technology during the selling process doesn’t end there. Automation allowing up to the minute information about the entire business, your customers, your suppliers, and your team is commonplace today and distributors who remain more old school and rely on sticky notes, manual forms and processes, where customer service reps walk around with critical information in their heads is a challenging sign that the organization will be unable to remain competitive going forward.
If you’re distribution business struggles with collecting or interpreting data to make important business decisions, many times on the fly, look at the tools available to you today and use the technology to satisfy your customers beyond their expectations.