Friday, February 6, 2015

Believer, Skeptic or Psychoplanner, Part 3

Part III: Key Topics to get the Planning Juices Flowing

Joint Planning with Key Supply Partners
Not all vendors are created equally. Some have the power to cause our business to accelerate; others don’t. We have proof that companies who plan with their supply partners grow faster than their competition. Lots of companies go through the motions of planning with their partners. If you would like to hear of our proof, give me a call.

Major Marketing Activities
These can be marketing activities, plans for customer presentations, open houses, trade shows and other such events. Often we observe distributors rushing into events they have known about for a very long time – just because they lacked planning.

Major Technology Initiatives
What major initiatives can fundamentally change the way you do business? Here we are referring to things like CRM System implementation, implementing pricing tools, rolling out a new software system or warehouse bar-coding projects.

Product Launches
Far too many times, distributors in our industry launch new products and nothing happens. Based on observations and reports from the field, very little planning is applied to the process. Before you launch a new product ask yourself a few questions about the plan. Do we have the stock on hand to support the initiative? Is literature in place? How many times have you allowed a supply partner to do the training only to realize the support materials were lacking?

Targets – accounts, products and line expansions
Research indicates companies who establish formal targeting processes are 47% more effective in reaching their sales and financial goals than organizations who leave targeting to their sales team (without a process). Do your targets have timelines, individual responsibilities, opportunities for review and measures of success?

Inventory Management
Seasonal shifts in demand, changes in technologies and
obsolescence of existing products sometimes requires more than just a single person’s input. Without a plan in place, less than ideal consequences arise. A process for measuring and monitoring the ever changing conditions around the Industrial Distribution must be incorporated into the inventory management to achieve maximum results.

Now a final word for our psychoplanner friends
You have read through this article. Little voices are going off in the back of your mind. One voice says, “I’m a planner. This is a bunch of hot air. Plans don’t need all these things to work.” But you feel a little discomfort because you remember times things didn’t work out like you imagined they could. The other voice is saying, “If I would have had reviews, I could have avoided a costly mistake.” Or they're saying, “The inside sales group just didn’t execute on the plan. Maybe I should have assigned Deborah to make sure things got done.”

No plan is a perfect plan. 
Following the best practices of other Industrial Distributors tips the scale in favor of accomplishing top notch results. What would happen if you started looking back to the best practice list on a regular basis? My guess is you would soon find yourself enjoying at least one of my old distributor friend’s plans. And you too could plan for a nice summer vacation.

If you are planning to improve your own planning process, shoot me an email. I have a list of other areas where planning can impact your business.  

Of course, you're also still welcome to check out my planning book on Amazon.

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