Tag Archive: competition

The Power of WHY And Your Business

September 26th, 2019

I was always the inquisitive, and sometimes annoying, child in elementary school asking the teacher WHY as it pertained to certain math problems as I wanted to understand how and WHY that answer was correct or WHY my answer wasn’t. In most cases it was easy to understand and absorb but on at least 2 occasions my annoying questions of WHY uncovered mistakes in the grading book, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of my teacher. As I grew I applied the WHY to learning and competing in sports…WHY does that method produce better results than that method. So through my 40+ years of executive sales leadership and business ownership I’ve never lost site of how WHY can be used to succeed. So…let’s talk about how WHY may be the most powerful word you can apply to your business.

  • “WHY do customers buy and not buy our products or services?”
  • “WHY do we exist as a company?”
  • “WHY does our sales team continually miss their sales goals?”
  • “WHY did our competitor take away business from our top customer?”
  • “WHY do our employees like to work here?”

These and hundreds more can be the key to your success if you take the time to understand the power of the word WHY and how you can use it to identify business problems and uncover the solutions to those same problems.

Let’s take a quick look at the first question above: “WHY do customers buy our products or services?” Pretty simple and straight-forward, right? Well…in many cases it’s not that straight-forward and requires you to take a deep dive into every aspect of your business and not be afraid of what you might find. From your Business Value Proposition to understanding how each department impacts the Customer Experience, to how you manage warranty claims, to shipping orders on time, to how you handle delinquent accounts without losing the customer, to how your products or services can make or save money, to something as simple as the tone of your voice when you answer the phone and on and on and on. The Power Of WHY is the single most powerful word you can use in assessing you business.

Let’s look at how the Power Of WHY can be used to identify issues in your business.

COMPANY A – Manufactures plumbing products, have 5 key competitors and have declining sales the past 2 years. WHY are their sales stagnant? The CEO sits down his management team and works through a brainstorming and information gathering event they have called Operation WHY. Here are some of the questions and team answers:

 WHY do customers buy our products?

  • We have a vast line of products so customers can obtain most everything they need from a single source.
  • We’ve been in business 42 years and are known as an industry leader.
  • We ship 97% of all orders the same day.
  • Our products have low warranty claims.

 

WHY are our sales stagnant and not growing?

  • We haven’t stayed ahead of the competition who has developed some new products that our customers want and need.
  • Our company has lost it customer-first commitment.
  • We had turnover in Customer Service and have issues with attitudes and lack of relationship building.
  • Competitor A is targeting our key accounts and offering lower pricing on several of our key products.
  • Competitor B offers an extra 15 day terms to all their larger customers.
  • New account and pipeline development has declined.

Do you see some key trouble signs here? Absolutely…Competition is luring customers or part of their business away because they are In It To Win It. Company A has stopped being the industry leader in many critical aspects of their business and lost out to more aggressive and forward-thinking competitors.

Hopefully this exercise was a wake-up call for the management of Company A and they re-commit themselves to being the best in every aspect of their business as just having a great product is only a part of WHY customers buy from you. Like Lean Manufacturing Best Practices, you must constantly evolve and improve as a business and the Power Of WHY is a great place to start.

Another aspect of business is understanding who contributes to a positive customer experience. This is part of your “WHY do they buy from us analysis?”. Since People Do Business With People, the first exposure to your company may be the salesperson BUT…they aren’t the only ones who contribute to the overall Customer Experience. Anyone that interfaces with your customers such as the Receptionist, Customer Service, Delivery Person, Accounting, Technical Support, Operations and more are representatives of your company and your reputation is in their hands. You will succeed by making sure that everyone who interfaces with customers have the same commitment to treating customers as they would want to be treated themselves. If your first cultural business change is the Customer Experience then you are off to a great start.

WHY CHANGE? – WHY NOT?

www.salesxceleration.com/advisors/steve-weimar/

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Have You Thought about Increasing Demand?

March 8th, 2019

If you are reading our newsletter, I have no doubt you are interested in increasing demand. Whether an owner, executive or key player, increasing demand for your products and services has to be top of mind. Let’s put it this way. No matter the position of my client (typically a CEO, Owner, CFO, General Manager or Board member), he/she is interested in increasing demand.  Consequently, the projects we work on are typically related to increasing demand, either directly or indirectly.

I was on a panel about increasing demand at the Anti-seminar Executive Luncheon. We had interesting discussions about demand from several diverse points-of-view. Thanks to Chase Photography, you can see them as a livestream on Facebook – video 1 and video 2 (about 60 minutes total). In thinking about how to increase demand, a few highlights include:

  1. Observe how your customer uses products and services –An often-overlooked gem is to follow Apple’s lead and observe how your customers are using your products and services and look for ways to enhance their experience. Have you taken a step back lately to look for areas where you can further help your customer?  Do you make working with your company onerous? That’s an obvious one yet commonplace. Imagine if you looked further!
  1. Do you provide a superior customer experience? If you ‘shopped’ your business, would you want to buy from it? Do your customers receive their products and services as ordered and in good quality/ condition? On-time? Quicker than the competition? Do you allow for easy returns? Hopefully you answered yes to each of these. We’ve found that this solely achieves a base level of customer service. Thus, the question becomes, “What are you doing to go over and beyond to make your customer compelled to return to you?”
  1. Are you referable? First, people buy from people; not companies. Are you people referable? The #1 strategy to increase demand is referrals. No matter whether we are talking about a manufacturer, distributor, transportation partner or service organization, referrals can generate more business than any other method. Just as much as we enjoy buying the latest technology based on the referrals from our friends, the people working at companies also refer. When is the last time you attended an industry event or conferred with local CEOs? You better believe business gets done based on word of mouth.
  1. What can you take over for your customer? We have found that whether the industry is aerospace and defense, food and beverage, building products or healthcare products, there are opportunities to take over tasks for your customer. One common and prevalent one is to figure out what your customer needs at each of their branches/facilities and keep them replenished so that they have the ‘right’ inventory at the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. We see this as gaining relevance.  Distributed inventory is becoming an essential element of the end-to-end supply chain plan as customers expect Amazon-like service and will find someone else if you cannot meet their needs.

When at PaperPak, we won supplier of the year for two years in a row with our #1 healthcare products customer because we implemented vendor managed inventory and were able to maximize their service levels while minimizing their inventory levels (cash tied up throughout their system). It didn’t hurt that we also grew the business by partnering further with them while reducing our costs and inventory levels as well. Have you thought about taking a request from a customer and turning it into increased demand for you?

Our most successful clients are thinking about these types of strategies to increase and manage demand. Why not spend a few minutes to listen to the expert panel and walk away with a few insights? If you’d like an expert to assess your situation to partner with you to achieve these types of results, contact us.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

UGG Founder, the Amazon Effect in Healthcare & Why Demand is Key 



How Resilient Are Your People?

January 17th, 2019

We would be remiss if we went too far down-the-path with supply chain resiliency without pointing out that the ONLY way you’ll have a resilient supply chain is if you have resilient people.  Similar to building a house, without a solid foundation, the best accessories will fail to “hold up” over the long haul without that solid foundation.  Your team is your foundation.  Would you be willing to have your business hang in the balance if your team’s ability to “hold it up” would make or break success?  Hopefully so!

Here are a few questions to think about to determine how comfortable you are with your foundation:

  • If your competition offered your employees slightly more money, would they jump ship without much thought?
  • Are your people willing to take a risk if they know the decision will help move the company forward?
  • Are your people willing to disagree with you?
  • Are your people willing to try new ideas, even if they fail?
  • If a customer presses your people about an issue, will they blame it on “them” or will they take responsibility to resolve the issue quickly regardless of whether it has anything to do with them?
  • If changing market conditions dictate they should follow a new course that isn’t popular or approved, will they bring it up?
  • What do they say to your customers and suppliers when you aren’t listening?

Every executive at our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables and on the APICS-IE executive panel pointed out the relevance of culture and your people on business success.  Technical topics are abuzz but the REAL buzz is who has the strongest team as they will speed on by the competition and be the most resilient as the economy turns, the industry changes, a disruptor emerges etc.  With this fresh perspective, it pays to think again about your team and the priority you give it.



The Resilient Supply Chain: Cross-Organizational Collaboration

January 4th, 2019

I’ve been coordinating a process involving several disparate players, ranging from multiple educational institutions who are not aligned with one another, government players (with many differing goals) and business partners (with a completely different set of needs).  Although there are others, these 3 core groups are more than enough!

Success will only come to those who find common ground with collaboration.  If collaboration was as easy as simple communication, everyone would do it. We would probably have a lot more happy customers and more profits to share with investors, employees and for reinvestment and giving back.

What should we think about if this is the outcome we wish to create?

  1.  Look for the win-win-win –  If someone wins and someone else loses, it isn’t a successful collaboration.  If you think hard enough, there is usually a way to turn a situation into more of a win-win-win with some shared give-and-take.
  2.  Think about positioning –  If your idea is presented in isolation, it has a much greater chance at failing than if it is presented in light of the bigger picture. Why is it important?  How can each person play a role? Does each person know how he/she fits in and provides value?
  3.  Value diversity – Each time I think “I don’t want to be on this person’s team because he/she is annoying or won’t add value”, I find that I am completely wrong (luckily these are just thoughts, not actions).  The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.  And, interesting suggestions that can lead to “big” ideas typically come from someone who is quite opposite and thinking about the situation from a different perspective.
  4.  Recognize progress of the team –  Who doesn’t want to be recognized with a pat on the back as progress is made?  The key to collaboration is not to say positive things about collaboration and then reward individual performance.  Instead, reward team progress, even if that progress is simply gaining an understanding of how much they do not agree with each other yet are willing to listen.  
  5.  Consensus isn’t needed – As much as collaboration can achieve dramatically better results than each superhero individual thinking on his/her own, consensus is overrated.  Set the expectations upfront of how collaboration works. Feedback and input is expected. Discussion and debate participation is mandatory. But consensus isn’t required for every decision.  Otherwise, you might get there eventually but your competition will be LONG gone. More importantly, determine how to collaborate and make decisions upfront.decisions

The importance of collaboration comes up more frequently than almost any other topic.  Since executives are collaborating with customers, suppliers, trusted advisors, other supply chain partners and even competitors, there is just no room for poor collaborators.  

If you’ll notice, many disruptors collaborate with strange partners. Perhaps this core skill is a key ingredient to success…. Or, think of it another way, how will anything get done without it?

 



Amazon’s Deal with Party City & More Competitors

September 8th, 2018

While I presented on the Amazon Effect to a specialty group of ProVisors (trusted advisors) members focused on manufacturing and distribution recently, Amazon was firming up a deal with Party City to offer an assortment of items. This is just the latest in a stream of retailers collaborating with the competition.  Party City follows Kohl’s (see the sign in the picture below), Sears, Nike, Chico’s and more. This is especially interesting because at our recent Harvey Mudd executive roundtable event, almost every CEO mentioned a time when he/she collaborated with the competition.  Perhaps we should be keeping our mind open to the possibilities?

 

 

 

 

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Since Amazon is willing to search for win-win deals with the competition, who knows what will come next?  Are you impacted by Amazon? Every client we work with has said they are impacted in one way or another – yet 1% actually work or compete directly with Amazon.  They have certainly become a disruptor! Perhaps that’s why such an ‘old’ topic is still requested by several groups in speaking circles.

Who is the Amazon of your industry?  Or, can your company take on that role?  It can be easier to create the rules than to follow behind.  Yet, if no one follows, that can be an equally significant issue, as well.  

It may be worth asking questions of your employees – are they paying attention to what’s going on in the industry and with your supply chain partners?  Do they have ideas that might revolutionize your customer experience? How do you know if you haven’t asked? Or encouraged innovation?

In 100% of our clients, we’ve found employees with ideas that management knew nothing about.  9 times out of 10, the ideas have some merit. You never know…..it may very well lead to being the  disruptor.