Did you sell? Did you sell enough?
Selling can be a rough job. Probably because it’s among the easiest to measure. When everyone knows how to measure you, everyone will have an opinion.
Every day, you’re talking to people, working to convince them they need what you have. In distribution, they usually do, but not always. If a customer needs what you are selling, is the price right? How about availability? Building relationships is critical in this space. Those relationships require trust, an intangible thing that takes time to build.
Effective sales people seek out win-win opportunities: transactions that please the customer and the employer simultaneously.
They’re thinking about the future of their work (and your business) because they tend to have an intimate awareness of customer lifetime value, even if they don’t call it that. It’s a lot easier to generate profitable revenue from an existing customer than it is to go out and find additional, new, customers. Almost every sales rep can tell you a time they leaned on a long-time customer for the last order needed to hit a monthly sales target.
These are (some of) the challenges salespeople face every day.
We get it. And we can help.
At Recurrency, we’re focused on the revenue-impacting business processes that are critical to success in the distribution space. We help companies increase revenue, profitability, and customer loyalty through the use of artificial intelligence. This isn’t your typical ERP or CRM system. Recurrency uses artificial intelligence to augment sales decision making and effectiveness, making the mountains of data contained in the average ERP system a source of competitive advantage. We help companies and their sales people peer into the future to make decisions today that will deliver outsize returns — for both the customer and the company — tomorrow. Let’s explore a day in the life of a sales rep using Recurrency.
Each morning Matt starts, hot cup of coffee in hand, like so many others — triaging his email inbox, browsing the headlines, and checking the results of last night’s west coast games on his March Madness bracket. He’s gathering the info he needs for the day. Matt’s employer is a construction supplies distributor. They keep a pretty wide assortment of product categories to meet the needs of their local market — electrical, plumbing, maintenance, the list goes on…
A new development project has finally been green-lit. Matt makes a note to check in with his contacts at the developer (who, unfortunately, happens to be a big Duke basketball fan), the engineering and project management firm, and a few of the tradespeople he’s met over the years to see if a builder has been announced or even whispered about. Matt jots down a note and creates a task in the ERP system. Before he can finish, the phone starts ringing.
A few miles away, an electrical contractor is trying to finish a job but is two and half sticks of conduit short. Cursing the estimator and her out-of-stock, go-to supply house, she’s calling around trying to find someone, anyone, with 1 ½” thick wall steel conduit in stock. Matt answers the phone.
For Matt, this is an opportunity to make a sale and gain a new customer. Sure, the contractor isn’t looking to place a very large order, but Matt knows she might next week or next month. A quick check of inventory via Recurrency and Matt confirms he has the 1 ½’ rigid conduit in stock at the warehouse closest to the job site. Recurrency provides Matt with a suggested price, one that the system has determined optimizes likelihood to buy and gross margin. Matt balances two competing needs — gaining a new customer and protecting his company’s margin.
The contractor, relieved to find someone with it in stock, is willing to pay a little more than normal just to get the job done on time. She’s scheduled to start another job tomorrow. “What’s your minimum?,” she asks. “Yeah, I can take 25. I’ll send one of my guys over with a truck.”
As Matt generates the quote Recurrency recommends a few more items — based on historical sales patterns and existing inventory levels — compression/threaded adaptors and a few different types of elbows. The contractor doesn’t need them today. “Thanks, but I have 3 trucks full of those.” Matt knows he’s establishing a relationship. She might not buy them today, but she’s more likely to think of Matt the next time.
Matt submits the quote and Recurrency provides a clean PDF to email over. While he’s on the phone with her, the contractor approves the quote. Matt submits the order. By the time her worker arrives, the warehouse team will have pulled the goods and staged it for loading.
Time to refill the coffee. Of course the pot is empty, isn’t it always? Matt grinds some beans and starts a new pot. While he waits, Matt pulls his to-do list in Recurrency up on his phone. At the top of his list, is an expected reorder from a long-time customer. Matt gives the guy a quick call. Five minutes later, another order is in the system, queued for picking and packing. The coffee’s ready. Matt refills and heads back to the desk.
It’s almost time for the weekly sales planning call. Matt brings up Recurrency and checks the open quotes list, notes a few of the higher-value outstanding quotes, then pulls up an inventory report. Recurrency highlights a new line of products that isn’t moving very fast and suggests a few customers to pitch. Matt creates a task with a couple of clicks. After the meeting, he’ll put together a bundle and try to move the stock.
Matt dials in. The VP of Sales runs through some key metrics, they get an update on the latest promotions, and it’s off to the races. But first, time for another cup of coffee.
The phone rings again, another long-time customer, let’s call him Joe. Joe runs the facilities team for a large corporate campus in town. Every few months, they restock on commonly-used items from lightbulbs to carpet cleaner. This time though, Joe is planning for a broader refurbishment of a few floors of one of the buildings. The job isn’t quite large enough to contract out, but is still a larger order than Joe usually makes. “I’ll send you the bill of materials after I hang up,” says Joe.
Matt starts building a quote. As he does so, Recurrency suggests optimal prices — those most likely to maximize revenue for Matt’s employer. Recurrency considers every order Joe has ever placed, as well as every order ever placed for the items in the bill of materials. As he adds each item, Matt reviews the suggested price and either accepts it or adjusts it based on his prior experience. In doing so, Matt is also helping the system suggest better prices the next time.
After building out the complete quote, Matt has the system generate a PDF. He emails it to Joe, then gives him a quick call.
“This seems fine Matt, but the price on the carpet squares is higher than I would have expected.”
Matt pulls up the item master in Recurrency. He thinks the price quoted is fair, but Matt’s willing to trade a small discount on the carpet if it means securing the larger order. He reopens the quote with a click. “I can come down a little if that means you’ll confirm the order today. We can do $29.30 a box.”
“OK. Let me confirm the numbers on my side. I’ll call you back in a bit.”
Matt continues working through his tasks in Recurrency: checking in with customers coming up on reorders, talking Duke basketball with Chad from the development company, and converting a couple of open quotes into orders. The phone rings, it’s Joe.
“This order is probably about a truckload. Waive any delivery fees and I can give you a PO now.”
Matt knows Joe is right and accepts. “Yeah, Joe. Of course. What’s your PO number?” Matt enters it, adjusts the freight type, and converts the quote to an order in a couple of clicks. He reaches for the coffee and takes a swig. It’s cold. “Well, I guess that means it’s time for lunch.”