Blog

Distribution Strategy

How to Leverage Technology Gain an Edge: It’s Not About Looking Like Amazon

Presented by: Mike Marks, Managing Partner, River Consulting Group

Before the pandemic, this industry was already facing major changes. From customer purchasing patterns and the rising expectations of customer experience to generational transitions and supplier channels, COVID-19 has only accelerated these disruptions

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Thrive, Don’t Just Survive with the Moneyball Approach to Innovation

Presented by: Andrew Johnson, CEO, ShelfAware, LLC

I was born into the industrial landscape quite literally with my father founding an industrial distributor in 1982 a few years before my birth. I grew up watching our business landscape changing slowly, then along came the internet… the changes were accelerated. Sales geographies disappeared.

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The Price Cutting Challenge

Presented by: Al Bates, Principal, Distribution Performance Project

Price cutting is rampant in distribution. It is also destructive to profit. Price integrity must be maintained so that profits also can be maintained. There are two major tools at the firm’s disposal—targeted rather than across the board price cuts and identifying margin build back opportunities.

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More Inventory or Less?

Presented by: Al Bates, Principal, Distribution Performance Project

Sophisticated customer research has been conducted in distribution for more than fifty years. During that period, in good economic times and bad, in every single line of trade, the same four customer needs rise to the top. They are as close to absolutes as anything in distribution.

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Max Out Margins with Strategic Pricing: 3 Blog Series

Max Out Margins with Strategic Pricing: 3 Blog Series

By Steve Deist, Chief Operating Officer, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply

Would you like another point of gross margin?  Of course!  Improved pricing is a great place to start.  But, as we all know, there is no free lunch.  If you want to sustain higher margins you need a strategy.

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Leadership/Professional Development

It’s Now or Never: Transform to Win in Today’s Markets

Presented by: Mike Marks, Managing Partner, River Consulting Group

The pandemic has incited five years of digital transformation in a matter of months, only widening the gap between distributors who have been innovating and those who haven’t. There is little use anymore in overlaying good ideas and initiatives on top of existing organizational structures that are no longer sufficient in today’s market.

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Leading Out of Crisis

Presented by: Randy Disharoon

In his comprehensive book, “Leadership: Theory and Practice,” Peter Northouse highlights a certain style of leadership needed in times of uncertainty where external forces foundationally shake our markets and standard modes of work

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Five Leadership Lessons from Washington

Presented by: Randy Disharoon

There are numerous ways to evaluate our own leadership style and effectiveness. One way is to learn from great leaders of the past. George Washington, “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” is one such leader who demonstrated five critical traits to serve as the United States’ first leader.

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Leadership: Being a Trusted Employee Matters

Presented by: Gail Alofsin, Adjunct Professor, University of Rhode Island

“Trust is earned when actions meet words.” -Chris Butler

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What Really Matters…for Executive Leadership

Presented by: Joe Ellers, Owner, Palmetto Associates

Today, there are many issues facing business leaders.  Outside factors such as disease and societal issues are now on the desks of owners, presidents, and managers.  While these are issues that must be addressed, leadership cannot lose sight of their primary objective which goes beyond short-term survival into long-term financial health.

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Management

None at this time.

Marketing

Marketing in a Multi-Channel World: 2 Blog Series

By Steve Deist, Chief Operating Officer, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply

A lot of folks consider “marketing” to include things like advertising, promotions, search engine optimization and email campaigns. These are important activities but they are really tactical, not strategic. I call them “little m” marketing.

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Operations

Managing By Exception – Part IV, Focusing on The Most Important Situations

Presented by: Jon Schreibfeder, President, Effective Inventory Management, Inc.

A few months back we discussed the importance of reviewing unusual usage at the end of each month or week. That is examining situations where your forecast of future demand was substantially different from the quantity actually sold or used. Many of you contacted us and asked about making the best use of the time you have available to work on this important task.

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Managing by Exception – Part III, Monitoring Stockouts

Presented by: Jon Schreibfeder, President, Effective Inventory Management, Inc.

When you incur a stockout of an inventoried item you run the risk of disappointing a customer.   Unfortunately, it is inevitable that you will not be able to fulfill every request for any quantity of a product.  For example, when demand for a product suddenly increases by more than 1,000% (as we saw with disinfectant products at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic) it is doubtful that you will be able to satisfy the needs of every customer.

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Managing Inventory by Exception – Part II, Interpreting Unusual Usage

Presented by: Jon Schreibfeder, President, Effective Inventory Management, Inc.

In the last newsletter, we discussed the importance of evaluating possible unusual usage in accurately forecasting future demand for products. In the next several newsletters we will look at some specific examples of unusual usage, properly evaluating them and adjusting actual usage to reflect what would have been sold or used under “normal circumstances”.

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Managing by Exception – Part I

Presented by: Jon Schreibfeder, President, Effective Inventory Management, Inc.

Do your buyers feel overwhelmed with work?  Is it necessary for them to closely examine each item in a vendor line to determine whether or not its inventory needs to be replenished? Despite their hard work, do you experience stockouts of common items while other products are overstocked?

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Sales

4 Signals the Customer is Ready to Buy

Presented by: Paul Reilly, President, Tom Reilly Training

How do you know when to ask for the sale? When the customer tells you to. The customer will tell you when they are ready to buy. They will give you clues. These are called buying signals.

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Sales Professional Training: Part II

Presented by: Don Buttrey, President, Sales Professional Training Inc.

Objections will come. Sales professionals must be trained and ready to deal with them effectively. You need SELL Defense! Complaints are inevitable. Every company makes mistakes – it’s how our professionals interact with the customer that makes the difference. These negative experiences handled correctly, can actually solidify customer loyalty. You need to SELL Defense!

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Sales Professional Training: Part I

Presented by: Don Buttrey, President, Sales Professional Training Inc.

What preparation should I expect my salespeople to do before picking up the phone or meeting with a customer? Most of the time salespeople do the typical prep such as considering the situation, doing some research, or reviewing notes on the customer such as past sales, problems, internal politics, personal facts, previous calls etc. That is important – but it is not enough. Often, at that point they just charge in or pick up the phone and “see how it goes”

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Do You Have a Generic Prospecting Approach?

Presented by: Colleen Stanley

We all recognize that prospects want to feel valued and special. It’s a basic human need. So why do so many sales organizations use a generic, one-size-fits-all approach when reaching out to prospects? Because it’s easy, doesn’t take a lot of effort or the salesperson simply doesn’t know the value of customizing their prospecting outreaches.

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The Sales EQ and Sales IQ of Effective Sales Management Coaching

Presented by: Colleen Stanley

I enjoy teaching and coaching salespeople the hard skills of running effective sales calls, what I refer to as Sales IQ. It’s challenging---and fun---to analyze and determine the best strategies to unseat a strong incumbent, attract the attention of an overloaded prospect or eliminate price objections.

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Make It a Process…Key Elements of Sales Management

Presented by: Joe Ellers, Owner, Palmetto Associates

Sales management is not equal to sales measurement—it’s a lot more important.  Over the years, a lot of sales managers have been focused on looking at reports and analyzing numbers and trends---all good stuff, but this is really like trying to drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror.  There is very little a manager can do to affect what has already happened.

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