5 Consistent Challenges For An Inside Sales Team (And How To Combat Them)

Sales is a demanding, yet ultimately rewarding, career, no matter what type of sales you engage in and what segment your product fits into. However, inside sales professionals face a unique set of challenges in their day-to-day activities. These obstacles are inherent to the very processes of inside sales, so leaders and reps must learn to recognize these potential pitfalls and counteract them to build an effective operation.

Not getting to speak to the right leads

It’s no surprise that generating a high volume of valuable leads is a vital concern for people in all levels of the sales unit. Sure enough, a 2016 study of inside sales managers found nearly 24.3% of respondents cited “lead quantity & quality” as a major challenge.

To reliably bring in more and better leads, sales and marketing must work together to agree on what kinds of content will effectively inbound and nurture high-quality prospects. Additionally, they must decide at which point it’s appropriate to hand off a marketing lead to an inside sales rep and, at a more fundamental level, they need to define what a qualified lead is. It’s up to salespeople to take the initiative and insist on collaborating during certain stages of the marketing process, so that each unit can better learn from each other in the service of the leads.

Standing out in a crowded field of competitors

One of the key differences between field sales and inside sales is that field sales representatives almost always have the opportunity to make a physical impression when they meet prospects. Inside sales professionals don’t have this luxury, meaning they often have to find a way to stand out through a phone call, social media interaction, or a cold email.

Aside from getting more qualified leads, the best thing a salesperson can do to stand out is to ask their prospects the right questions, and let them tell you about their pain points with specificity. Then you can use these insights to demonstrate you intricately understand why your solution is ideal for their problems.

Getting the most out of technological tools

Almost every organization now has access to innovative sales acceleration technology and robust CRM programs. However, employing these platforms is not the same as making sure every sales professional in the company knows how to fully utilize them; that requires initiative from multiple different parties.

First, IT management and even technology vendors must be committed to making sure the solution is accessible and compatible with existing programs. Sales leadership also has to ensure their employees understand the importance of the technology, and how it will help them better serve their customers and exceed their goals. Finally, sales reps must take an active role in training programs so they know how various technological tools can be used optimally for their duties.

Staying motivated in a structured environment

Unlike field sales — which typically involves frequent changes of scenery, meetings outside of professional settings, and so on — the average day in an inside sales office is usually quite structured. You come into the office and answer emails, make sales calls, log data into your CRM, perform customer research, and get ready to do it again the next day.

Many workers thriver in this type of environment, but plenty of others can find it difficult to stay motivated if things become too predictable. Rather than viewing their schedule as a series of repetitive tasks, reps must learn to see each prospect interaction as a unique experience, and an opportunity to find out what they can do to make each individual client’s life better. When every action is performed in service of this goal, the inside sales process is far from monotonous; it’s a new, value-added experience every day.

Finding time for adequate coaching

Every inside sales professional understands that hitting certain numbers is vital. You can have the best sales strategy imaginable, and be a rep who instantly connects with your prospects no matter what the medium is; if you don’t contact enough people, and have the right data on hand, you simply won’t have enough conversion opportunities.

So, obviously, you have to find time to do the work. The issue is meeting these obligations often cuts into your time to accomplish peripheral tasks, such as coaching and professional development. Maybe your manager is content to let this slide, because they have a lot on their plate as well. The key is for management and front-line reps to come together and understand how important coaching is to everyone involved: managers, reps, customers, and company stakeholders. It’s actually not a peripheral activity at all, and each party has an obligation to notify the other if expectations aren’t being met.

This article is originally posted at Tenfold.

Know The Top Transport and Logistics Companies in Nigeria

The Nigerian Logistic industry is a multi-billion Naira industry, but it is faced with a number of challenges.

Logistics in Nigeria has its peculiarities, poor infrastructure, high CAPEX, low barriers to entry, poor regulation, low profit margins, quality of staff etc makes it a tough nut to crack.

The biggest success story in recent times in the sector is Uber which is why a lot of courier companies are beginning to adopt their model.

Sarah Kessler once wrote “The idea that technology could not only fix anything, but the same technology could fix anything in many cases proved arrogant. Just as an app’s interface may seem stupidly simple to someone with no knowledge of code or product design, every service industry- Cleaning, delivery, grocery shopping, caring for kids – is complicated in its own ways, and often in ways that technology alone cannot improve.”

Following is the list of transport and logistics companies in Nigeria which use technology (it might not be modeled after Uber) :-

Kobo

Kobo is a global logistics platform right from the heart of Africa, leveraging technology and effcient processes to serve its cltizens and the rest of the world. Putting transportation in the hands of every individual. Facilitationg the movement of your goods and packages by guaranteeing, safety, speed and affordability.

Whether you need 100s of trucks a day , or only couple every month, Kobo will find you the right truck every time.

Kobo is modeled on Uberized (on-demand) business model and operates in PAN Nigeria.

GMC Logistics

GMC Logistics is an international freight forwarder for African businesses. Innovative operational techniques enabled it to enjoy almost immediate success and growth. It achieves this by assisting African businesses to align the right strategies for their input supply, product distribution and costs reduction.

For each client, its competency and efforts are focused on the design and implementation of customized, process-oriented and seamless solutions that meet their specific needs in procurement, sourcing and freight services in a timely fashion.

GMC is intensely technology focused to deliver on its promise of Fast and On-time delivery. With access to the largest number of Trucking & Warehousing assets throughout the country.

Red Star Express

Red Star Express provides a portfolio of full logistic solutions which includes, but not limited to International and Domestic express delivery, Freight Forwarding, Integrated Logistics Solutions, Information and Document Management Solutions, Warehousing and E-commerce Solutions.

Red Star specializes in convenient, economic ground haulage delivery service, using trucks and vans. It consists of haulage of domestic heavyweights, trucking cargo consolidation, ancillary services, and warehousing services.

KOS Deliveries

KOS Deliveries provides logistics services where it delivers to all the customers in every location across the country which it currently covers.

KOS Deliveries provides a service where they collect payment on delivery rather than in advance. If the goods are not paid for they are returned to the shipper and monies are not to be paid before the goods are delivered. Except in cases where the customer already chose to make payment before orders are delivered.

It also provides a service where they return all shipments to the originating location for the shipper to pick-up if unsuccessful. Shipper is contacted upon return to the location.

Its ambition is to be the best delivery partner. With state of the art technology to provide a great customer experience in moving packages to every corner of the country.

Trans-Nationwide Express

Trans-Nationwide Express Plc (TRANEX) is a leading Logistics Company engaged in domestic and International Express delivery, haulage, freight and other ancillary transportation and storage services.. It is a wholly owned Nigerian company which was established in 1984 as TNT Skypak Nigeria Limited. In 1992 the name was changed to Trans-nationwide Express Plc. With a share capital of N250,000,000 and over 3,600 shareholders, it sought and obtained listing on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (1st tier) in 1993. It is currently one of the only two Logistic Companies in Nigeria quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Dropbuddies

Enter DropBuddies, the first “on-the-way” delivery network that connects people who have items to send with independent couriers headed in that direction.

By utilizing excess capacity of vehicles already on the road, it is tapping into an existing infrastructure made up of the places people go and the patterns we drive every day. The result is a faster, cheaper, and more efficient shipping alternative for everything from cupcakes to gadgets to couches.

It is a peer-to-peer package delivery service and as such, once you make a delivery request, its system automatically uses GPS to alert DropBuddies closest to where you indicated as pickup point via push notification on their mobile device. The DropBuddy who then accepts your request would contact you and head to the pickup point to help fulfill the request. It leverages on tools such as maps, artificial intelligence & algorithms to understand and manage routing of packages more effectively.

Having combined technologies with shipping, it has created a digital version of an on-demand delivery. The distinctive feature is that everybody can have a try at working as a courier. All you need to do is to apply and download an app online. Moreover, the presence of a vehicle is irrelevant as it accepts different people from pedestrians to van owners.


Related Article: Is Logistics Industry in Nigeria still worth N200billion?


Zippy

Zippy Logistics is on a mission to satisfy the needs of its customers and clients by providing high quality services in the areas of procurement, logistics and warehousing to small and medium scale markets in Nigeria.

Nationdelivery Nigeria

Nationdelivery is the Africa market leader in global express, Logistics. Nation delivery Nigeria Ltd , is a company registered as a logistic under cooperate affair Commission RC 1038133 since 2012 and infrastructure with the introduction of online tracking ensuring that it can continue to handle your parcels with greater speed precision, and bring cheap parcel delivery to the masses, so it is best placed to meet the rapid growth in demand within the express parcels market.

Max

MAX is on a mission to fix Africa’s notorious last-mile delivery and online-retail problems by using mobile and web platforms to connect consumers, retail businesses and independent drivers in real-time. It is eliminating all logistics and technology barriers that have historically prevented retail businesses in Africa from realizing their full potential.

Cityrun

Cityrun is Lagos based provider of Parcel Delivery and Courier Services. It applies the industries Best Practices, Technology, and the Right People to satisfy its customer’s distribution needs. The strength of its offerings lies in its commitment to deliver on time, cost effectiveness, and operational efficiency.

Courier Plus

CourierPlus is a leading logistics and distribution services company established in 2009. It offers a wide array of express courier and logistic support solutions to its various customers.

With over 400 highly skilled personnel, it has excellent competencies in striving sectors such as Financial Services, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, Government Agencies, and Oil & Gas/Utilities. As a diverse end-to-end logistics solutions provider, it offers a range of expertise aimed at helping customers re-engineer and re-invent their businesses to compete successfully in an ever-changing marketplace, with the final objective of safely and promptly delivering all its customers consignments as expected.

CourierPlus Services Limited was recently acquired by Superflux International Limited in 2012. Since the acquisition, it has upgraded its offerings and deliverables to its esteemed customers using the most efficient and up to date infrastructure.

MFS Delivery

MFS Delivery Limited Commenced operations in 2013, becoming the pioneer business of its kind in Nigeria. MFS Delivery Limited is a service provider that offers courier services to individuals as well as the Nigerian Business Community, within Lagos.

Since then, MFS Delivery Limited has grown in the number of customers it has, and in the various services on offer. MFS Delivery Limited has continued since its inception to offer impeccable services to its clients and has hence continued to grow. Due to its outstanding performance, it has curved a niche for itself in the courier business and has received media attention.

Delivery Bros

DeliveryBros is an online platform that supports intra-city logistics by matching SMEs, online retailers and individuals with the nearest dispatch on it’s network to pick-up within minutes and deliver their packages.

DeliveryBros as an On-demand hyperlocal delivery platform provides pickup and drop off services for Individuals, Retailers, Sellers and Merchants. DeliveryBros provides 3 Hours express delivery within Lagos and Abuja, with Pick-Up time as fast as 45 Minutes using licensed motorbikes avoiding the immense Lagos Traffic and offering fast delivery services with coordinated routing technology.

ACE Courier Express

The need for reliable Logistics for E-commerce in Africa has become inevitable especially with the growth of online retailing and demand in Africa. There are no other equipped entrepreneurs to take the market than the founding fathers of E-commerce in Nigeria, the Co-Founder and former Managing Director of Nigeria’s No 1 online retailer Jumia, Tunde Kehinde and Former Chief Operating Officer of Jumia, Ercin Eksin.

ACE (Africa Courier Express) is Nigeria’s largest consumer oriented logistics company with a world-class technology platform. Hundreds of merchants ship daily their parcels and packages by leveraging ACE’s Pay-on-Delivery, tracking and business intelligence services.

ACE is an indigenous African enterprise, delivering world-class logistics solutions to both businesses and consumers. Founded in 2013, Africa Courier Express (ACE) is currently in 5 cities in Nigeria and expanding rapidly.

ACE has partnered with major e-Commerce retailers to offer affordable and reliable movement of consumer packages across Africa. Its technology-enabled logistics solutions, anchored by a first-class customer service team and dedicated riders, create a seamless customer experience for both retailers and customers.


Flexspace provides superior knowledge and information on Supply Chain, B2B, ON Demand in India, Nigeria and Indonesia.

Top 5 Customer Service Lessons for B2B Sales Reps

If you are in B2B sales, you’ve probably found yourself scouring the internet for customer service tips only to find countless articles and videos peppered with information and advice unfit for your needs.

It’s the reality — most articles on customer service improvement focus on B2C sellers servicing individual clients. Because the usual techniques that apply to B2C customers generally differ from the needs of those served by B2B’s, it comes as no surprise that B2B customer experience index ratings lag significantly behind their B2C counterparts, with the former averaging less than 50% compared to B2C’s 65-85% range.

But did you know that customer service is just as important in the B2B arena, if not even more so? In fact, a recent survey commissioned by LinkedIn revealed how start-ups with killer customer service are creating a serious problem for big business.

report released by Accenture also shows that “many business-to-business (B2B) companies recognize customer experience is critical to growth and competitive differentiation, yet fewer than 25% of them excel at it.”

So, why do many B2B companies struggle in getting it right?

In a fast-paced world where clients expect fast, reliable, and effective solutions at the click of a mouse, how do B2B sales reps deliver excellent service that meet client expectations?

Read on to know the top 5 B2b customer service lessons that sales reps need to learn to stay on top of their game.

LESSON 1:
Know your customers like the back of your hand.

Knowing all of your customers and being able to provide efficient, working solutions to their problems ASAP is a crucial part of B2B sales success.

Remember that unlike B2C’s who usually deal with one-time purchases from individual customers, B2B companies ideally develop and maintain long-term relationships with clients whose needs may change over time.

This means that B2B sales reps need to have updated, in-depth and accurate knowledge of the different needs, goals, and targets of their clients. They must be flexible and sensitive enough to anticipate and address potential issues as they arise—way before the client becomes frustrated enough to switch to the competition.

LESSON 2:
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all customer service.

In a B2B environment, there is not one single customer.

Instead, there are often multiple people involved in the sales process—from canvassing, selecting, testing, purchasing, to using, and troubleshooting the product within the customer company.

Multiple stakeholders can include CEO’s, purchasing departments, legal teams, operations managers, as well as the actual end users of the product or service. The sheer number of people involved makes the B2B customer experience a lot more complex compared to B2C, making it more challenging for B2B reps to identify and address client concerns.

This is where the pitfall of one-size-fits-all customer service commonly rears its head in B2B companies. In an effort to address the huge number of seemingly common, recurrent problems, many B2B reps opt to direct their clients to generic FAQ’s pages.

Now, FAQ’s pages aren’t all that bad—they certainly have a purpose for first-time users needing a walkthrough on using a product or service—they scarcely provide any value to a long-term user who’s been experiencing a recurrent problem not included in the FAQ’s page.

Instead of having a catch-all page that attempts (and often falls short) to answer customer concerns, why not send out a support email that elicits specific details regarding the problem?

This allows B2B companies to gather concrete data on the most common problems faced by clients and take action to resolve them. An email also reassures customers that their concerns are being heard by real people who can offer actual solutions.


Related Article: 6 Major Differences between B2C vs B2B Sales Strategies


LESSON 3:
Customer service is more than just a buzzword.

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, once said that,

Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company.

This means that B2B companies should make customer service and satisfaction an integral part of their day-to-day operations.

This doesn’t mean the customer always gets what they want, nor does it mean the customer is always right. It means that the company, including all of its employees, makes a commitment to providing the best kind of customer support able to meet the client’s expectations.

Remember that in B2B customer service, excellence or mediocrity can make or break an entire company. Because a B2B company’s clients are so few (and so precious) compared to B2C, word-of-mouth can have a huge impact on a company’s revenue—especially since research shows that 30-40% of B2B customers offer referrals IF their customer experience was a pleasant one.

LESSON 4:
Don’t hesitate to go digital.

In today’s world where almost everybody is on social media and has access to the internet, neglecting to maximize digital technology to improve customer service delivery can cost B2B companies serious dollars.

Remember that the influx of technology has spurred a tectonic shift in consumer behaviour—a recent report from the Aquity Group shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, 94% of B2B buyers say they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product, 24% have made a purchase for their company using a mobile device, and 71% prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own with access to a sales representative via the phone or online chat if needed.

This means that B2B companies who under-invest in digital technology (such as eCommerce, customer self-service, digital sales and service integration, cloud-based sales, digital marketing, collaboration tools and mobile enablement) are likely to lose precious customers to competitors who, via digital means, are able to provide 24/7 support to customers wherever and whenever they need it.

LESSON 5:
Don’t forget the people behind the business.

B2B sales and marketing have a reputation for being staid and boring compared to their B2C counterparts. B2B sales reps often focus too much on mechanically enumerating the benefits and features of their products, often forgetting to add the right mix of creativity and personal touch to the sales process.

Don’t forget that even in B2B sales, actual people—not companies—buy products from people they like and respect. Good B2B sales reps still need to master the art of communicating and building rapport with their customers. After all, as an article in the Harvard Business Review says, “no amount of technology can improve a company’s sagging sales figures as long as companies are set up to market products rather than cultivate customers.”

This article is originally posted at Tenfold.

Is Logistics Industry in Nigeria still worth N200billion?

Nigeria is among the lowest cost crude oil producer, and with international oil prices fixed in US Dollars, couldn’t care less, until now, that the economy faces total melt down with the steep drop in oil prices.

Nigeria has to seek and move towards future oriented industries such as green energy, synthetic food processing etc to keep its economy growing. Else, the overall Nigerian economy is in such a doldrums that it will only shrink with time.

Next Growth Industries in Nigeria

Food commodities and agri business will be key drivers as countries in Africa move to higher levels of food processing and trade in food products. Facilitating this trade “will require vast improvements in cold-chain services, including both transport and temperature controlled storage facilities.

Nigeria’s logistics and supply chain industry suffered setback in the last two years according to the 2016 Logistics Performance Index, a World Bank Group bi-annual metrics.

Nigeria has continued to consistently under-perform and remain in the fourth percentile on World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index reflected the poor rankings on:

  • time delays in international shipment,
  • poor tracking and tracing capabilities,
  • poor logistics quality and competence,
  • efficiency of customs clearance process,
  • quality of trade and transport related infrastructure,
  • ease of arranging competitively priced shipment,
  • quality of logistics services,
  • ability to track and trace consignments,
  • frequency with which shipment reach the consignee within the scheduled time

Supply chains are complex, but their performance is largely dependent on country characteristics, especially the soft and hard infrastructure and institutions that logistics requires to operate well, such as imports, regulations, procedures, and behaviors.


Related Article: Understand the on-demand economy and is it really rising?


How is Logistics Industry doing in other African Countries?

Logistics is becoming an important growth industry in other parts of Africa such as Kenya, Ghana with potentially lucrative opportunities for logistics providers, despite significant infrastructure challenges. Industry experts say growth in Africa’s logistics market is being driven by higher trade volumes as local economies diversify and expand, domestic consumer demand skyrockets, global demand for natural resources escalates, and as infrastructure improves, boosting intra-African trade.

A year ago, Chicago-based Seko Logistics opened offices in Uganda and Ethiopia, urged on by strong energy, mining and technology industries (Seko’s core markets) in East Africa. The new offices add to Seko’s existing coverage in Libya, Egypt and South Africa. Bob van der Putten, Seko’s managing director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, says the company is also opening offices in Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti and Zambia, as part of its aggressive African expansion strategy.

A delegation of Kenyan logistics and information technology firms traveled to the Netherlands in September 2015 to develop partnerships with Dutch companies that provide IT solutions for the logistics sector and to learn from logistics companies that use IT systems to enhance the efficiency of their operations. The mission was organized by the Kenya Shippers Council and Teampro Kenya Ltd., the local arm of the Dutch consultancy, Teampro, and partly sponsored by the Dutch government.

How can Nigeria Reach N200Billion worth Logistics Industry?

Transport

Although the extensive road and bridge network in Nigeria carry 80% of the domestic passenger and freight, the increasing role of regional interconnections of transit (Lagos – Dakar Trans-saharan Nig and Lagos – Mombasa) routes could be considered growth corridors . Nigeria must consider other alternatives to road network such as Railways and Air Cargo.

Governance Challenges

Governance challenges remain in the areas of corruption and fiscal policy inconsistencies as is the need to consider security issues in the Niger Delta region include personal risk assessment in investment decisions.

Despite Nigeria being the 2nd most attractive place to do business (UNCTAD 2013 with returns > 35%) foreign exchange volatility could create swings in profitability.

Nigeria needs a stable democratic government whose focus stays on overall development of the nation.

ICT

ICT has had a more profound impact on Customs Facilitation (such as National and Regional Single Windows) and other forms of expedited shipment. There is no doubt that ICT redefined Supply Chain Management landscape in the areas of data mining, data warehousing, e-commerce, e-retailing and affects all of the areas of Supply Chain Management.


Flexspace is source of superior knowledge and information in Supply Chain, B2B, and Ondemand in Asia and Africa. We primarily cover emerging markets of India, Nigeria and Indonesia.

Why is it important to have Efficient and Effective Warehousing in Supply Chain Process

Warehousing and logistics facilities play a vital role in the overall supply chain process. This article will address how efficiency and effectiveness can be achieved in supply chains, and provide some perspective on current challenges and the future.

It is evident that continuing globalization and changes/challenges occurring in such areas as reverse logistics, environmental sustainability, information technology, and overall supply chain integration are further evolving the strategies, roles, and responsibilities for warehouses.

In fact the term “distribution center (DC)” and “Hub and Spoke model (HaSM)” may be much more appropriate in representing the broad range of activities that now occur in modern warehouses that go beyond filling customer orders to provide an ever expanding array of value added services.


Related Article: Why You Must Convert Your Traditional Distribution Model to a Hub-and-Spoke Model POST GST Era?


There are a number of situations where only DC’s simply would add cost (and little or no value) to the supply chain. DC’s add little or no value for products bought in bulk (e.g. raw materials, manufactured items) with little or no time sensitivity associated with their use.  Products insensitive to transportation costs (i.e. transportation cost is a small percentage of product value) also typically move directly to customers.

Where DCs are not effective for your business there HaSM warehouses might come into play and make overall warehousing in your supply chain process cost-effective and efficient saving you costs in both short and long terms.

A hub warehouse can operate as a distribution center (DC) for other products, however, DC’s provide a dual value-added role making supply chains more efficient and more effective. DC’s add efficiency by consolidating products for shipment to customers, reducing transportation costs, and performing a broad range of value added services (e.g. branding, labeling, assembly, packaging, kitting, reverse logistics). DC’s also make the supply chain more effective. The strategic placement ( a customized warehousing model mixing both HaSM and DCs) of DC’s allows the positioning of products and services close to major markets and customers (the economic principle of place utility).

Optimization strategies are utilized to position product availability and delivery as a competitive advantage while also optimizing the cost trade-offs associated with transportation, facilities, equipment, workforce, and other critical cost variables. DC’s also facilitate time utility by storing product until it is demanded.

Product type often determines the need for and specific role of DC, HaSM in the supply chain. Characteristics to be considered include:

      • SEASONALITY in either PRODUCTION or CONSUMPTION
      • DEMAND VARIABILITY
      • MANUFACTURING ECONOMICS
      • MARKETING and PROMOTIONAL INITIATIVES
      • TRANSPORTATION ECONOMICS
      • SERVICE REQUIREMENTS
      • CUSTOMIZABILITY and VARIANTS of PRODUCT

Products that have extremely high service requirements from a time perspective present unique challenges since they often effect the efficiency, performance, and cost of customers’ operations. As an example companies that distribute parts for technology products (e.g. computers) and capital goods (e.g. airplanes, construction machinery) must be capable of distributing those parts within hours. Similarly many automotive manufacturers have “inbound” DC’s located in close proximity to manufacturing plants so that sub-assemblies and other components can be assembled and “profiled to line“ for the production process.

Postponement is also becoming a critical issue and value added service for DC’s. When demand is unpredictable it often makes sense to “assemble and ship to order”. Inventories remain “generic” providing more flexibility and reducing costs (e.g. inventory, transportation, surplus, obsolescence). Postponement is particularly effective in supporting customer product configuration and branding requirements.

Company capabilities to determine DC requirements are essential for achieving successful networks and operations. DC requirements include location, design and operations, determining the information and technology requirements, and measuring performance.


Related Article: Why you must benchmark supply chain of your business?


Location
In addition to transportation costs DC location is determined based on the the location of major markets and customers, the location of supply points, the volume of product moving to or from supply points and customers, transportation rates, the level of service required, and the product characteristics. Local conditions including access to and cost of labor, land and buildings, IT/communications infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, and government policies (e.g. environment, incentives, taxes) also play a significant role in determining location.

Design & Operations
The product, how it is received, the nature of customer orders, service levels, and transportation mode are the primary determinants of distribution center design and operations. Product characteristics include weight and dimensions, packaging, shelf life, temperature and lot control requirements, and hazardous material requirements. How the product is received is critical to both inbound operations efficiency (dock to stock cycle time) and space utilization/storage efficiency.

To optimize efficiency in inbound operations it is ideal to receive material in an immediately storable conveyance (e.g. pallet, case, box). The types and volumes of orders that are processed and the number of stock-keeping units (SKU’s) in the DC are important considerations in determining layout, equipment selection, and business process requirements. Storage equipment selection should be matched to product characteristics, volume, and any additional unique requirements (e.g. security, temperature control, lot control).

A word of caution if you are considering automation – automation to reduce transit time in the distribution center almost always represents an opportunity for improved efficiency. Automation of other processes (e.g. receiving, locating/storage, order filling) may become a critical constraint particularly if there is a significant variation in demand (e.g. seasonality), change in product characteristics, or change in product mix.

Information and Technology Requirements
Information is the critical driver for successful DC operations. Short term forecasts provide information to determine labor and space requirements over a short term planning horizon.  Longer term forecasts are used for capacity planning (e.g. DC size, workforce and equipment requirements.). Information technology is critical in achieving DC performance. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) direct where products should be stored and provide the necessary functionality for the completion and optimization of receiving, storing, and shipping operations. Additional functionality may permit the use of hand held devices and bar coding to optimize efficiency and reduce errors. Most WMS systems also include inventory management functionality that permits the DC to have real time information on the inventory status of all items in the DC.

Measuring Performance
The primary objectives of DC’s include providing the right product, at the right place, right time, and damage free – at a competitive cost. Fundamental to achieving and sustaining these objectives is measuring performance.  The most common DC performance measures include handling productivity, space utilization, accuracy, damage, service, cost, and inventory.  Handling productivity is often measured in “units or lines” picked per hour or total handling cost per “unit”. Space utilization is evaluated based on the percentage of total space available for storage, percentage of useable storage space actually used for storage, and storage cost per unit of product.

Accuracy includes measures of location and record accuracy, the percentage of items picked correctly, and the percentage of orders picked correctly. Damage measurements include the percentage of items picked that are undamaged when received by the customer and the percentage of orders picked without damaged merchandise. Service measures include fill rate which is based on the number of orders that were filled completely.

Cycle time is also a critical measure to determine service and efficiency. Dock to stock cycle time is a critical measure of how long it takes to make material available following receipt. Order cycle time measures the elapsed time from order receipt until order shipment. Order cycle time may also include transportation to measure the total elapsed time until the customer receives the product. Cost and inventory performance measurements include total distribution center cost per unit handled, distribution center cost as a percentage of sales, and inventory turnover.

Conclusion

To make warehousing efficient and effective in Supply Chain Process of your business you need to pick warehousing model, warehouses design, warehouses location, warehouse management software system accordingly to the product types your business sells, and then measure the performance of your warehouses individually and overall in order to take decisions further.


Adopted from source: http://www.scmr.com/article/warehousing_efficiency_and_effectiveness_in_the_supply_chain_process

Listing all Transport Aggregators in India – Big to small

India is a country where in each corner we will find a doctor, an engineer, a startupper. Competition is just in each industry; it takes only an idea to become a hit.

Rivigo (not listed as an aggregator because it owns most of its trucks)  organised the transport industry of India. Blackbuck further enhanced by providing an aggregation app for transporters and customers.


Related Article: Top 7 ondemand truck operators and aggregators in India for your manufacturing, distribution or ecommerce business


All this started to happen in early 2014s. Three (3+) years from then we have had more than 20 transport aggregators. 2016 saw a lot of transport aggregators exiting the market but there are still a few active which are listed below :-

NameWebsiteOperates in
Pikkolhttps://www.pikkol.com/All over India
Truckguruhttps://www.truckguru.co.in/Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vadodara, Indore
Shipprhttp://www.shippr.in/Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai
City-linkhttp://city-link.co.in/Bangalore
Lolo Indiahttp://www.loloindia.com/All over Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra
Ezytrukhttp://ezytruk.com/All over India
Moovohttp://www.moovo.in/aboutusDelhi NCR
Blowhornhttps://blowhorn.com/Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad
Lot Truckshttp://www.lotrucks.com/Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad
Return Truckshttps://returntrucks.in/Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana
Trukkyhttps://www.trukky.com/Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad
FR8https://www.fr8.in/Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Madurai
Loadkarohttp://www.loadkaro.com/All over India
Vaahikahttps://vaahika.com/Delhi NCR
Trukkerhttp://trukker.in/Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor
India Truckshttp://www.indiatrucks.in/Delhi
Blackbuckhttps://www.blackbuck.com/PAN India

I hope this article helps your business find a reliable, cost-effective and efficient transporter partner which can help you deliver products to consumer on time.

How CRM can improve your eCommerce sales teams productivity

CRM software was heralded as an innovative way to help businesses better manage their sales pipeline and customer relationships. Unfortunately, its launch was accompanied by a host of new challenges: Configuration was complex, implementation pricey, and teaching new employees the intricacies of a whole new system proved time-consuming. Even after lengthy training, users were faced with tedious tasks and a disjointed experience. It’s no wonder, then, that many sales representatives still loathe CRM software. It just brought increased frustration to the workplace rather than fulfilling its original promise.

New CRM software, however, has subsequently emerged that now addresses the most common user complaints. Nowadays, CRMs are ushering in systems that genuinely increase sales productivity; these new systems are elevating eCommerce sales, as well as those in brick-and-mortar companies. Here’s how.

Developing a Successful Business Model

CRM for eCommerce is only as good as the data it holds. After all, people cannot analyze data they don’t have. Previous CRMs required users to enter contacts manually, thereby negatively impacting efficiency. In an industry that demands everyone be a hare as opposed to a tortoise, this can be very problematic.

Contemporary CRMs now automate the collection of data by integrating with the productivity apps that businesses already have in place. eCommerce CRMs instantaneously compile data, such as spreadsheets, emails, and calendars, and glean insights from that information. Consequently, sales reps and their managers receive beneficial insights that can help them make important business decisions right away.

By capturing the right data at the right time, sales teams spend far less time in sales meetings discussing what took place and focusing on strategies to meet business goals instead. By involving everyone in the process of providing sales reports and updating client information, managers can gauge whether performance matches expectations; doing so can also help identify employees who are ready to move upward within the company.

CRMs also include numerous tools that help sales teams be more productive. Things like asset libraries, email templates, individualized reports, and data analysis allow employees a convenient way to improve their work capabilities. Moreover, they provide managers with an efficient way to measure individual performance and identify areas that can be improved.

Empowering Sales Representatives

CRM in eCommerce should provide insight that sales managers and representatives can act on to improve the sales funnel. Prior to having efficient CRMs, companies were forced to rely on numerous software programs—not to mention the time and money spent training, testing, and upgrading these systems—to stay current with other businesses.

CRMs can now organize and visualize the information in an easy-to-interpret manner. This allows sales managers and representatives to make sound business decisions. Teams are handed tools to track progress toward goals and review performance. By having this information readily available, sales employees no longer have to guess what will come up during a performance review or question how they measure up against sales quotas.

Moreover, customer service representatives benefit from having information like product inventory, customer purchasing history, and payment background a mere click away. They can utilize data, such as customer browsing and purchase history, to better upsell and cross-sell products to customers. In a B2B model, they can use this information to negotiate purchasing terms with customers.

Building a Thriving Customer Service Portal

Having an eCommerce CRM helps sales reps identify ways to improve connections between what customers want and what a business delivers. It provides the possibility of communicating with clients without tying up the employees’ time and simultaneously provides answers based on the data unveiled.

A CRM system integrates and seamlessly unites all facets of a business because all departments can use the CRM to communicate with a customer. Also, representatives have remote access to vital information through the cloud-based platform.

Delivering a high-caliber customer experience becomes easier when sales representatives have more information available. A robust data set brings that information to the forefront, thereby allowing reps to close more sales. Managers can focus on other concerns while the CRM software handles more of the online, interpersonal relationships.

Improving Closing Percentages

Many prospective customers make a purchase after seven to nine interactions with a brand. Most sales representatives, however, quit trying to make a sale after a mere three interactions. Forming a strategic plan to consistently contact potential clients can help prevent prospects from dropping off the radar.

CRM software helps companies structure such a plan and organize steps for high-quality interactions. It assists in prioritizing opportunities and managing them in a structured sales pipeline that extends from initial contact with a website to a closing sale and follow-up.

Reducing Employee and Sales Fragmentation

When operating multiple systems, such as Outlook, Act!, or other accounting programs, it becomes increasingly likely that information will be either lost or neglected. Fragmented and unlinked data results in lost sales opportunities. When customer service representatives leave sticky notes on their computer screens, unattended business cards stacked on their desks, and sales tools in multiple places, it’s obvious that problems will result.

An efficient e-commerce CRM platform allows representatives to focus on actually selling while the sales window is open. Rather than searching for notes, opening numerous applications, digging up phone numbers, or placing callers on hold while programs lazily open, sales reps have the information all in one place and ready for instant access. This type of software can help avoid such bottlenecks by:

  • Providing email templates for appointment confirmation, sales follow-up, dropped-cart messages, introductions, and case studies;
  • Generating an asset library that maintains all of the customer’s information in one convenient place, while also protecting a company’s brand and messaging;
  • Customizing reports so that managers and sales reps can readily see how each individual, region, and product are doing. This also allows management to track progress and provide corrective action if needed.

Providing Targeted Marketing Opportunities

By segmenting and targeting optimum accounts, sales teams can develop a consistent strategy to nurture those clients. Whether this is through management follow-up, a thank you letter, marketing a new product, or providing a relevant company newsletter, CRMs can offer visibility to these accounts so that an effective strategy can be developed. That way, relationships are deepened and important clients aren’t lost.

An eCommerce CRM cloud system can also pull together information from multiple sources, such as the financial department, customer service center, and marketing so that sales opportunities aren’t disjointed or fractured. It also gives an overview of performance so that management can easily see if certain accounts—particularly the high-selling ones—are being appropriately nurtured.

Reducing the Cost of Online Transactions

Online payment methods that don’t require divulging credit card information are becoming increasingly popular. Money transfers and online payment services are becoming the norm as people grow reluctant to expose banking account information. For companies without an integrated CRM system, these alternate payment methods carry a hefty price tag both regarding fees and the time spent processing.

Research indicates that the cost of labor through a non-integrated system can range from $5 to $16 per order, which seriously impacts a company’s bottom line—even those who function solely in the eCommerce industry. By contrast, businesses with a fully integrated CRM system can enjoy a fee of less than $1 per transaction.

This article is originally posted at Tenfold.

Understand Which Key Performance Indicators or KPIs Make your Warehouse Efficient and Effective

Supply Chain is the backbone of any manufacturing or distribution business and to make it more effective and efficient there is a need to measure its performance.

Warehousing is an integral part of supply chain management. Should products not move effortlessly within a warehouse, a business could come to face serious challenges to its welfare. The warehouse must be continually measured by key performance indicators.

To understand how the warehouse operational performance can be improved, there needs to be an assessment relative to an achievable “standard” or “benchmark.”  There are two pieces to this: Measurement/metrics and benchmarks.

Measurement/Metrics:

Metrics are a valuable measuring tool but they can be overwhelming if your tracking too many of them. Metrics should not take the human element out of evaluating your personnel. Each business must decide what metrics are valuable and track for production and trend purposes. Metrics need to be evaluated interdependently and find their relationships.

Here is a list of standard key performance indicators related to a warehouse:-

Warehouse Key Performance Indicators
Warehouse Key Performance Indicators

Order Fulfillment Metrics

On-Time Delivery % – Orders On-Time vs Total Orders Shipped

Order Fill Rate % – Orders Filled Complete vs Total Orders Shipped

Order Accuracy % – Error-Free Orders vs Total Orders Shipped

Line Accuracy % – Error-Free Lines vs Total Lines Shipped

Order Cycle Time Hours – Actual Ship Date Minus vs Customer Order Date

Perfect Order Completion % – Perfect Deliveries vs Total Orders Shipped

Inventory Management Metrics

Inventory Accuracy % – Actual Quantity per SKU vs System Reported Quantity

Damaged Inventory % – Total Damage $$$ vs Inventory Value (Cost)

# of Days on Hand – Average Month Inventory $ vs Average Daily Sales/Month

Storage Utilization % – Average Occupied Sq. Ft. vs Total Storage Capacity

Dock to Stock Time in Hours – Total Dock to Stock Hours vs Total Receipts

Inventory Visibility Hours – Receipt Entry Time vs Physical Receipt Time

WIP Inventory/Turns – A commonly used ratio calculation to measure the efficient use of inventory materials. It is calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold by the average inventory used to produce those goods

Warehouse Internal Operations Performance Metrics

Orders per Hour – Orders Picked/Packed vs Total Warehouse Labor Hours

Lines per hour – Lines Picked/Packed vs Total Warehouse Labor Hours

Items per hour – Items Picked/Packed vs Total Warehouse Labor Hours

Cost per order – Total Warehouse Cost vs Total Orders Shipped

Cost as % of sales – Total Warehouse Cost vs Total Orders Shipped

Downtime in Proportion to Operating Time – This ratio of downtime to operating time is a direct indicator of asset availability for production.

As warehouse managers expand on the list of metrics to meet more specific needs in their operations. Additional metrics warehouse managers use are shown below:-

Productivity measure of direct labor cost vs handling revenue

Adjustments to cycle counts. Watch to understand if cycle counting employees are actually completing counts or doing them from a desk. (This only applies if you have a WMS.)

The ratio between support workers, clerks, supervisors, managers and floor workers. As a general rule, keep the ratio of support workers below 20% to 25%.

Overtime hours per person

Cube through put per man hour

Inventory adjustments vs. credit memos from customers

POI – Perfect Order Index

CPU – Cost Per Unit

UPH – Units Per Hour

Revenue per sq. ft. 

Space usage

Labor utilization

Employee turn-over

Reportable Health and Safety Incidents – A measure of the number of health and safety incidents that were either actual incidents or near misses that were recorded as occurring over a period of time.

Conclusion

Measuring success is very critical through KPIs as these guide us where we are and where we have to go.Warehouse being an integral part of the overall supply chain management thus it is of utmost importance to measure how your company’s warehousing operations are performing.

Measure progress against the warehouse’s own targets vs against other operations because performance depends on a variety of unique factors such as processes, specific customer expectations, and automated materials handling infrastructure.

At the top of priority list for many is Productivity in Revenue per Employee. This is a measure of how much revenue is generated by a plant, business unit or company, divided by the number of employees.

Sales Follow-Up Calls and Emails: Why, When, and How

Gatekeepers and decision-makers receive hundreds of emails and tens of calls each day. Not getting a response doesn’t automatically signal a lack of interest–they could really just be too busy.

If you want to get through to them, you need to follow up.

For someone working in sales, there are many reasons why following up should be part of your toolbox–if not one of your main weapons.

Why are follow up calls and emails important in sales?

According to a study by Marketing Donut, 80 percent of sales take 5 follow-up phone calls after the initial meeting to close. However, it was found in this study that almost half of salespeople give up after just one follow-up. Having a persistent follow-up plan in place already puts you ahead of the curve.

Even in struggling markets, sales follow-ups are essential. In this study of mortgage lenders by Tenfold data analyst Roshan Shetty, he found that the most successful salespeople are those who are persistent in following up both by phone and email.

When do I need to follow up on sales leads?

If you want to get ahead of the competition, one simple change you need to make is to follow up more. Sirius Decisions released a study that found the average salesperson just making two attempts to reach a prospect. So whether it’s following up on an appointment or dialing out to try if someone picks up–keeping up this practice is all worth it in the long run.

Aside from persistence, another equally important component of following-up is the response time. Lead response time is simply the measurement of how quick a business responds to a lead that initiated contact.

A famous Harvard Business Reviews study highlighted that out of 2,241 U.S. companies they measured, 24% took more than 24 hours to respond to lead-initiated contact, with 23% of the companies never responding at all.

These are alarming numbers that businesses should guard against, especially because a similar paper written and published by MIT professor James Oldroyd et.al. discovered that the chance of qualifying a lead drops to 10% after the first hour. Worse, no leads were qualified past the 10-hour mark. This basically means that postponing the pursuit of a lead for the next day will most likely result in the lead going “cold”.

How to follow up: Best practices

Steer clear of “touching base” calls and emails

Token emails and calls without providing value are more likely to annoy sales leads than move them along the funnel. A quick way to demonstrate value is to show care by immediately referencing a past call at the beginning of the follow-up. It could be something previously agreed upon or just a quick mention of a detail from a past call. Maybe they attended a webinar, or you or one of your colleagues encountered each other at a trade show.

Whatever approach you choose, ensure that your call is tailored to the particular prospect. Saying you’re calling to “touch base” or to “circle back” doesn’t give the prospect or lead any incentive to talk to you. Warming up the call is always a must. This is why detailed note-taking and logging calls are such important habits for salespeople. Integrating your phone system with your CRMthrough a CTI helps instill these habits.


Related Article: 7 Ways to Accelerate your B2B Sales Cycles


Utilize repetition

It may sound counterintuitive to repeat details that were agreed upon and discussed, but repetition is one your most powerful tools as a salesperson. People tend to pick up and believe what they hear repeatedly. Reiterating how the prospect or lead will benefit from your product is important. The truth is that decision makers receive a lot of calls and not making an effort to leave a lasting impression will quickly erase you from their memory bank. The more they retain, the faster you can educate them on why their problems can be remedied by your proposed solution.

Reach out through different channels

Salespeople must have information on the different ways to reach prospects and leads. You need to be able to reach out using all types of communication–phone call, chat, SMS, email, or even on-site visits. Each client will have their own preferred channel so make sure to note this down. Reach out using a combination of different channels with emphasis to their preference.

The minimum should be phone calls (both live and voicemails) and email. Voicemails are proven to be still effective as they improve familiarity. Your VMs are not enough to close the deal–but they sure help with recall and improving response rates for future outreach.

Also, leverage your online presence. Be easily accessible through social media networks, discussion boards, and through blogs. Seek to provide value to prospects and their companies even just through adding to valuable discussions on their own platforms like their SlideShare posts or blog comments.

Brush up on your summarizing skills

The ability to give a quick rundown of what was just discussed should be a skill developed by all salespeople. Once a call is over, reps should be able to summarize all the salient points quickly. Best practice is to send this list over in an email and ask for the lead or prospect’s confirmation. This also helps maintain the conversation moving forward.

Always set a plan of action for the next call

Never end a call without a ‘next step’. Salespeople must close each interaction with a clear-cut plan. It could either be setting up an appointment for the next call, scheduling an on-site visit, or even scheduling a demo with other stakeholders to reiterate the value of your solution.

Use templates and scripts

The sales team or a dedicated sales enablement team must create call/voicemail scripts and email templates to serve as guides for salespeople. Of course, these guides are different from mass email scripts. Templates and scripts help reps ensure that every relevant point is covered in each interaction. Personalization is still a must when using these templates in day-to-day prospecting and following up. Workshopping subject lines must also be done to share experiences in what works and what doesn’t.

Use existing marketing content

Sales enablement and marketing teams should supply sales with content that they can use to enrich sales conversations and provide value to customer and prospects. For example, customer testimonials and case studies of similar use cases are very valuable in helping prospects visualize their company using your solution. In the same vein, industry studies and research alongside market data must always be utilized to back up claims made by salespeople.


Related Article: Know 5 Dusty Secrets of Warehouse Management Systems


Track and measure success

As with anything in sales and marketing, that which you don’t measure won’t improve.

Keeping track of numbers related to sales interactions is not difficult anymore, what with the onslaught of different tech solutions just for this particular function. Shop around for a solution that helps you capture the most call data. Connect rates, average call times, and lead response times are just some of the important numbers that you must track in order to work on what could be improved.

For emails, tracking open and response rates are the minimum. There are solutions which help you track more metrics like click rates on your in-line URLs and even heat maps for messages.

Closing thoughts

Getting the most out of leads and prospects require patience and persistence. Make sure you value each prospect and lead, and handle each interaction with the same professionalism you would use for your best accounts. Sales, especially in B2B, is grounded on strong and trust-filled relationships. Building trust early on sets the stage for successful future interactions.

A final note: If a prospect asks that you stop reaching out, honor that. However, do your best to get feedback from this particular unfortunate event. The information you’ll get could only help you and your team improve.

This article is originally posted at Tenfold.

Why you must benchmark supply chain of your business?

Has your company ever been aware of how to turn knowledge into power?

If not then it must be shocking for you to know that there are, however, many ways in which supply chain benchmarking can be used in order to, widely, understand performance of your company’s supply chain and to identify the areas which are weak and need improvement.

Therefore, it is not important for you to wait or learn why supply chain benchmarking is increasing and is the most preferred information gathering process advocated by the advocates in mercantile arena. Supply chain benchmarking provides your clear reports on the effectiveness of your company’s logistics, warehousing, fulfillment processes.

Here are five important reasons why your company must consider supply chain benchmarking, if it hasn’t considered this before!

Setting up of business targets

To carry forward a successful business ahead the most important and essential use of supply chain benchmarking is setting up the targets that usually comes from the world of sport.

Just like the aim of many world class athletes is only to gain a name at their very best in the chosen field, or a runner desire to be super fast, or a weightlifter who wants to be stronger than the rest.

Just like these athletes your company needs to first set the target or rather set of targets because obviously whatever you desire to do you should do at your very best; that’s what any company would aim for in order to be at the top. So to be at top you must know how you’re performing.

Similarly, external supply chain benchmarking will probably show you what the companies are best in and among them how many companies use supply chains and accordingly show you the metrics and this gives you the capability for setting a new and a higher target.

Understanding the achieve-ability of target

It is essential to know the target of your company in order to make changes or improvements, if any, and also to differentiate it from the competitors after making necessary changes.

No two companies have similar supply chain methodologies.

Also, make sure while accomplishing your targets you must be aware of the fact that you already know the distance of your target or how much far are you to accomplish that target.

However, external benchmarking would help you in providing basic information so that you can enable the ongoing plan for your journey.

Developing best-in-class supply chain

It is important to learn how to develop a best in class supply chain because it may vary from different things to that of different companies. It is an essential process to have similar supply chain strategy for your business.

If suppose you plan to provide great product accessibility than your competitors so to achieve this it is important for you to facilitate various sets of supply chain benchmarks in order to have better pricing and quality.

Building a baseline for continuous improvement

If you want to improve the service, cost and other aspects of supply chain performances, be it external or internal, then supply chain benchmarking practice is nevertheless a great way to set, identify and work towards a continuous enhancement of goals.

Whereas, you might not desire to benchmark the entire supply chain but it is important for you to enhance the performances in isolated functions which include warehousing, processes, distribution center and transportation.

Identifying the metrics that matter

The famous mantra “what gets measured gets done” has been used for supply chain leaders for a long time now. Therefore, supply chain managers around the world are duly recognizing the prosperous need for meaningful and objective performance indicators that are applied accordingly.

Therefore, supply chain benchmarking is considered to be an ideal way in order to identify the metrics that usually matter to your supply chain.

Conclusion

Benchmarking the supply chain of your company is as important as measuring performances of your marketing and sales processes. Similar to Marketing ROI and Sales ROI; supply chain ROI must also be measured. An effective supply chain can save costs upto 20%.