Drive for Data

\"\"Over the past month or so Allen and I have had a number of calls for data. Some are from owners / senior management, some from marketing personnel and some from operational staff. The calls are from manufacturers and distributors.  The commonality is that there appears to be a call for more quantitative information for companies to benchmark their business, understand their markets and use the information to drive strategies.
And there is lots of data available. In fact, due to the automation of \”everything\”, sometimes there is too much data available! But data, when aggregated, becomes information which can then be analyzed and turned into insights and knowledge which, when acted upon, can be powerful drivers of growth strategies and profit drivers.

So what types of data are people looking for?

Here\’s some of the things that we\’re working on (and you can participate in and get free information) and some of the questions we\’re getting:

  • What technologies are companies investing in? (click her to participate in our Technology Survey)
  • Understanding market size (and eventually their market share).
    • We get this call from distributors and frequently use DISC and triangulate the information via a couple of other methods.
    • We also get this call from manufacturers and have a process to develop this.
      • As part of this process, distributors can gain insight to their business by contributing information as to the percent of their business that is in the targeted product category. We\’re currently working with a couple of manufacturers to cover the wiring device, occ sensor, cable protection and cable / wire management segments (only distributors can participate in this survey through April 19. Participants receive a free executive summary to help them understand what % of their sales should be in each of these segments.)
  • Price optimization software and benchmarks
  • Sales gap analyses to benchmark opportunities against company performance vs industry performance.  This can be at the company, branch, salesperson or account level. The goal is to identify what is / isn\’t being sold (and training needs)
  • Why customers buy what they buy and from where they buy
  • Customer account potential (which inevitably can be calculated via multiples or some other formulas)
  • eCommerce adoption (and what customers are looking for)
  • Customer satisfaction insights
  • Operational benchmarks to supplement what may be learned from the NAED PAR report results (excluding net profitability)
  • Segments for growth, similar to what we recently shared for the healthcare industry
  • Brand preference at end-users / contractors
  • Customer volume analyses
  • SPA, and other pricing agreement, analyses to optimize profitability
  • what \”ecommerce\” / online metrics should be utilized (given that many are not seeing much from a revenue generation viewpoint)

And more.
Some are considering using analytics tools to regularly identify different types of outliers (performance, margin by product, price by product, etc) to gain some consistency.  And we\’re working with some smaller distributors through Insight Analytics to help them affordably improve sales and profitability.
And marketing departments are being tasked with the responsibility for market research, lead identification (and some generation), competitive intelligence, sales analysis and sales \”guidance\” reporting.
The data from your ERP system needs to be \”unleashed\” and accessible, via easily digestible tools, so that marketing, sales management, sales people, purchasing, operations, executive and perhaps others can have access to it so it can be questioned, analyzed, reformatted, charted and graphically presented (as needed). Those who consume the data need to be able to get it from \”the kitchen\” … either raw data or quickly in desired formats but with an understanding that there could be repetitive requests as sometimes don\’t know what need until you keep asking questions of the data.
We\’re now in a data driven world. More progressive, and profitable, distributors and manufacturers are using data to drive decisions as well as to have performance metrics for their team … which drives accountability, growth and profitability.
This begs the question of \”which data metrics are important to you\” and \”what data do you need to drive your growth and profitability?\”

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