Bringing everyone in sales and everything with your brand on it under a single platform is definitely a big step forward to building a strong sales enablement program.
Yet, to fully automate sales enablement, you also need to streamline the marketing supply chain from order inception to the final shipment. When a sales rep places an order for the weapons he needs to go to battle (i.e. pens, shirts, couple flyers, business cards, really whatever) it should:
- Be from a SINGLE marketing platform – not 4 different places
- Automatically route the order demands to the appropriate vendor
- Keep the sales rep informed on the status of the order
Sounds simple right? But gaps in the marketing supply chain is a challenge many businesses have a hard time closing. Coordinating multiple print shops, promotional merchandise partners and apparel vendors to satisfy the appetite of a growing sales force can become a full time job. Multiple locations, different vendor systems (some analog) can take hours of manual intervention while leaving you with no way to centrally control budgets, track costs, monitor demand or ensure your inventory levels are appropriate.
This is the last article of a multi-part series discussing what marketing and sales can do to stay synced and run a sales enablement program that drives more revenue.
Sales shouldn’t spend time worrying about marketing supply chain logistics. Sales reps should be able to find the assets they need, place orders and get back to work without having to worry what vendor is responsible for producing what. In fact, marketing shouldn’t have to worry about marketing supply chain logistics either. Marketing should have a centralized control center for their entire marketing supply chain – bringing together their end users that request assets and the chosen vendors to produce/fulfill those assets.
Aside from ordering and production automation, cost savings and increased efficiencies of staff workload, a single source for management and production ensures brand, quality and costs consistency while enabling the team to refocus their talents on larger marketing and sales initiatives.
Here are 8 tricks/tips you should consider to streamline the marketing supply chain so that marketing focus on marketing and sales can focus on selling.
1. Streamline and centralize the order process while pushing demand automatically to whatever vendors you choose.
This is a win win scenario. The sales force wins by having a single place to go for ALL their operational and marketing needs. The marketing group wins by having a satisfied sales force that is equipped for the next meeting and by reducing the amount daily manual intervention needed. All while connecting multiple vendors, a variety of production methods and any asset category.
With a solid marketing management platform, it should be “automagic” to host your entire marketing catalog in a single shopping experience and connect to the supply chain partners of your choosing.
2. Gain flexibility and work with the producers/vendors that make sense.
Don’t get me wrong – we are firm believers in long-standing vendor relationships and the value a partner that truly knows your business brings to the table. That said, don’t get stuck with a vendor just because it’s too hard to connect with a new one. You should control the user experience/store and make your vendors earn your business.
3. Gain control and visibility of your entire marketing supply chain
Centralizing to a single marketing portal allows you to have a single hub to monitor the metrics that matter the most to YOU. Whether you are trying to control budgets, reel in the brand, expand your reach on who can get your assets, or simply trying to make sure orders are going out on time, a strong marketing asset management platform can help.
4. Make intelligent buying decisions.
In today’s world there are a variety of options when producing marketing materials. Do you buy 25,000 pens from overseas or is it best to produce 50 at a time on-demand? Should you produce a static marketing flyer on a Web Press, Offset Press or Digital Press? Is the sales force even using the “Insert Campaign Name Here” postcard? The point is, in order to make intelligent supply chain/purchasing decisions you need a platform that can view everything that is happening and give you concise usage/velocity reports on your assets. Data is still king!
5. Remember your end user.
At the end of the day the end customer experience should really be your core focus. I know this doesn’t speak directly to streamlining the supply chain but it does apply. If the process to find, personalize and order marketing materials is too difficult people WILL go rogue. Mark my words it will happen. Instead of trying to police rogue activity provide your end users (perhaps the sales force) with a platform/shopping experience that is pretty, fast and easy. Don’t give them any reason to go to John Doe copy shop to produce 50 flyers with the wrong colors, outdated message and bad design.
6. Like raising kids (or dogs), sometimes it takes an army to keep your sales team happy.
Marketing teams need to look at technology as a “force multiplier”. In most organizations, the marketing team is out numbered 10 to 1 by the sales team (note – that stat came from the air), marketing needs to automate where they can. Often times the flow of physical products to end users is a great place to start. Allow the sales force to personalize things online (aka self-service) while ensuring your brand stays compliant. Have a centralized place where the sales team can find, personalize, order and track all the marketing collateral you produce.
7. Stay informed – without requiring Microsoft Excel.
Now don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t get far on a daily basis without using excel in some form or fashion. That said, if you are spending time compiling data from different sources, building pivot tables, updating cost/spend reports, or performing calculus to figure out how many widgets to buy, you may want to look at different options. Having a centralized location to know which products are popular, what products you may want to take an inventory position on, which products need to flip to print on demand, and so on can help you gain hours in the day. Perhaps more importantly it may just keep some of those grey hairs tucked in.
8. Close the gap between sales and marketing.
Marketing should be able to easily get assets to sales, and sales should be able to easily locate any asset (digital and physical), personalize marketing materials and order promotional merchandise without worrying about the marketing supply chain. Marketing should be able to easily release new assets, add new vendors, and support anything with the brand without worrying about the marketing supply chain.
Bringing all your marketing products, sales reps and vendors under a single roof allows you to gain branding control, consolidate systems and streamline the marketing supply chain from beginning to end. Allowing marketing to focus on marketing, sales to focus on selling.
Hope you enjoyed this three-part series on how to build the ultimate sales enablement program and picked up a few ideas on how to get marketing and sales working together while focusing on their core responsibilities.