Using Data To Align Your Sales and Supply Chain Teams

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Ensuring that your sales and supply chain teams are in sync is one way that you can enhance the customer experience. However, this does pose some challenges because the end goals of these teams don’t always match.  This challenge is further compounded by the global nature of many businesses, which depend on multi-channel distribution, multiple ERP and other business systems, and disparate reporting requirements.  For these companies and others with multiple operating units, achieving a single view of the customer across channels can be a massive (and often futile) exercise.

Both Teams Need to Overcome Obstacles

How can sales and operations teams overcome these obstacles?

Data can be a unifying force between the two because it will allow both teams to form accurate viewpoints of the customer experience. By sharing their understanding of the customer, this will allow them to work together. This can be accomplished by integrating data sources from the two business functions and providing visibility across both in order to gain a unified view of the customer that will best serve both their customers and the enterprise as a whole.

With this unified view of the customer, sales and supply chain teams can be in a better position to:

  • Understand demand patterns. For manufacturing businesses that sell through retail channels, such patterns can be analyzed from both customer orders and actual retailer sell-thru data.
  • Determine essential sales data, such as bookings at the end of the quarter, to ensure there is an adequate supply.
  • Assess the impact of projected lead times and lead time variability on customer order fulfillment.

Taking a data-driven approach to aligning sales and supply chains has value, but it is important to ensure that the data is accurate and consistently analyzed to measure both actual performance and trends. Analyzing the numbers can help both teams make decisions based on hard facts and not on opinions and gut instincts. It can also help both teams remain aligned with overall business goals. When the teams are aware of the big picture, they will be more likely to work together for a common goal and this will also help drive performance.

Take A Customer-Focused Approach To Metrics

In addition, you may also want to consider how your performance metrics and models are designed. For example, instead of evaluating sales teams on revenue and supply chain teams solely on operations performance, consider measuring both teams on a customer impact metric. For example, tracking delivery quality for premium customers is not traditionally a metric that sales teams follow, but they should be aware of delivery status to their best customers.

Both the data and the organization’s common goals will help the teams collaborate more efficiently. This data can help your sales teams form stronger customer relationships. It can also help your supply chain team become more efficient by minimizing the time it takes to get something into production and preventing products from going out of stock. By focusing on data, the business as a whole will be more efficient because the sales and supply chain teams are better aligned.

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This post was written by Pat Hennel