In an era marked by supply chain and market-driven inventory challenges, learn how revenue operations and intelligence software can enable sales reps to pinpoint opportunities to sell excess and stockout inventory.
Inventory Challenges in the New Era of Revenue Intelligence
As supply chain pressure persists for the global economy, there are ways to mitigate its impacts on revenue and meet customer demand. We previously examined how a data-driven product alternative strategy can help drive revenue and automate processes, but now let’s turn our attention to inventory challenges. Any inventory challenge, be it excess, a lack thereof, or even lack of demand, can have a detrimental impact on a business’ profitability – especially as many companies are trying to rebound from a pandemic-driven slowdown.
Auto parts manufacturers are still having to deal with a lingering chip shortage, which continues to drive up vehicle prices as sales slow. Meanwhile, other industries are dealing with inventory that they’ve had on hand for so long due to supply chain and delivery issues that consumer demand has shifted. “People have started spending more on things like fuel, travel and work apparel, at the expense of categories like loungewear, furniture, and home improvement,” reports WSJ.com.
Exacerbating demand challenges is the fact that costs related to transportation and carrying inventory are rising across the board. On the flip side, some companies’ inventory is being affected by the falling prices of raw materials, such as steel, copper, and other metals.
This puts them in the costly position of holding inventory that was purchased for a higher price than it currently costs. Justifying a higher price to cover outdated costs is an uncomfortable and unprofitable position to be in with customers.
Many B2B companies are feeling the impact of inventory issues on their bottom line. The good news is that revenue operations and intelligence software like Zilliant Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™ can help tackle inventory problems with actionable sales guidance. Before we jump into how they can help, let’s take a closer look at some typical inventory management challenges.
What Makes Inventory Management So Challenging?
“The last two years have highlighted the vulnerabilities in the supply chain, including wildly unpredictable lead times and supplier performance, that can leave you with either too little or too much of the goods your customers want,” according to Supply Chain Brain.
Inventory management is a complex task, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the challenge of ensuring that excess inventory is moved swiftly in a profitable manner. In our experience helping customers solve inventory issues, we’ve come across some common recurring challenges, including:
Manual and Inefficient Processes
Many sales analysts are burdened with the time-intensive task of manually generating reports using business intelligence tools or spreadsheets. Emails and reports are all daily fodder that we expect sales reps to review, analyze, act upon, and respond. Ultimately, they lack the urgency our current business landscape calls for.
Lobbing emails back and forth to obtain only a modicum of information does nothing but waste time and offers reps no actionable insights. Manual reports also lack measurable visibility into the outcomes of the effort: Was the excess inventory successfully sold and what was the financial impact?
Leading B2B companies have already discovered the truth: Inventory must be moved with speed and precision driven by data science that’s operationalized into current systems and processes.
Both manufacturers and distributors face unique industry challenges. Some of these include large customer bases, a high number of SKUs, or products built to custom configurations. Even before the pandemic era, moving inventory was critical or else it ended up an expense on the balance sheet. However, attempting to find the right customers to sell to without leveraging modern revenue intelligence tools is a massive challenge.
Additionally, complexity is a challenge for sales reps when managing their workload with only so many hours in the day. Balancing sales initiatives, communicating with customers and potential customers, and even attending sales meetings makes it impossible for reps to consistently and effectively identify where time is best spent to secure the best opportunities.
Another email and spreadsheet on top of their lengthy to-do lists doesn’t help sales reps hyper-focus on the areas where they can drive the highest impact. As a result, the manual efforts to move inventory are often ignored by the sales team.
The prices of raw materials typically fluctuate on the open market, but the past two years have been marked by unprecedented volatility. B2B companies must be equipped to act quickly as market conditions change.
For example, let’s say a building products manufacturer bought steel when the price was high, and then prices drop, which is what’s happening now. Now, the manufacturer is sitting on inventory it paid a lot more for it than its worth on the open market, and warehousing this inventory is costing the company even more money.
But moving this inventory is difficult when manual processes are used to determine which customers are ready to buy. Emailing a spreadsheet and asking sales reps to analyze the data to push the inventory is simply not an effective approach. This inventory needs to be moved as soon as possible, and the key is equipping sales reps with intelligent, customer-specific actions to do so.
How Do You Enable Inventory and Stockout Actions for Sales Teams?
Inventory management needs to be executed with a measured and intelligent approach. Sales reps need to focus on moving inventory or identifying products to sell to customers when supply issues arise.
Unfortunately, managing inventory with cumbersome spreadsheets just doesn’t work in today’s landscape. Instead, B2B companies need to react swiftly and wisely when it comes to inventory, and the best way to accomplish that is to adopt revenue operations and intelligence software that can:
- Generate actionable, real-time insights from an unlimited number of data sources
- Prioritize sales actions based on specific criteria, which can then be delivered to any commercial execution system
- Measure the financial impact of campaign actions and sales rep behavior
Combined, these solutions pack a powerful punch. They intelligently and scalably derive and deliver revenue-driving, account-specific actions to sales reps, eCommerce sites and marketing operations tools.
In the case of inventory challenges and stockouts, they help B2B companies move inventory quickly by translating data into prioritized and actionable, customer-specific insights.