Demand Planning on Inventory Management

As a manufacturer or service provider, your sole responsibility is to ensure that your product and service development is aligned with customer needs and desires. As a result, demand planning and optimization should ensure that marketing and sales are in sync with customer expectations and demand. Once you’ve determined what customers want and which products are in high demand, it’ll be much easier to procure materials on time and optimize your production to reduce lead time.

Any business seeking to increase customer satisfaction must invest heavily in software that assists in tracking sales trends and capturing customer needs. Customer surveys are also critical because they enable you to identify customer interactions with your products and brand, allowing you to reengineer and optimize your production and service delivery.

Customer and Sale Metrics Guide Demand Planning

Once you’ve established some metrics for customer satisfaction with products and services, you’ll be able to determine where and how to adjust the products. Additionally, such knowledge will assist you in optimizing your procurement process and product sourcing in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Consider the following scenario where you anticipate a large volume of products based on historical sales patterns. Analyzing sales patterns can assist you in planning optimal stock quantities, inventory levels, and quarters.

Demand Planning on Inventory Optimisation

The most critical aspect of supply chain management is inventory management. When one speaks of inventory management, they refer to the entire process, from the acquisition of raw materials to the sale of intermediate and finished products.

You can purchase inventory and store it optimally through proper optimization. As a result, demand planning facilitates the efficient management of supply chains. Additionally, demand planning can align high-level and high-volume business planning with demand and product forecasting to reduce inventory costs, shorten lead times, improve service levels, and boost profitability.

Effective inventory management enables a business to obtain the optimal quantity and quality of raw materials with the least disruption to future costs and time to avoid product delivery delays. One of the factors that contribute to delivery delays is a shortage of raw materials, which can occur due to poor planning. Delays in the delivery of products and services can give customers a negative impression of a business, resulting in customer attrition. Therefore, it is critical to maintain an optimal inventory level available for sale in unexpected orders.

Demand Planning in Warehousing

Pay-as-you-go is one of the best on-demand warehousing models promoted by digital payment platforms. Electronic commodity marketplaces and Airbnb exemplify on-demand warehousing. Electronic platforms enable service delivery and product distribution to expand and grow without exposing a business to risks associated with fixed costs.

As a result, demand planning in warehousing is effective in platforms such as e-commerce retailers that face high levels of uncertainty. Through on-demand warehousing, retailers can rent small sections of warehouse space across multiple marketplaces, and we can facilitate simple product and service delivery to customers.

The benefit of on-demand warehousing is that customers only pay for the space they use rather than being locked into a long-term lease. However, one of the drawbacks of this dynamic concept is that market conditions determine pricing and no one is guaranteed a specific spot in the warehouse.


Lunch Club sign up page

Lunch for business networking

Back in the day I moved to Auckland in 2012 and since I am networked into the tech crowd, I was an early participant in LetsLunch. An opportunity to meet people face to face for a quick lunch and a business ‘get to know you’ discussion.

It was a blast – I remember meeting Hamish Pinkham and John Humphrey through the group.

Now there’s the opportunity to do it again – virtually.

Introducing Lunch Club

I can’t wait.

The chance to approach people in my locale and to ask them for lunch was so powerful and gave us all a chance to grow our networks alongside the pleasure of eating nice food is something I’d like to do again.

Lunch Club sign up page

Lunch Club for Auckland – let’s get started

So will you join me?

We need 450 people to join the group before a New Zealand Lunch Club can launch. Click the link to subscribe to an “Auckland” club…. don’t worry if you don’t live here – as long as you and I are in New Zealand I think we can make this work.

Lunch anyone?

Sales funnel, B2B sales, B2B marketing expert

Tips for manufacturers to grow client base

My company provides mechanical designs and manufacturers and supplies products to a few companies in both the US and Europe. How do I increase my customers?

This is a typical “opening” question that I get asked when starting a new engagement with clients.  B2B marketing needs to be closely integrated with the new business and new client acquisition process to be effective.

For a public question and answer, I gave some straightforward answers.  The detail of how to apply these, is where my expertise will help you get it right first time.

Sales funnel, B2B sales, B2B marketing expert

Planning B2B sales and marketing plan

Step one for B2B sales

  1. Ask your existing client/s for referrals. If they were happy with the work that you did, they should be happy to help. If you feel the need, offer them a X%/$X discount on the next project for every client they refer. This is ‘win-win-win’ situation because you get more clients, they get a discount, and they use your services again.
  2. Ask your existing clients for a written recommendation & permission to use their logo on your website. Publish them both on your website. This will help increase the conversion rate on your website. If you feel the need, you can offer them a link to their website which will be good for both of your SEO rankings – so another win-win.
  3. Publish as much (relevant and quality) content as possible on your website (about the projects you’ve done, potential projects, your fields of expertise, etc. Obviously, you need to have a professional and trustworthy looking website. I can explain how the articles need to be done.
  4. Create a free ‘get a quote tool’ – many customers check online to get an estimate of how much the project will cost. If you have an automatic online tool, this can attract a lot of customers. I have personally used such a tool and I was very impressed.
  5. Partner with organisations/companies that work with your target clients – for example: I work with lots of entrepreneurs and many of them ask me for referrals to various types of service providers, including programming companies. These companies give me a small percentage of the profits they make from my referrals (of course I only refer to companies which I know and trust as my reputation is worth more than the referral fee).

Step 2 tactics for more sophisticated marketers

In Europe, there are a number of partnership sites for B2B. You could use these sites to post your offer or search for other offers and hopefully make a match.

Another approach is considering hiring local distributors who specialise in your industry. The advantage here is local distributors will already have a strong network to promote your products/services. Furthermore, local distributors would have thorough understanding of the local market, language, and business culture to close deals.

Go talk to your current customers. Ask them why they do business with you. They may, and most likely will, tell you something different than you’re saying to new prospects. Listen to what your current customers are saying and use their messaging to talk to the market. Ask them if they know other companies that could use what you have,

Go and join the professional trade bodies who represent the industries for your existing clients. Ask your existing clients what these are. Once you are a member, you will be able to see a membership list of other organisations who are also members
Plan outbound marketing to approach these companies and see if they want to also work with you.

Consider visiting the annual conferences and trade shows which these professional bodies run because you will then meet in person with prospects. Many people find it easier to sell their expertise face to face. You could consider doing a trade show stand as well where you can display your past work and the logos of your clients. This builds trust and can start discussions.,

B2B sales and marketing work together

In summary – you need to learn the process of B2B new business, you need a strategy for your new business development and then you need a regular tactical execution process to deliver the new business programme.

You may choose to hire an external advisor to help write the strategy, you could get an in-house salesperson to deliver the tactical execution as well, depending on the size of your contracts and how many you need to get in order to pay for their salary plus commission to make it worthwhile for the business.

Solving B2B marketing challenges

I got this question from a client

Marketing Association Training Courses

Our challenge is the digital marketer who may not be well-versed in the requirements and realities of B2B. Often they have come from a B2C/retail environment, and might get stuck on things like 3rd party seller integrations that we don’t offer, rather than the deep integration and B2B functionality we specialise in. These personas are generally NOT committed to passing on our story, because they’re telling themselves a different one.

Common situation – where you know more than the (junior) client marketer, but you need them to be willing to implement your solution.

How to solve for ignorance

Easy fixes.

Find a partner who LOVES those 3rd party seller integrations and agree to collaborate with them. So you can confidently say that “yes we integrate with everything” and bypass these objections. [BTW Zapier does pretty much everything with an open API.]

One thing you can also do is offer deep hands-on training when you implement so you will be up-skilling the digital marketer who doesn’t have a B2B marketing background… leaving them skilled in both using and implementing good tactical campaigns. If this can be aligned with a public certification as well (See the CIM courses or NZ Marketing Association Diploma) then there’s a side-benefit for the individual getting a recognised qualification along the way.

conversation, art of conversation, problem conversation, issues conversation

Conversation as a marketing tactic

At the weekend I was teaching a class on The Art of Conversation and it was such an enlightening experience.

Firstly, the topic intrigued me because I wondered who wanted to learn – and I soon found out that the group was a complete mix of people.  Some wanted improved networking for work and some wanted to make new friends and others who found it hard to keep a conversation going. 

Marketers and sales folks all use conversation in our daily work.  Step back and take a read of the insights below and challenge yourself to improve or work out solutions to these situations.

How Conversations are Structured

Conversations are unique – but they are all underpinned with a framework which can be easily learned. The 4 Fs which give ideas about how to ask initial easy questions around four themed topics.

Because I like to balance teaching theory with practice we spent time face-to-face with each other trying out the techniques – a bit like speed dating!  Then we moved into practicing “branching” which is when the topic of conversation can move to adjacent topics. 

As a tutor, I delight in the unique learning experience every class has and so the second day began with feedback from overnight practice of “The Conversation Game”.   The students had chatted with parents, relatives, people at the bus stop and supermarket.  Each was a special and individual insight into their new confidence gained by practicing the framework.

Our final task was to learn how to disagree.  This is difficult because many think an argument is not a conversation.  I think learning how to respectfully disagree is an art form and a useful skill to balance with listening and really hearing the message in a conversation.

What our conversations lack

In researching the topic I asked the crowd what they thought was lacking in good conversation and the top picks were:

  • balance in exchanges – time speaking
  • listening deeply
  • ensuring the next topic is related to the previous one
  • bringing in spectators to the dialogue
  • interpreting body language successfully
  • don’t propose a hypothesis – ask a question
  • know how to conclude a conversation graciously
  • listening to understand, rather than listening to respond

Some good insights on conversations [forgive me if I don’t attribute]

Dialogue is like a good game of ping pong or a satisfying volley. Full of questions, quick 2 sentence exchanges, more questions. Good conversation is Not about serving aces, or hogging the ball (pontificating). That’s boring for both players as well as anyone watching.

In Howard’s End E.M.Forster has that great phrase ‘only connect’ which can be read many ways, but the art of conversation (rather than the art of debate) is about connecting and listening, and making your contribution to a conversation relevant to those of others. It is about connecting with their point of view or description or anecdote, being appreciative of what someone is sharing with you and listening, even if you don’t agree, and even committing it to memory – even if only as an exercise in concentration.

In the Steve Martin film, LA Story, he’s at a trendy dinner party and says to the woman next to him, “I hear you’ve just finished your masters in conversation”. She says “Yes” and then just sits there.

Reframing can be helpful or follow up questions to check what they really mean. In a group of more than two, take care that it doesn’t become a spectator sport for the rest. Ask the third person if they can describe a similar experience to draw them in.

Indicate that you are committed to spending some time in this conversation and talk about random stuff. Never ask a woman what her husband does for a living or show other gender discriminating assumptions. Ask a lot of ‘what made you..’ ‘how did you manage to..’.  Ask for opinions and advice from the field of strength of your conversation partner. Go a bit crazy and don’t be predictable. Make the person feel accepted and belonging, not patronised or alienated.

Conversational Challenges

Some of my correspondents play games during their conversations – especially if they think the dialogue is not balanced

Sometimes I have even stopped mid sentence just to see if they noticed and they don’t they simply use to gap to jump in as that’s all they were waiting for. I see this a lot at work and especially in meetings. If I call them out on it gently we laugh and it resets the exchange. Most don’t even know they do it.

Others presented situations which are worthy of our thoughts and so put your insights in the comments.

I particularly notice that many men do not ask open questions, and if they do, they are significantly less likely to actually listen to the answers. Of course #notallmen, but there is a strong correlation. They often just expect to be interviewed about how brilliant they are, and the idea of putting in effort to develop a conversation seems alien to them. I honestly think that there are plenty of men out there to whom it has never occurred that this might be a specific responsibility to be shared equally.

Here’s a problem that I don’t know how to solve: providing honest feedback has about zero if not less than zero benefit to the person providing the feedback. And so most feedback is dishonest – either superficial or irrelevant or in what may be the most misleading and useless cases, inaccurate. What to do?

Make your B2B proposal stand out

One of the joys of being a freelance consultant is that sometimes I get to act on behalf of my client and hire specialists to work on their B2B marketing campaigns.

I recently advertised a job and was stunned by one of the proposal submissions. As a new business specialist I know how hard it is to make your proposal stand out from others. This one hit all the gold stars for me.

Integrate proposals and CRM

I was sent an unique URL to view the proposal. This makes everything trackable – it was on a sub-domain of the B2B marketing agency’s website and so I know they will be able to track:

  • How many times I opened it
  • Which sections I browsed (they are distinctly separate)
  • How long I spent reading each part
  • Which sections I expanded to read further

All in all it was a pleasure to read and to be “sold” to. I felt engaged in the process and I know my actions on that page enabled the agency to get better insight into me as a prospect.

Screenshots from the marketing proposal web page.

And a final note, there’s a Squarespace service Qwilr which offers this on a 14 day trial.

seth godin, purple circle, marketing easter egg

Marketing using easter eggs

Little surprises that reward your customers are a really nice way of helping them to feel special.

Today I got a marketing easter egg from Seth Godin.

The benefits of careful reading

The message was short, barely formatted and it’s one I have waited a year to receive. Hidden in the fourth line was a surprise.

Don’t forget to look for the purple circle on the website to get the best price.

Seth Godin, The Marketing Seminar

…. and so I took a look.

It looked like a pretty piece of graphic art. But one of the circles had an embedded link. NICE….

Seth Godin, purple Circle, marketing easter egg, link hidden,
Hidden Marketing Easter Egg Link

How do you reward your loyal customers?

Sometimes I get frustrated when we make an offer and few people take it up. I think “That’s an AWESOME deal – why isn’t everyone paying attention and buying?” But I realise that I’m looking at it the wrong way around; I should be delighted that only the most savvy, the most loyal and most deserving customers are the ones who take up the offer.

I think of these as my “ultra-loyal” customers. They care enough to read. They don’t skip my messages and so I can give them a reward that others don’t take up.

Can you use an Easter Egg Marketing Strategy for your best customers?

Get insights into Seth’s thinking with his latest book This is Marketing – the course above is based on it.

Followers on LinkedIN, How to use LinkedIn, Social Selling, B2B marketing

Who’s your LinkedIn Follower?

LinkedIn hides some of its best features – deliberately.

So here is my quick tip of the week to help you grow your connection base.

Do you know about your followers and following feed?

Thought not.

Log into your LinkedIn. Then paste this into your browser and take a look at this URL.

It lists everyone who is following you. The image below shows Philip Goffin – he’s following me. But I’m neither connected to him, nor following him.

Woo Hoo – lots of followers, Famous fellow.

Now for the inverse, Following. These are the people you are following.

What’s the use of following on LinkedIn?

Well, many times you want to see the News Feed updates from people, but you don’t actually know them and so connecting isn’t appropriate.

Or you just think you will see their updates for a while before approaching for a connection request.

Or you are hoping to quietly bring yourself to their attention without being too pushy – so follow them in the hope they notice you and send a connection request.

Go forth…. try it for yourself.

P.S. You can no longer export contact information from LinkedIn and so I’m advising clients to build contact lists outside of the platform for every new contact they make.