The S&S-Sales Force and Supply Chain

Sales forces want to sell. Supply Chain wants to deliver, but with understanding of the cost to the enterprise and the physical realities of warehousing and transport.  The part in the last sentence after the word “but” is where the complexity comes in the relationship between sales and the supply chain.

Meeting customer expectations for expedited delivery costs money.  Getting products shipped in peak demand periods is hard.  Customer delivery requirements can be difficult. If every customer load is hot, there is an issue there. Supply Chain sometimes tells the sales force personnel that customer expectations can not be met. Ugh! It is enough to make you thing Supply Chain thinks the customer is only somewhat right.

How can one approach these challenges? It fairly important to create an environment where sales can be successful. The approach that has the greatest chance of success is one where the company, supplier of the customer, creates value for that customer.

Let’s take a look at the issue of every load for the customer is hot, many times requiring premium transportation which hurts the supplying company profit.  Supply Chain should encourage sales not to just react to hot loads but to find out why they are happening. If you can lower the customer’s stress and therefore lower his costs that might be a win for everyone. I seen this type of problem resolved in many ways ranging from the simple, having customer service call every few days to the complicated where the supplier plans customer demand.

The ideal solution lower both supplier and customers cost and builds a stronger relationship which keeps the customer buying from your firm.

Most organizations have at least an annual sales meeting. Representatives from the Supply Chain / Logistics area of the company should attend at least a part of the meeting, to hear issues and complaints.  Communication will spark ideas to improve performance of both meeting customer expectations, in some cases shaping those expectation, and improving company processes to serve those customer needs.

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