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Vertical Marketing Plan Grows Top-Line Business from $24 Million to $36 Million
The company had a flat, aging high-margin business that was primarily manufacturing facility driven. Senior leadership wanted top-line growth in a difficult market; however, no direct sales team existed and the organization needed a leader to develop key vertical markets, identify customers and develop a global regional sales team to penetrate the new markets and customers.
Identified key personnel to grow the top line of the business. Developed a four-part vertical market plan and hired seven Regional Sales Managers while simultaneously integrating four existing OEM regional leads. Developed a framework for attacking markets and driving sales of existing products through new channels.
The company grew the top-line business from $24 million to $36 million and increased price realization by 6%.
The organization's industrial sales were flat at $24 million for the last 15 years with just a handful of customers representing 80% of the business. It needed to align its vertical market plans with key customers and farm the largest project opportunities quickly. However, the company was not a data-rich environment, and didn't have the resources in sales or marketing to effectively mine customers.
Generated and farmed individual market attack plans and grew customer vitality on a team-by-team basis. Purchased D&B data and attended regional trade shows with the goal of networking in four key markets. Measured new customers on a detailed vitality index of new customers in year with account sales of $10,000 or more.
As a result, customer vitality increased by 65% and the company added new OEM and distributor account business.
Owning SAP CRM Implementation Improves Forecast Accuracy to 93% Globally
Regional Sales Managers were lacking the tools to track call progress, manage opportunity pipelines and develop a stocking plan to forecast territories. Additionally, the company did not have a systemic plan or process to manage call reports, customer relationships or territory plans.
Owned the implementation of the SAP COD CRM program for the organizations sales team. Trained the team as a group on the benefits of sales force effectiveness, as well as the impact on day-to-day business. l Implemented and used the SAP CRM tool to track calls, manage opportunity pipelines and drive the pipeline to a month-by-month region forecast.
Due to taking control of the effort, forecast accuracy improved on the global level from 65% to nearly 93%.
Recruitment Efforts Attract Productive Agents
As a Financial Advisor/College Unit Director at Northwestern Mutual Life needed to build a dynamic agency of young and talented sales people in full commission roles. However, because working on full commission is very difficult, recruiting was particularly challenging.
Spent three-to-six months cultivating relationships with business school professors and placement personnel on the Purdue University campus. Attended recruiting seminars and participated in company college intern training. Created a dynamic and energetic environment for the new hires.
As a direct result of these efforts, recruited four individuals in the first year, while simultaneously finishing in the top 10 in volume sales that year, topping $3.5 million. Followed with groups of five and seven new hires. Left the agency with 12 full-time agents who were a direct connection to the College Unit and accounted for nearly $15 million in sales.
Sound Customer Service Strategy Wins Crucial Resources During Lean Times
Call Center numbers were low, near 88%, customer-specific attention and proactive communication was limited, and export sales were growing exponentially. With these challenges, Call Center resources were severely needed. Specifically, a resource for export support and a technical lead to provide excellent customer service were of particular importance. After a large Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) conversion, the Sales, General, and Administration (SG&A) situation demanded cutting resources processes needed enhancement and plans needed development to provide service without adding human capital.
Created a holistic short- and long-term customer service strategy to justify incrementally adding human resources and justify removing seven temporary employees through process improvement. In order to properly sell the concept to the president and receive approval for the incremental add, needed to incorporate enhancements to the Call Center numbers, improve communication to U.S. and overseas customers, and upgrade the manual processes currently performed by the temporary employees. Initiated an audience with the president, spent numerous hours explaining the data, and ultimately received buy-in for additional resources.
Created strong, tangible links between the strategic plan and the execution required to achieve it. Cemented credibility with the president and senior leadership by demonstrating sound and executable processes along with financial and statistical data. Presented the final request to add four new full-time employees and $175,000 of additional SG&A, and left the meeting with approval for six new full-time employees and a $260,000 additional SG&A. The VP of Sales called the meeting and acquisition of human capital a "homerun."
Leadership on Systems Improvements Protects $100 Million in Special Order Business
The Lowe's Sales and Marketing team needed a business analyst to serve as a liaison between Sales and IT for several systems-related initiatives, including an electronic catalog, UCC.net implementation, and digital asset management. Lowe's, a $12 billion retail giant, was driving systems improvements among vendors and expected quick implementation. Whirlpool risked losing $100 million in special order business if it failed to bring the systems improvements online quickly. However, the current team lacked resources to interface between Sales and IT properly.
In addition to operational duties, volunteered as a business analyst to break down complicated systems ideas into communicable actions and became the project lead for these vital initiatives. The projects ultimately led to the development of technical and functional specifications for the electronic catalog, successful implementation as the first pure manufacturer to register and synchronize data on UCC.net registry, and development of a database to store digital assets and images. Additional supply chain benefits included eliminating $2 million in inaccurate invoices from the supply chain, decreasing credit disputes, and increasing accurate labeling and distribution.
Quick implementation of the systems improvements protected the $100 million in special order business, increased customer satisfaction, and produced higher revenues. In addition, a two-year, post-implementation study estimated $1 million of working capital improved for every 1,000 SKUs in the registry.
Commitment to MBA Project Management Team Builds Productive Relationships
Hired by Whirlpool Corporation as one of six new MBAs to manage and lead 27 identifiable projects as a part of a $40 million long-term strategy to improve customer fill rates. The challenge was to integrate the project management team by prioritizing key initiatives and allocating a fixed number of resources to those projects. Bringing together six individuals with fresh MBAs, new ideas, strong personalities, and leadership potential added an additional challenge.
High-potential teaming was a primary goal for building consensus and driving change. The group of MBAs met weekly in a priority meeting to develop the projects. In addition, held dinner parties, had weekly poker games, and attended concerts together to build a long-standing rapport within the group.
The group's investment in relationships aided the team in prioritizing resources, allocating capital, and maximizing human capital. In addition, each individual had the opportunity to foster internal collaboration and best practices within Whirlpool.
Ultimately, the team's internal collaboration efforts continued as each individual moved up from the Supply Chain organization into functional roles in Sales, Marketing, and Brands. The concrete, established relationships developed in the MBA Project Management team helped drive new initiatives through the organization.
Leadership of Customer Facing System Enhancements Drives Satisfaction
Cooper Crouse Hinds was operating global contact centers on antiquated PBX and ACD platforms, and corporate wanted to implement a new $1.2 million IP Cisco phone system. Led the development effort to create a road map in support of the business processes for division and corporate implementation. In addition, developed a process to delineate regional inbound calls, fashioned training programs to support gaps in knowledge, and assisted in creating technical requirements for implementation. Completed a College of Call Center Excellence seminar, which helped in preparing the functional requirements to support such enhancements as skills-based routing, CTI screen data, and integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation. Finally, successfully created the roadmap and developed the framework for gateway communication to the company's global sites.
Using project management acumen and rigor, acted as division lead for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation. Crouse Hinds was the pilot site for an implementation that used customer care center, field sales effectiveness, and marketing/marketing communications enhancements. The functional requirements and process improvements at the division level are being utilized for full implementation at the corporate level. In addition, the enhanced customer contact information enables the organization to make fact- and data-based decisions.
The Distributor Portal had a successful initial rollout globally. The second phase of the tool, Cooper Customer Center, was a "Best in Class" for the company in terms of a self-service portal. Requirements led to the development of order acknowledgments, advanced shipment notification development, and online order capabilities. The enhanced contact center capabilities, customer relationship data, and self-service portal improvements have driven the ease of doing business improvements within the service delivery area.
Leadership Initiatives Rejuvenate Call Center and Improve Morale
Call Center answer fill rates were less than 90%; hold times were greater than two minutes; and service processes were manual instead of systemic. However, because Customer Service resources were misaligned and morale was extremely low, remedying the situation was complex.
Implemented a six-month aptitude and attitude assessment; evaluated 40 individuals in Syracuse and 6 in Canada. In addition, performed process identification, implemented Key Performance Indicators (KPI) tracing, and developed a short- and long-term realignment strategy. Tracked KPIs, identified the root cause of the individual call metrics problems, and drove improvement.
As a direct result of these leadership initiatives, call answer-fill rates increased to more than 95%, and hold times dropped to less than one minute. Another benefit of the Call Center overhaul was that systemic processes for returned goods and order entry functions replaced manual processes. In addition, by instituting recognition and celebration programs, morale improved significantly and was able to physically realign Customer Service Resources team by function to utilize existing process synergies.
Both customers and sales force needed an automated method to check the status of orders and product availability. To make these services available, a Web-based portal for the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system needed to be developed; however, there was little knowledge or direction from the company for implementation.
Led team that worked cross-functionally with IT and Cooper business analyst teams to develop detailed project plans, business requirements, and technical specifications. In the end, implemented Distributors Solution Portal, which enabled customers to check stock, order status, and glean marketing information from an Intranet site.
After implementation, the call volumes normally associated with these tasks dropped by 10%, and customer satisfaction indices increased from 4.05 to 4.35 on a 5-point scale.
Expertise in SKU-Level Forecasting Boosts Service Levels & Fill Rates
Cooper Crouse Hinds implemented a new ERP system and struggled with service levels and fill rates on high-velocity SKUs. In addition, with hurricanes, oil sands projects in Canada, and an explosion in the Middle East, capacity for both production and logistics were apparent.
However, the current method of forecasting was outdated and did not provide the demand visibility needed. In addition, old school-thinking, outdated methodologies, and a masked sense of success led to apathy in considering new ideas in relation to Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)-level forecasting.
Volunteered to assist as a subject matter expert due to experience with previous Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) conversion, SKU-level forecasting, and collaborative planning forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) projects to facilitate a new SKU-level forecasting process within Cooper Crouse Hinds. Identified a forecasting vendor and SKU-level logistics specialist by utilizing past relationships and collaborating with benchmark companies such as Whirlpool, Taylor Made (Adidas) Golf, and Office Max.
Increasing visibility to actual order demand and emphasizing high-velocity SKUs, reduced slow-moving and obsolete inventory and increased fill rates to customers by 10%. In addition, the company enjoyed a 9% improvement in forecast accuracy, and identified an internal SAP for forecast planning which will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in forecast planning tools. Finally, because of adept project management, the framework was laid for detailed CPFR initiatives.
Factory-Direct Shipments Streamline Supply Chain & Save Money
Lowe's was growing at an exponential rate, adding 50-60 new stores per year. Whirlpool's plan was to sell individually to each of its retail outlets, but this made delivery and execution in the supply chain extremely complex. The company needed an emphasized SKU offering and needed to recommend factory-direct shipments to capitalize on this growth.
The plan entailed a substantial deviation from the previous distribution system, which included manufacturing the products, shipping them to regional distribution centers, then shipping them to local distribution centers, and finally making LTL shipments to Lowe's retail stores. Changing distribution methods required coordination with Lowe's Operations and Whirlpool Supply Chain, Sales, and Marketing Teams.
Led and coordinated a project plan to implement swift change in supply chain methods. Managed the pilot of factory-direct shipments from two factory distribution facilities direct to more than 200 Lowe's stores. Worked directly with product management teams to identify a universal plan to sell offering for all 200 stores. Reconfigured forecasting process, systems delivery, and supply chain personnel.
The factory-direct shipping methods proved to be a resounding success, reducing cost-to-serve by $20 per unit shipped and increasing working capital by $4 million through improved delivery speed and reduced lead time to customers. Specifically, eliminating two distribution stops increased the speed of delivery by two days. Service-level improvements, a reduction in incorrect invoicing, and reduced inventory at the regional distribution facilities were all additional benefits of the factory-direct methods and increased service levels for other trading partners pulling from shared facilities.