A Distributor Asks: We have a process in place for handling paper flow from the quote process to delivery of the product but are curious as to how others handle this step. What do others do to enhance and improve order flow management and follow-up?
Having an understood common process is awesome, putting you light years ahead. Keep asking questions of your process. What steps add value or increase productivity (measured as output over input)? Or looked at from another way, which steps only add costs and/or time that diminish the output value? Tweak as needed to your advantage. Several little time savers and/or value enhancers add up big, allowing more of your time to spend on top line performance or simply enjoying a bigger bottom line for the cost savings. I recommend in today’s world avoiding paper whenever possible; instead, opt to automate operational flow with cost-effective and productivity-enhancing technology-based tools. The ideal technology is pre-packaged into one smooth operational system that flows from start to finish, from database-driven proposals through client invoicing, incorporating CRM and websites, with the power of the cloud so the process and its information can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
Logo My, LLC
In my 30-plus years of promotional product sales I have learned to keep it simple. After getting a lead of interest I fill out a call sheet. This will be discarded after I start the client fact sheet in the office. This is a two-part NCR form I created. It is a detailed account of what the client’s interests are and their personal contact info. One copy goes with me on the sales call, one remains on my desk. I use this data to make a false invoice on the computer. I also enter this info on my computer notes. I put all details on the client fact sheet and follow a timeless format I learned many years ago while in the media industry.
The Five Ws
Who is the client?
What are they looking for?
When do they need this item?
Where are they located (and all related data)?
Why do they like (need) this item?
This is the sheet I use for all details regarding the type of products, especially my preferred suppliers’ offerings, that I will be looking up upon return to the office. I enter the supplier’s product details, pricing, setups, shipping, etc., on the false invoice. I create a paper folder and also a computer folder for the client. I then call on the client to show them what products I have found that meet their needs. They qualify which items fit their needs and I then put together my price offer and show samples (samples sell!) and other sales pitch offers. I make sure to upsell here. The false invoice is updated as the sale moves along. Once I get the sale, I create and send the purchase order (P.O.) to the supplier. I then create the invoice. In my note file I enter the order placement date, and the tentative order shipment date. This is determined from the details on the suppliers’ sales literature. I now have a paper trail and computer trail.
I have a file on my desk that I then put the paper folder in using a FIFO (First In First Out) order. So the order that has been in the file the longest is the one that is taken care of first. If I do not receive an acknowledgement from the supplier in a timely manner, I call or email the supplier company and confirm the ship date.
Glen D. Eley
Eley Imprinted Products
We used to print everything out and would store each calendar year in boxes and archive them. It’s a lot of boxes, so we recently went paperless in our office. We utilize our software’s notes function so all of our staff can see what is going on with any given order. It has eliminated 75 percent of our printing.
AB Unlimited Worldwide
SOP. SOP. SOP. Standard operating procedures create efficiencies and streamline the way things are done—the same way, every time, by whoever is doing the task. They enhance the customer experience as well.
Ryan B. Small, CAS
Blue Dog Merch
Do You Have An Answer?
A Distributor Asks: We have a client that hosts numerous C-suite events annually. They have asked for some input on gift ideas for the high level executives and have given the feedback that they don’t need another speaker, camera or more headphones. Please share suggestions on gift ideas [generic rather than supplier-specific products] for high-level clients that already have it all. The budget is up to several hundred dollars per item.
What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name by October 17 to Question@ppai.org for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.