Why worry about external collaboration when Supply Chain and Sales can’t get on!

Any review of the Integrated Business Planning or Sales and Operations Planning (IBP/S&OP) forums will throw up a raft of questions and responses from Logistics, Supply Chain and Operations professionals regarding the involvement of Sales and Marketing in IBP/S&OP.  Mostly they are lamenting the challenges of getting the Sales and Marketing team to “buy in” to the process.  Generally the advice revolves around perseverance, time and focusing on the benefits.  So this is very much a “push” process with the Logistics, Supply Chain or Operations team pushing a process or methodology onto Sales.  A very typical blog of this type is S&OP Central www.snopcentral.com/2010/04/19/100129-involve-sales-and-marketing-in-sop which outlines some excellent points about how to go about engaging Sales in the process.  One of the key points is the need for enthusiasts in sales for IBP/S&OP to work!

But what about the view from the other side?  Where is the “pull” from the Sales team?  What is their view?  While not in a position to necessarily “walk in the other person’s shoes”, I did have the opportunity to have a conversation with Mike Boyle (author of “Sales Cats” www.banjargroup.com).  Mike’s comment was interesting, suggesting that nothing is as corrosive of the Sales team’s confidence than the concern their organisation may not be able to deliver the goods or services they are trying to sell.  This then sets up a spiral of lower sales just when the operations side is trying to surge to fill back orders.  The result is a familiar boom and bust cycle with both Operations and Sales blaming the other for the problem.

So we have the situation where the two key parts of the organisation involved with “winning the business” and “doing the business” can’t get aligned.  The acknowledged tool for getting this alignment, IBP/S&OP, often doesn’t seem to get the job done.  Perhaps if we consider that these tools were invented by Logistics/Supply Chain/Operations people to try and control what they view as chaos, we can see why they might not be embraced by Sales teams.

So is the gap Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome or is there something else that the Sales team doesn’t get?  Perhaps there is an education gap; any Supply Chain course is very likely to have a module around IBP/S&OP.  It may also contain a section on forecasting as well.  Is there a similar subject in Sales courses?  Based on my rough trawl of the internet, the answer is no.

What might make sense is to include a module is sales training around “How to maximise sales and get larger bonuses by aligning your business to the Sales Plan!”  In this programme we teach Sales and Marketing professionals to use IBP/S&OP to meet their goals.  Doing so will help them understand that there is a set of levers they can use to maximise customer satisfaction while at the same time, increasing profits and reducing costs.  All these levers are there to be used to their advantage if they engage in the IBP/S&OP process.  Why wouldn’t you do it?

Some might argue that tying up the sales team in planning is not focusing them on their role.  Again Mike Boyle would argue that having a sales “process” is essential for getting first class results.  His recommended starting point for building a sales process consists of building VGBT first:





Once this is confirmed, mapping a simple sales process that sales and marketing can influence proactively is simple. It is then easy to see how the above activities would mesh well with the needs of the IBP/S&OP data requirements.  It is also clear that just like Supply Chain and Operations Sales is a “Planned Process”!

If you would like to find out more about how to engage or train your Sales and Marketing team in your IBP/S&OP process, or would like to learn more about IBP/S&OP, then please contact us at andrew.downard@adsupplychain.com.au or call +61(0)419581705.


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