Overcoming Declines

July 26th, 2017

Defeat the Decline......

 

Today’s post is by Robert Rice, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Defeating the decline is something most of us have had to deal with. It typically starts early in life. The girl you have been waiting all year to ask to the dance, says no. The time you asked your dad to co-sign on your first car, nope! Or the college you had your heart set on, “sorry to inform you but you were not selected”, blah blah blah. It’s a part of life and you will have to deal with declines constantly. But the key is HOW you will deal with the declines.

At SafeSourcing we offer an e-procurement tool that allows our clients to get better value without the hassle of hiring additional staff or devoting countless hours doing what we do in a fraction of the time. See, we deal with declines every day. In fact, we are sort of experts at it.

Declines are basically the starting point. Declines start a dialogue or a fact finding venture, where as an Account Manager, I can become better informed on the product or service I am selling. Through the engagement of the vendor, I am able to find out the real reason for “the decline” through direct questions or just being a good listener. In many cases, after speaking with the vendor regarding the decline, we both find out that they could still participate and bring value.

Some keys things to remember are:

  1.  When you receive a decline, IMMEDIATELY follow up with a phone call and find out why? There are definitely legitimate reasons a supplier cannot participate – logistics, they no longer provide that item; but before you hang up, ask, “Whom do you recommend?” More times than not, they will give you a company and a contact person.
  2. Ask good questions why the decline, “I can only bid on some of the items.” Great, we still want their participation. This can generate better savings for the items they are able to bid on.
  3. “We don’t do this this.” Great. What do you do? We might have another event they would be perfect for.

Basically, it is our job to make a decline into an opportunity, be it new leads, becoming better educated, or engaging the supplier and then finding a better event for them to join. Robert or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you with your eProcurement planning. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

Fact vs Rhetoric

July 25th, 2017

What feels true isn’t always true...

 

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

Rhetoric:

  •  The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

Though we have a basic definition of rhetoric, we need to break it down a little further to understand how it’s used. The end goal of rhetoric is persuasion, to get others to come around to your way of thinking. Rhetorical appeals are most commonly known to manifest themselves in three modes of persuasion:

  •  Logos: The appeal to logic, a means of persuading an audience through reason (though this can use fallacious logic, and not necessarily validreasoning).
  • Pathos: The appeal to emotion and imagination, a means of convincing an audience by eliciting an emotional response.
  • Ethos: The appeal to the ethics or credibility of the party doing the persuading (though again this is a mode/tool of persuasion, but credibility can be built using well-told lies also).

Now that we have a basic understanding of rhetoric, you may already be able to think of both how useful and dangerous it can be. To a degree, it could be said that we never stop using rhetoric. Statements like “in my opinion” are used almost ubiquitously, but could be said to be using rhetoric to give the appearance of humility in order to elicit a softer response than you might receive if you started your claim with “I’m right about this, so here’s how it is…”

On the other hand, leading someone’s thinking with anything other than fact, is to lead them to a conclusion that may not fully align with reality, and that always has the potential for disaster. For example, if you need to motivate someone to action and use “guilt” as an appeal to emotion to accomplish this, your audience may recognize your attempt at manipulation, see use as untrustworthy and illogical (undermining Logos and Pathos), and be motivated in the opposite direction you intended.

Another example would be to persuade someone to think the way you do using credibility, rather than fact. You could pull out a long list of examples where you did well in a certain capacity or point to your college degrees on the wall, but at the end of the day, if you’re operating with a mindset of “how can I get someone to do this” instead of critically evaluating the facts with all parties, you aren’t working with the right criteria for success.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

Make Time for eProcurement

July 20th, 2017

I know... we're all very busy.

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Director of Sales, North America at SafeSourcing

Reducing spend is important. It’s actually among the most important and impactful methods to improve your company’s bottom line. In most industries, you’ll be hard pressed to generate the same effect through any other means. New stores, new accounts, improved processes, and more all have merit. The fact is, reducing spend while maintaining quality can create a one-to-one savings to bottom line improvement opportunity. Where else are you getting results like that?

So, reducing spend is a top priority. But, is it the most urgent priority? Right now? Chances are you have something going on that cannot wait. Maybe you have a fire that needs to be put out before you can tackle the job of reducing the cost of the floor tile for your upcoming new stores. Maybe that’s a literal fire that needs to be put out. It happens.

At the end of the day though, we have to make time to focus on reducing our spend. One way to handle this is to improve efficiency by working with a partner, such as SafeSourcing, to increase the number of eProcurement projects that you complete in a given time period. Let somebody work on your behalf by delegating responsibly. Then, instead of one project per month, you can easily achieve three. Your input will still be required, but your time commitment will be greatly reduced.

So put out that fire and let us focus on the details so you can realize the savings. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

 

Technology in Sales

July 18th, 2017

Technology is the keystone to sales success.

 

Today’s Post is by Eli Razov, SafeSourcing  Account Manager.

Technology is the keystone to sales success. In this day and age, we have the world at our fingertips. From pinpointing a certain location, to finding a company’s profile, the internet has our back. In sales, product knowledge is needed, but there are a lot of other things just as important. For example, knowing the indexes for certain commodities, knowing your target market, and knowing how to approach your target. Every salesperson should have tools and know how to use them. No I do not mean a wrench and hammer. What I mean is a way to keep track of your customers, reach out to potential and new customers, as well as let them reach you. Everyone should know how to use a spreadsheet or write or a power point. But there is more than that. Here is what I believe to be the top 5 tools in every salespersons tool bag.

Salesforce

  1. Keep Track of current and potential clients
  2. Set appointments and reminders with easy to use User Interface
  3. Perfectly Portable with mobile application

LinkedIN

  1. This is a fantastic way to view your clients
  2. Find companies using keywords or specific search protocols
  3. Networking is key

Clearbit Connect

  1. Integrates with Gmail
  2. Easily search for people and emails
  3. Upgrades current contacts with full company details and roles

Zapier

  1. Links over 500 apps for seamless integrations in  the sales process
  2. Set personalized events from receiving emails to the next action
  3. Simple fill in the blank setup

YesWare

  1. Instantly see when messages are opened
  2. Includes tools like email templates, send later, reminders and more
  3. Integrates with all top email providers including Gmail and Outlook

Of course any tool is only as good as the person who uses it. So learn to use your tools. There are always online videos and seminars, not to mention each one of the applications listed have a great training staff always on standby to help with simple questions. There are tons of tools and applications out there not to mention cellphones and the internet. Staying up to date with technology is beneficial to all salespeople. Selling is all about efficiency, from product knowledge to customer relations. Know who, what, when, where, and of course why, because if you don’t your competitor will.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcingRepresentative we have an entire team waiting to assist you today

 

Here is some Lasik for retail e-procurement professionals in order to create better focus.

July 17th, 2017

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone. I can see all obstacles in my way”. The lyrics from the 1972 song by Johnny Nash titled “I can see clearly now” should be the mantra for enlightened e-procurement professionals.

 

Here’s and old post that continues to have merit with a link to another resource from FitSmallBusiness.com

Very often this author gets the question as to where to start in the e-procurement process. Too often I read that one needs to do a detailed discovery. The question is of what and how to get to the right place the quickest. So here is some Lasik for you that will help you see a little more clearly.

Using another idiom, and with renewed focus we hope to make it possible to see the forest for the trees by not focusing on excessive detail that is not needed yet.

There are four areas where you should begin your search for an e-procurement starting point and they are pretty simple.

1. Gross Sales
2. Cost of Goods Sold
3. Gross Margin
4. EBITDA.

This is really to say that if you take a look at your top line or Gross Sales and your bottom line or EBITDA and they are out of whack relative to your plan or industry averages you need to look at the above the gross margin line or Cost of Goods Sold or below the gross margin line which is expense related items for as an e-procurement focal point..

As such a couple of terms whose definitions you should be aware of are as follows.

According to two separate sources, Wikipedia and FitSmallBusiness.com  Cost of Goods Sold or COGS is a financial accounting  term which includes the direct costs attributable to the production or procurement of the goods sold by a company. This amount  can include the materials cost used in creating the goods along with the direct labor costs used to produce the m. It excludes indirect expenses such as distribution costs and sales force costs. COGS appear on the income statement and can be deducted from revenue to calculate a company’s gross margin.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization or EBITDA which is an approximate measure of a company’s operating cash flow based on data from the company’s income statement. EBITDA is calculated by looking at earnings before the deduction of interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Based on the above a lot is determined by who built you annual plan and how realistic it was to begin with.

Tomorrow we will review what underperforming these measure means and how it should point you in the direction as to where to begin your e-procurement focus.

We look forward to and appreciate you comments.

The Power of Teamwork

July 13th, 2017

It’s time to realize the strength we have when really working as a team.

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Manager of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing.

Summer is no doubt the time for vacations, relaxation, and enjoying some sun and surf on a beautiful day. Recently, I read an article about some vacationers in Panama City Beach, FL who were trying to do just that. The problem, though, was there was a strong and large riptide at the beach that particular day.

If you aren’t aware, a riptide or rip currant is “a strong, offshore current that is caused by the tide pulling water through an inlet along a barrier beach.” In other words, stepping into a riptide can be very bad and it can pull you far out into the ocean. The currants are so strong that even the strongest swimmers struggle and often are lost because of exhaustion.

Unfortunately on this particular day in Florida, there were no lifeguards on duty at the beach, but very fortunately, there were a lot of people there and they were all willing to help. It began with a few people being pulled out far away from the shore and others trying to swim out and rescue them, unsuccessfully, and being stranded themselves. At one point, there were 12 people stranded in the rip currant, desperately needing help. This is where teamwork, camaraderie, and strength in working together are truly realized. Beachgoers on the shore, lacking any kind of rescue equipment, began forming a human chain. Dozens of them, with arms and legs locked together, created a chain long and strong enough to reach and rescue all of the stranded swimmers. These brave people who worked together to save the swimmers did not know each other and had very limited time to act. Those actions worked and lives were saved. If total strangers can come together in such an amazing way, with very little time and without all the tools they would want, imagine what the teamwork your organization is capable of. While great feats like this do not happen as often as we all could hope, we should realize that it is possible for a group to come together and accomplish great things.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can come together and help each other, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

References ————————————————————

Story

Definition

 

If you can improve profitability 73%, Why don’t more companies use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

July 12th, 2017

Let’s review exactly what a reverse auction is, how simple they are to use and the potential financial benefits?

 

Todays post is from Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Todays reverse auctions are web/cloud based  Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings that are part of very sophisticated procure to pay applications that let retailers and other companies find the best suppliers for any resale or not for resale product or service they wish to source.  Using a web based reverse auction tool, retailers, other companies or groups of companies (Group Purchasing Organizations) can invite far more suppliers to take place in reverse auctions than they could possibly find or manage using traditional sourcing methodologies. During the reverse auction event they can review on one page all responses from suppliers, data about suppliers, notes from suppliers, product specifications and other necessary information at an instant. Upon auction conclusion which is typically less than 30 minutes retailers and other companies can review savings scenarios and award business from their desktop.

Now let’s get to the simple financial benefits. Let’s assume a $150M Retail Company with industry average earnings of one percent or $1.5M. Additionally cost of goods for this company is 70 percent or $105M. Let’s also assume this company were to only source ten percent of their for resale or above the gross margin line spend or roughly $11M. With below industry average savings of ten percent, total savings generated would be $1.1M which is a direct impact to net profitability. If all other segments of the P&L perform to plan and all savings are recovered during the same business calendar year net profitability would increase to $2.6M or a 73% improvement.

Wen company’s  can begin almost immediately (SaaS/Cloud offering) with no risk (Cost Neutral Pilots)  and no IT involvement,why don’t more companies use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools? That’s a great question!

If this author were you, I just could not ignore this type of opportunity. If you’d like to learn more, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Copy That!

July 11th, 2017

Where do you keep your files?

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Manager of HR and Administration at Safesourcing

Have you ever been looking for a document and weren’t sure where you put it? Finding a necessary file or any kind of document can be daunting, especially if you haven’t needed it in quite some time. Whether it is your pet’s proof of vaccination or the warranty on your refrigerator, organizing and copying your important files is essential to ensure they are always available.

If you have ever lost a file or simply could not find it again, you probably know how important it is to organize and copy your files. If you ever ask a professional writer about where they keep their written work, you’ll likely hear that they will keep multiple versions of any work in at least three separate places. The reason for this is simple. The more places a document is stored, the better the odds that if a device is damaged, a server is down, or a file is corrupted, altered, or deleted that the file is not lost entirely.

Ultimately, the best place to store your documents is everywhere you can. Zip drives and portable hard drives are useful storage because they can hold a large amount of data and can easily be plugged into other computers and accessed. The downside is that if a file is accidently deleted, that file is gone forever. Saving files directly on your computer is beneficial because it allows easy access and often auto saves your progress when editing. However, files can become corrupted and computers can crash, leaving you without your files. One of the best places to save your files is within a cloud. This allows for access from anywhere with an internet connection (and your login credentials).

Cloud based file storage systems, like SafeSourcing’s SafeDocument™, allows for multiple versions to be saved as well as easy key word searching. Files are saved in the cloud, so they can be accessed from any computer with internet, yet are secure and safe. Copying your files into a safe and secure location can prevent future loss and problems accessing and finding a file you need.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with file storage, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

Sourcing Corrugated Boxes

July 7th, 2017

A common expense often overlooked

 

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

When companies are looking to save money, they often look in places that have the largest spend, but also the greatest fixed costs. Sometimes the most commonly used items represent the best opportunity to compress spend. In today’s case, we are going to look at Corrugated Boxes. Don’t be fooled though by this deceptively simple item. If you aren’t intimately familiar with what your company buys today, especially if you have multiple Distribution Centers, developing a new RFP can get complicated quickly. Here are a few specification considerations to understand about this category that might save you some frustration before you get too far into the project:

Dimensions (Inside or outside?): Sometimes your invoices will give you measurements different than what you would measure yourself simply because the invoice gives interior measurements and you are measuring the outside. Make sure you indicate whether your specified sizes are interior or exterior. Also make sure you are consolidating box sizes where you can. If DC1 uses the exact box DC2 uses with a 1/16th inch difference, is there a good reason? You might be able to save a lot of expense by getting your DC’s all on the same program with a limited variety of box types.

Grade: The most commonly used measurement of corrugate strength is the Edge Crush Test (ETC). For example, an ETC of 32 would mean a box could withstand a maximum load of 40 lbs. Suppliers would need to know this requirement in order to gauge how to construct the box in terms of its flute size, number of walls, etc.

Coatings: Your intended use will determine the type of coating requirement you will have. For instance, food safe boxes may require non-stick surface coating, and boxes with marketing information may be colored white with logo printing. But for basic usage to fulfill your supply chain and distribution needs, the unaltered brown standard color is the cheapest, and the term for it is “Kraft”.

Printing: A print design can be both functional, or marketing related. Meaning, you may need certain marks for optical machine box loading, barcodes for tracking, or simply logos for easy retail identification. Either way, you will likely want to provide detailed drawings and artwork along with dimensions, and precise color in order to end up with what you intended.

The Usual Suspects: All of the typical concerns within any given sourcing project still apply, such as:

  • Shipping terms: If delivered to multiple DC’s, you’ll probably want separate quotes per location. However, if you don’t need delivered pricing, obtaining FOB quotes can save you a lot of headaches.
  •  Volume: Unit of measure, lead time, delivery schedule, must be indicated, and under the correct annual multiplier.
  •  Current cost: Is it inclusive of any promotional allowances, taxes, freight, etc and are you asking for quotes to include all of the same factors for accurate comparison?
  • Always run through a sample process before approving a large production run. A mountain of useless boxes would ruin anyone’s day.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

How to Survive The Psychology of The Grocery Store

July 6th, 2017

Don't let yourself be manipulated when you shop!

 

Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant, SafeSourcing.

Running into the local Kroger or Safeway for a quart of milk and coming out with a cartload of unintended food purchases is universal—and it’s not our fault. Supermarkets make us do it, or at least they try. Grocery shopping is an orchestrated process. Every feature of the store—from floor plan and shelf layout to lighting, music, and ladies in aprons offering free sausages on sticks—is designed to lure us in, and seduce us into spending money. Once you enter a grocery store, it’s often not easy to get out again. A common feature of supermarkets is the one-way entry door; to get back out, you’re compelled to walk through a good portion of the store. After the one-way front door, the feature first displayed is the produce department. The impact of all those scents, textures, and colors (think fat tomatoes, glossy eggplants, luscious strawberries) makes us feel both upbeat and hungry. Also the store bakery is usually near the entrance, with its smell of fresh-baked bread; as is the flower shop, with its buckets of tulips, and bouquets gorgeous flowers. The message we get right off the bat is that the store is a welcoming place.

The cruel truth is that the produce department is less garden and kitchen than stage set. Lighting is chosen to make fruits and veggies appear at their brightest and best; and – according to Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy—the sprays of fresh water over the produce bins are all for show. Though used to give fresh foods a deceptive dewy and fresh-picked look, the water actually has no real purpose. It actually makes vegetables spoil faster.A classic of this kind of customer manipulation, Lindstrom points out, is the banana—still America’s favorite fruit—whose signature ripe yellow is actually the result of painstaking marketing analyses. Sales records indicated the customers bought more bananas if their peels were Pantone color 12-0752 (Buttercup) rather than the slightly brighter Pantone color 13-0858 (Vibrant Yellow). Banana growers responded by planting their crops under conditions tailored to produce Buttercup.”1

The supermarket is designed to make customers spend as much time as possible in the store. Dairy departments are almost always located as far from the entrance as possible.   Customers will most likely have at least one dairy item on their list which will make them walk the length of the store. Mid-aisle positioning is intended to sideline the so-called Boomerang Effect, in which some shoppers (notably men) simply head for the item they need, then return the way they came.

“Music encourages us to dawdle: A famous study of background music and supermarket shoppers, conducted in 1982, found that people spent 34 percent more time shopping, with a corresponding uptick in sales, in stores that played music. And supermarkets tend to be devoid of external time cues: most have no windows or skylights, and shoppers are often hard-pressed to find a clock.

The theory is the longer you stay in the store, the more stuff you’ll see, and the more stuff you see, the more you’ll buy. The average supermarket carries approximately 44,000 different items. “According to brain-scan experiments conducted by Paul Mullins and colleagues of Bangor University, Wales, the demands of so much decision-making quickly become too much for us. After about 40 minutes of shopping, most people stop struggling to be rationally selective, and instead began shopping emotionally—which is the point at which we accumulate the 50 percent of stuff in our cart that we never intended buying.”2

Shelf order is a psychological trap. The expensive items are generally placed at eye level; generic brands are on the lower shelves so that you have to crouch. Foods meant to appeal to kids are set at kids’ eye level so that the cartoon characters on the boxes make eye contact with (short) passers-by.

The displays at the ends of the aisles (end caps) are shopper traps. Companies pay high prices to display their products there.  A product at an end cap sells eight times faster than the same product shelved elsewhere on the aisle. Also the size of our shopping carts increases the chance of our buying more. Carts have tripled in size, and they’re still growing. Shoppers tend to buy 40 percent more with a bigger cart. So what to do about all this? Make a list and stick to it. Try not to shop so often—fewer and more efficient trips to the store are easier on the pocketbook.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

References——————————————-

1, 2.   Rebecca Rupp, The Plate, 6/15/2015