Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Maybe you’ve already solved some huge company challenges like creating a compelling brand, or developing products your consumers love – but in the business world, there’s always fat to trim and processes to improve upon. Operational problems and inefficiencies will always exist in some form or another, but it’s all about getting to the root of the problem.
Keep reading below to see if these five common snags are costing your business precious efficiency.
A Freewheeling Sales Department
Depending on what you sell and to whom, your sales department could function in any number of ways. You could have a bunch of senior guys working to win big accounts over time or you could have a room full of eager youngsters pounding the phones for the next promising lead. However, in any environment, you need to make sure you have a handle on your sales team.
A common problem plaguing organizations of all sizes is when sales people go “rogue.” Instead of pitches and pricing communicated uniformly across the board, suddenly every pitch is completely different, and pricing comes down to the particular negotiation between the salesperson and potential client. Non-uniform sales processes can hurt your organization by overpromising to clients, leave you less margin for profits, and in general creates a case-by-case basis of promises and expectations your company will ultimately have to live up to in order to keep that client’s business. Every step of the sales process, from initial reach out to getting that SOW signed, should be formulaic. Don’t give your sales team the liberty to waver on pricing or customize orders at their discretion.
Poor Inventory and Order Management Insight
Sales people work on commission, thus it’s understandable they can at times be blinded in trying to close a deal, so much so that they sell inventory without confirming the order can be fulfilled. Develop a system in place so that your sales team always knows an accurate count of in-stock product. This will help avoid backorders and annoying your customer with a delay in shipping they were never told about.
One effective way to eliminate miscommunications is to employ a order to cash software system offered by providers like Kenandy. Instead of selling product hoping it’s in stock or that the latest inventory spreadsheet is correct, you’ll have a real-time comprehensive solution giving you insight on current inventory, production schedules and estimated shipping fulfillment. Your sales people get to sell stuff they’ll actually make timely commission on and your customers won’t be misled. When your order management system isn’t automated, minor (or major) kinks will pop up throughout the cycle, leading to delayed billing and an unsteady cash flow.
Operations in Silos
A well-oiled business doesn’t operate in silos. Your sales team should know what’s going on in the warehouse just as your marketing team should be well aware of how your sales team is communicating to prospective clients. When information is free flowing and accessible to all less mistakes are made and priorities become aligned. Instead of department heads and managers fighting over their respective agendas, all teams can come together for the betterment of the company. If your company is stuck in the silo muck, consider taking a look at your leadership team to see if an ego or two is getting in the way of unified productivity. When there’s transparency and agreed-upon goals among the various departments of your business, employees spend less time cross checking different platforms and talking in circles about issues with no clear solution in sight.
Too Much Email
Even if you consider yourself to be a light email user, you’re still probably using it too much. Email, while fast and convenient, is dangerous in being too fast and convenient: when we’re curious about something we rifle off an email instead of having a two-minute chat with the person of interest. Rex Huppke wrote in a Chicago Tribune piece last year that, “with email, consider how many times the tone of a note has been misinterpreted. Or how a simple question has led to a lengthy back-and-froth of additional questions and clarifications.” This is the reality plaguing organizations of all sizes across the globe.
According to a survey from WorkFront and conducted by Harris Poll, U.S. employees spend about 15 percent of their work week in email. While that number doesn’t jump out as excessive, that’s not even factoring in-person meetings and other administrative tasks. Even widespread remote teams could lay off the email, turning to video conferencing services that get both parties in front of each other to solve issues instead of relying on ambiguous email exchanges. Having a daily SCRUM or weekly status meeting with your team never hurts to clear up confusion and eliminate trickling emails throughout the week either – just be sure to keep the conversation on track.
Too Many Meetings
We’re overly reliant with meetings just as we are with email. The same Harris poll referenced above found that employees spend an astounding 40 percent of their work week in meetings. With so much room allocated toward discussion, how’s any work supposed to get done? When the time spent emailing and conducting meetings are combined, it equates to half the hours in a work week. That leaves only 45 percent of weekly work hours for actual job duties, and that’s not even factoring in breaks and time spent switching between tasks! What’s worse is many meeting fanatics sandwich half hour or hour blocks in between meetings so they can refocus their energy, leaving your workday idle amidst discussions that may or may not have been productive. According to research from a study conducted by the University of California Irvine, it takes workers 25 minutes to refocus after they’ve been interrupted by something. Think about that the next time you get dragged away to another meeting.