What’s Really Holding You Back?

You have a great product, an excellent team, great customers – yet, despite all that, you’re not getting ‘there’. You’re not thriving like you should be. It takes weeks (sometimes, months) to close out your reporting periods (by then it’s too late to correct your course). There is rampant inefficiency within your organizations. Entire departments are being run on spreadsheets and one-off systems. Worse yet, you lack the timely, reliable and relevant analytics you need to make good decisions.

Is it unreasonable to expect efficiency, connectivity and actionable information? Definitely not! While it’s easy to chalk it up to “it is what it is,” it doesn’t have to be this way.

There is an old saying, “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” That same logic applies here too! As leaders, we’ll spend tens of thousands on manufacturing equipment, forklifts, refrigerators, freezers, trucks, staff, tradeshows, and travel; yet we run our businesses on outdated, non-integrated, sub-par software. It makes no sense.

It’s just that Business Management Software isn’t sexy.

When is the last time someone tweeted about how their new ERP system allowed them to increase sales, reduce costs and better service their customers? Why not? Because it’s not sexy.

Despite its mind-blowing efficiency, no one gets excited about integrating their business functions into one unified solution. Even with the dramatic cost reduction, no one is pumped up about reducing the double entry their staff is doing every day. While it ensures growth, no one jumps for joy when they hear about real-time financial reporting and business analytics.

Call me crazy, but if running efficiently, knowing what’s happening in your business in real time, and decreasing costs isn’t sexy; then I don’t know what sexy is!

You owe it to yourself and your staff.

Want to see a brief video that helps explain all of this? Click here!

Want to chat? Fill out the form below or give us a call.

by David Williams | www.LinkedIn.com/in/RetailDave | (813) 321-1300

Should We Just Agree to Disagree?

A wise man, while defending his position in a disagreement with the company’s CEO, once said, “If no one is comfortable disagreeing, there’s a pretty good chance that decision is wrong.  If we’re willing to object and disagree until we can all reach alignment, our odds of being right go up dramatically.”  That wise man was, well, me.

OK fine… maybe I’m not all that wise (just ask my wife), but I am a big fan of decisions based on data.  Don’t get me wrong, intuition and experience are essential — arguably, critical! However, without good, reliable, timely data, we’re doomed to hoping and guessing.

In order to utilize data, we first need to dig into what information would be useful in decision-making. That’s why it’s important to encourage a culture of respectful disagreement. That doesn’t mean someone needs to object to everything, just because they can; it does mean that when someone feels there is a different perspective that needs to be explored, they should feel comfortable voicing it.

So many managers profess to “not being micro-managers,” but instead micro-manage by not providing an environment where disagreements are welcome.  Those same managers seldom take responsibility when a plan goes bad.

Take it a step further and ask for an opposing view or perspective. Have someone play the role of Devil’s Advocate once in a while. If no one can, you’re likely heading in the right direction. Better yet, if someone comes up with an alternative, discuss it and make your decision with the opposing view in mind.

But, in all cases, unless you’re trying to decide on where to have lunch, make sure you’re leveraging all the data available to you (even picking a restaurant will be better if you reference the menu, hours and maybe even current traffic conditions).

If you don’t feel you have the COMPREHENSIVE, RELIABLE, and TIMELY data you need to make good decisions — talk to me.  If you don’t know what data you’re missing – talk to me.  Your Business Management Software should be providing you all that data in real-time.  If it’s not, you need to address it – now (and I’d love to hear the opposing view on that).

Years ago, Business Management Software (previously called ERP) was expensive and difficult to implement – not anymore.  Remember how difficult it used to be to program a VCR, activate a new cell phone, edit a video?  Times have changed.

We help natural product suppliers and distributors from startups to very mature, large businesses. Visit www.CornerstoneForNatural.com to see what you’re missing.

by David Williams | www.LinkedIn.com/in/RetailDave | (813) 321-1300

Stop Telling Me How Busy You Are!

Call any business contact and ask them how they’re doing, and you almost always hear the same thing: “I’m good, but b-u-s-y.”  Our culture has gone so far as to come up with phrases around the concept…“Busy, busy, busy,” “busy as hell,” “busier than a one-handed paper hanger,” “so busy, I haven’t been to the restroom all morning.”  The list goes on… and I’ve been guilty of this for years.

Why do we insist on telling people how busy we are? Why is being busy seen as a sign of success?

The truth is, it isn’t.

“Busy” is a sign of something, but it’s not success. It’s a sign of poor planning, poor time management, poor staffing, bad culture, or inefficiency.

We’re focusing on all the wrong things. We’re not busy; we’re wasting time.

Do you feel like you’re always busy? Ask yourself why. Odds are, with some introspective insight, you’ll identify the culprit. After all, leaders of multinational conglomerates can find some flexibility in their schedules… and so should you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, as if you are the glue holding everything together in your business, maybe you’re not as efficient as you once thought.  If that’s the case, maybe we can help. Visit us at www.CornerstoneForNatural.com and learn how we help our clients Simplify Their Lives, Sell More Products and Have More Fun.  (Unless, of course, you just like being busy!)

And even if you are busy, stop telling everybody! Not only are you bragging about being inefficient, you’re also telling them you don’t have time for them. They’ll feel put-off by you, and you’ll both lose.

I get it… sometimes you really don’t have time for someone. That’s fine. You can tell them you are walking into a meeting, or needing to handle a call, or working on a short deadline. But, when you begin every call by telling everyone how busy you are, you train callers to not call you. Business is built on relationships; don’t teach yours to leave you alone.

Then again, if you’re just trying to get some knucklehead off the phone because you just don’t want to talk to them; then stick with, “busy, busy, busy.”  Or, better yet, send that call to voicemail.

by David Williams | www.LinkedIn.com/in/RetailDave | (813) 321-1300

Never Hire a Salesperson Who Could (or Would) Sell Ice Cubes to Eskimos!

“You know Dave, he could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo!”

I used to think this was a compliment (and it may have been meant to be one). Maybe they thought, wow, this guy is so good at his job, he could get someone who clearly doesn’t need something to buy it.

But let’s analyze it for a minute:  Were they saying I was talented and persuasive enough to convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes?  Or, were they saying I was sneaky (some say ‘shady’) enough to convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes?  Or, were they suggesting that I was creative enough to find an Eskimo in a warm place where buying ice cubes made sense (which actually did happen to me once!)?

I really don’t think it’s much of a compliment. Selling unnecessary things to a customer is a BIG mistake! I don’t want a salesperson working for me, representing my business or product, who is willing to make a bad sale.  I want a salesperson who works hard to identify ideal prospects and then uses their sales skills to honestly, ethically and civilly close the deal. Now’s a good time to think about your comp program – make sure you’re not incentivizing these bad deals!

The best salespeople focus on building long-term relationships and staying connected to their customers long after the deal is done. Selling does not need to be sneaky, and it does not require dishonesty.  Sure, there are lots of skills (and talents) that go into good selling, but none of them should involve shame.

I remember an argument I got in with a VP of Finance years ago.  He was upset that salespeople were overcompensated for the work they did (instead of the revenue they produced).  His argument was that they were “taking the easy way out.”  Instead of convincing everyone to buy their products, they were simply finding prospects that really needed their product and then pricing it in a way that made it almost impossible to say no.  I asked, “are they producing a good margin?” His response was, “Yes, they’re ahead of plan… but if all you do is find people who need what you sell and price accordingly, why do I need salespeople?  Couldn’t anyone do that?”

My thought was (and still is) that it is a good thing he was in finance and not in sales!  That’s exactly what a good salesperson does. My customers remain customers (and friends) for life.

If you want to have an honest conversation about Business Management Software (click HERE if you don’t know what Business Management Software is), call us.  If you want scare tactics, tricks, techno-speak, games, and manipulation… call someone else.

by David Williams | www.LinkedIn.com/in/RetailDave | (813) 321-1300

Does Teamwork Really Matter?

Is teamwork really all that important? We preach it and we teach it, both to our own kids and our staffs at work. We may even drop small fortunes sending our teams on corporate retreats to have them freshen up on it. I’d bet many of you have one of those “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’” posters hanging up in your offices. But we rarely question the value of these efforts.

Is teamwork really all that important? We preach it and we teach it — to our kids and our staff. We may even drop small fortunes sending our teams on corporate retreats to have them freshen up on it. I’d bet many of you have one of those “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’” posters hanging up in your offices. But we rarely question the value of these efforts.

Is it even worth it?

The obvious answer is, of course, yes. Teamwork, at its very core, is invaluable and deserves all that we can pour into it. Unfortunately, many of us don’t practice what we preach. Sure, we want our staff to embrace teamwork and collaboration, but what about the business management systems that your teams interact with daily?

Why do we only apply the whole teamwork mindset to people and not our business management systems?

Think about it, don’t you want your Inventory Planning system to operate as a team with your Order Processing, Procurement, and Accounting systems? How about Payroll, Expense Management and Accounting? Wouldn’t it be great if all your systems operated as one lean, disciplined team? Imagine what THAT would do to your business!

With all the time and resources we spend on teaching and preaching teamwork to our teams, shouldn’t we make sure the tools they use do the same?

Imagine driving a car where the physical brakes and the brake lights didn’t operate as a team… you would undoubtedly end up in a wreck! But isn’t that what we’re doing when we ask our team-focused staff to use tools that don’t cooperate with each other? How much time do they spend overcoming that lack of teamwork? How many mistakes slip through?

Talk to us, we can help. It costs nothing to chat. If we can’t help, we’ll tell you right away.

by David Williams | www.LinkedIn.com/in/RetailDave | (813) 321-1300