Are you ready for the real trade war? There’s one thing you must do.

Are you ready for the real trade war? There’s one thing you must do.

Are you ready for the impact of the deepening china trade war?

According to experts, we are now at the “pain threshold” for widespread impact:

The next round of tariffs could be the tipping point into crisis, according to a China specialist at Europe’s biggest asset manager.

“This is where the pain threshold is,” Qinwei Wang, a senior economist at Amundi in London, said in reference to the Trump administration’s consideration of 25% duties on the remaining $300-billion or so of Chinese imports not yet affected by tariff hikes. There would be a chain reaction, “and everyone will suffer. A global recession is a real risk,” he said.

Anchalee Worrachate - Bloomberg

How can you prepare?

Manufacturers who proactively engage with their market (customers, prospects, and dealers) effectively have a key advantage: first mover. If you have the right tools and processes to address your market, you have a key sustainable advantage. If you don’t other manufacturers who can properly address customer and reseller concerns will begin to take market share from you.

Why?

The enemy of commerce is uncertainty. If your customers are unsure of how you will react to the impact of tariffs, they will go where that certainty exists. 

What you can do.

  1. Take control of the message – Use marketing (email is the least expensive) to proactively stay in touch with customers. Even your message is “nothing is changing for us at this time” – that is a positive. 
  2. Get in front of customers consistently – Don’t want for customers to ask you, get in front of each of them. Schedule out a special touchpoint for all customers and make sure you salespeople touch each customer at least once in the next month.
  3. Build an ongoing communication plan – By creating ongoing, customized communication with customers you’ll be able to stay ahead of other competitors in the messaging game. We recommend using automation to do this – segment your customers on what product/service they purchase from you and tailoring the message to them.

Need help?

Flywheel provides both automation and a sales/marketing methodology based on industry best practices to assist manufacturers in effective customer communication and engagment. 

We offer a complimentary tool to help you identify sales/marketing processes that you could streamline/automate using process maps. Learn more about this service and book a sessions here.

 

Ready to go deeper? Watch the webinar below!

 

Sales Efficiency: Cut 10% waste out of your sales process in 90 days using this method.

Sales Efficiency: Cut 10% waste out of your sales process in 90 days using this method.

Are you wasting time and money on sales? In today’s competitive climate, manufacturers need to focus on more than just streamlining production. Getting efficient and productive in sales and marketing is key to optimizing the overall business. In fact, front-office expenses account for more than 40% of the cost of operating the overall business.

That means there’s a lot to be gained by optimizing sales processes.

If you’re interested in optimizing your sales process, watch the webinar below on how another manufacturer gained a six-figure advantage in less than 90 days using “Lean” methodology and automation to achieve results.

Interested in optimizing your sales process?

Consider taking our 15-minute Sales Efficiency Assessment. It will help you identify steps in your process that could be optimized or automated.

Ready to begin?

After the assessment we’ll send you a customized 15-page report on our findings and score you vs. top performers and peers.

Eliminating Waste with a Value Stream Map (VSM)

Eliminating Waste with a Value Stream Map (VSM)

Ready to start eliminating waste in sales and marketing? Once you’ve identified high-level business goals to improve efficiency, we recommend doing a Value Stream Map.

What is a Value Stream Map (VSM)? It’s a process mapping tool used by leading manufacturers to understand how you deliver value to the customer. In Sales/Marketing, this applies to how you communicate with customers prior to the order, and during cross/upsell activities. A good Value Stream Map will help you identify specific areas of waste as outlined in the 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing. Specifically, a VSM will help you improve the following:

  • Cycle time – how much time it takes a person to complete a task.
  • Process time – how long it takes to… (deliver a quote, for example)
  • Duplication – what kinds of work/tasks are being re-done and could therefore be eliminated.
  • Accuracy – how often a task is completed 100% correctly the first time.

Here’s how a VSM is built:

Current State

Before you can eliminate waste, it’s important to clearly understand how your company currently operates. By creating a Current State Map, your team can visualize how processes are actually being performed. It’s a critical point of departure – before improvements can be measured, the current way must be understood fully.

Future State

This is the fun part – set your team free to think about how they would like to operate – free of the constraints of the systems/processes you have in place today. It’s important to set a time horizon on the future state – for example, 1 year or 3 years from now. This goal helps drive the improvement plan.

The Plan

Once you’ve identified your Future State clearly, it’s important to build a management-supported plan to eliminate waste in sales/marketing. We recommend going after the “low-hanging fruit” – processes that are currently wasteful and could be eliminated or automated. Flywheel is a tool that is often used to grab low hanging fruit and automate it – often times right out of the box.

Where should I begin?

If you’d like to do your own value stream map, there are great resources online like this one that can guide you through the process.

For many manufacturers, working with your local MEP (here in South Dakota we recommend Manufacturing Technology Solutions) to build the map with your team. There’s a lot of value in bringing someone in who has experience with the process to help guide your conversation.

Ready to start eliminating waste?

We offer a complimentary Lean Sales & Marketing Consultation to help start the conversation. Click below to schedule a time!

The 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing

The 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing

Lean can help eliminate wasteful sales & marketing spending.

Lean Manufacturing is a trusted and widespread methodology for eliminating waste in manufacturing. In fact, nearly 70% of manufacturers use Lean practices. However, if you’re like most manufacturers, Lean concepts get applied to production, but not to sales and marketing. Why is this? It’s tough to apply Lean to customer interactions without good tools and a clear methodology. The good news is things are getting much easier and eliminating waste in sales/marketing is within reach of any manufacturer.

What kind of waste should you look out for? Here’s the list – each area will look familiar – they are the same 8 Wastes of Lean, applied to sales and marketing challenges:

What are the 8 Wastes of Lean Sales & Marketing?

1 – Defects

Any time you interact with a customer with the wrong information, you are creating a defect. Whether that is a proposal with the wrong product in it due to unclear needs assessment or not delivering a message tailored to the person you’re communicating with. Every time communication defects occur, you’re leaving trust, dollars, and a strong relationship behind.

2 – Overproduction

With customer communication, more is not better. If you can collect everything you need to serve a customer well in one short needs assessment meeting and deliver a quote quickly, you’ve done well. Anytime you re-engage the customer to gather more information or clarify needs, you’ve added production time and waste.

Another form of waste here is trying to close a sale before the right information has been confirmed. Customers don’t commit to purchases or agreements unless they have everything they need to make the decision.

3 – Waiting

Effective sales and marketing initiatives operate at-the-ready and deliver information quickly and on committed timelines. Waiting for answers internally from design, production, or inventory kills momentum and slows down deals.

In addition, you should be able to “act as one” with clear lines of communication and customer information storage so you can get answers right away with no waiting.

4 – Non-Utilized Talent

This could also be titled “under-utilized talent”. Sales and marketing folks should be able to focus nearly all of their time on serving customers, not running internal manual processes, digging for information, or creating proposals. Creating simple processes that keep sales and marketing folks in front of customers and out of administrative functions is key to eliminating waste – no one wants to be in sale or marketing to do non-selling activities.

5 – Transportation

Digging through email, remembering to make calls and follow up on tasks, editing word/excel documents, and creating lead follow up spreadsheets can be a thing of the past. Good CRM and marketing software like Flywheel can eliminate transportation overhead and keep you focused on deals.

6 – Inventory

Good Lean processes and systems in Production should make delivery timeline promises solid, inventory on hand reliable, and lead times reasonable.

However, sales and marketing should hold the same standards – quote delivery should be kept to a minimum size queue with clear timelines to give customers quotes. Costs and margins should be transparent to salespeople so they can make good decisions at the time of need on pricing. Lastly, it’s important that good “Control Tower” principles are applied to sales/marketing so folks get answers quickly.

7 – Motion

Help your team become more productive by automating everything you can:

“Automation is cost cutting by tightening the corners and not cutting them.”

Haresh Sippy

Modern software can help you get more done with fewer people. For things, you can’t automate, eliminate as much duplication as you can using Value Stream Mapping. You can reduce cost and improve delivery by speeding up motion – often small adjustments in flow can have a big impact.

8 – Extra Processing

Many sales teams use many different tools to do their job – email, text messages, proposal tools, inventory management software, and many other systems.

The best way to eliminate waste here is to buy systems that connect to each other or connect the systems you have. Sales and marketing should not have to dual-enter information or deal with spreadsheets. Data re-entry cause time loss and errors. In fact, according to Harvard, bad data costs US businesses $3 trillion per year. Ouch. Not only is it a drag to ask your team to enter things twice or more, but it’s also probably costing you a lot of money.

Where to start?

Flywheel offers a complimentary Lean Sales & Marketing Consultation to find out if we can eliminate waste with our sales & marketing platform. Contact us to set up a time – we can cover the high-level overview in 60 minutes with you. Click below to book a time!

Flywheel 3.0 Released!

Flywheel 3.0 Released!

We are proud to announce Flywheel 3.0 is now available! Here’s what we work on for this release:

  1. Dropped our new “Followers” feature set to make it easier for teams to collaborate.
  2. Rolled out Dealer Lead Collaboration in our our Mobile App.
  3. Improved usability for key things you use every day – searching, filtering etc.
  4. Automated lead routing. No one wants to spend time doing this manually anymore. It’s 2018.
  5. Added a Quickbooks connector – get up and running on Flywheel in a few days!

Thanks to all of our customers for their helpful input! If you’re a current customer, your instance will be upgraded automatically tomorrow or Monday.

If you’re interested in Flywheel, we’d love to give you a tour of the new product.

Here is what we added to Flywheel:

Visual Account List View

Tired of the same bland lists?

So are we.

That’s why we added color to the Account list view to see customer health and when your last contact was.

Followers

We added the ability to “Follow” Accounts & Leads in Flywheel with a simple button! Following an Account will get you:

  • Push notifications on Flywheel Mobile on health, no activity, quotes expiring and other changes.
  • Outlook syncing – Contacts on the Account will sync automatically to Outlook (for Outlook Connector users)
  • Include in your Account/Lead list on Flywheel Mobile

We also added the ability to mass-follow Accounts for you or someone else. Followers can be used in Workflow and Reports.

Mobile Dealer Lead Collaboration

Managing leads from your phone was a start.

We’ve now added the ability to assign Leads to Dealers & Dealer Reps right from your phone, something that is super helpful for mobile sales road warriors.

Year-To-Year Sales

At a customer/dealer level, visually see how monthly sales are trending this year vs. last year.

It can be helpful to see seasonality and trends visually – something that’s hard to see in raw numbers.

Improved Search Layout

No more scrolling to find Accounts, Contacts & Leads. We improved the Web search screen to make it easier to quickly find what you are looking for.

Improved Filters

Spend less time looking for the fields you want to filter on with our new Filter layout.

In addition, we made the “Search” button sticky – no more scrolling for it.

Webforms & Lead Auto-Assignment

Flywheel 3.0 gives you the ability to auto-route leads from your website to internal and dealer reps.

Our robust workflow engine gives you control of how/when leads are distributed.

Quickbooks Connector

Flywheel now includes a Quickbooks connector that gets you up and running on Flywheel in just a few days!