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Minimizing Lost Sales in an Age of Supply Chain Disruptions


How digital sales enablement can help mitigate ongoing supply chain issues

Foodservice supply chains are still lumpy nearly three years after the start of the COVID pandemic. In the meantime, digital sales enablement continues its onward march, and can help smooth out some of the bumps. Below we discuss how.

Supply chain landscape still uneven

As at the end of 2022 there were a number of challenges continuing to face the food shipping industry, with the primary ones being labor and talent management, transport capacity issues, and supply and demand planning disruptions. Port delays and congestion continue. Obviously the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent oil and gas price increases impacted agricultural production and transportation, particularly for wheat, corn, sunflower oil, phosphates and potash.

Supply chain issues and up to tenfold increases in shipping charges have increased food costs such as on chicken, corn and salmon which need to be passed onto consumers. With consumer behavior in returning to restaurants and cafes gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, so increases demand. And even when ingredients are available, packaging may not be if packaging materials are coming from overseas.

The pandemic has exposed a number of flaws in global supply chains resulting in the need for better food shipping traceability and improved communication between food supply chain partners.

Shortages and delayed stock arrivals leads to dissatisfied customers at a number of levels in the food chain, from restaurants to end consumers. Sellers may struggle to provide customers with sufficient information to ensure lost sales don’t turn into lost customers now and in the future, if they are unable to deliver on promises made by sales and marketing teams.

Sales teams need to be able to manage communication with customers to prevent lost sales and damage to the brand. A delayed sale is better than a lost one.

Digital sales enablement and the link to supply chain management

Sales enablement is typically a means of efficiently and effectively supporting sales teams to build sales opportunities, identifying gaps, understanding the marketplace and ultimately increasing revenue. It includes processes, technology, content and training and reduces sales team reporting time by moving away from manual spreadsheets in different parts of the business to a central visible platform containing a series of dashboards and notifications.

From a supply standpoint, digital retail sales enablement platforms improve the often disconnected communication between brands, sales teams, and customers. They enable brands to provide their sales teams and customers accurate, often real-time information about stock shortages and wait times. A side benefit is through access to brand materials via the platform, sellers can become brand advocates actively persuading customers that a delayed product is worth the wait.

Digital sales enablement (DSE) platforms mean that brands can provide sellers with the latest materials and information in order to sell stock that has been delayed or turned up later than forecast. Often this means pitching it differently to customers, particularly for heavily seasonal products. A seller able to tell a customer when the next expected shipment of an out of stock product will occur is much less likely to lose the sale, and provides a better customer experience, than a seller who simply says they don’t know when it will next be in stock. Due to real-time data across the supply chain, digital sales enablement thus minimizes the chances of under or overcommitment to delivery times.

When combined with a CRM pre-loaded with foodservice customer data, DSE enables customer mapping for just-in-time performance insights and enables sales forecast adjustments. Sales teams can see real-time information on mobile apps without having to be in front of a laptop, meaning they can spend more time communicating with and updating customers on deliveries and stock availability. And different views can be provided in different formats for different teams. Blacksmith’s digital sales enablement client Pilgrim’s, for instance, can now see information by timeframes, growth, purchases, pace and benchmarks, and budget.

For Pilgrim’s, at the core of implementing sales enablement software was the ability to help the sales team be more effective through utilizing on-demand insights for a better understanding of customer’s businesses. With more insights, the team can take better care of their customers and drive growth for the brand.

Brands may not be able to control all elements of the supply chain, but digital sales enablement platforms allow better management of issues and complexities arising, thereby improving damage control and minimizing lost sales.

To learn more about Blacksmith’s Sales Enablement tool, click here.