Even Sales People Fear Supply Chain Breakdowns

March 7, 2011
Sales groups are hoarding marketing materials to overcome ineffective supply chain operations

It’s a time-honored tradition that inventory managers sometimes stockpile extra supplies against the fear of parts or materials shortages, whether on the shop floor, in hospital storerooms or in MRO departments. But who would have thought even sales executives engage in the practice?

According to a study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, that’s exactly what’s happening. Lack of confidence in the marketing supply chain appears to be a major contributor to the hoarding of marketing materials by sales executives. Nearly one in two sales executives over-orders critical marketing support materials by as much as 25% per order.

The online study of 117 sales leaders reveals that while sales values the content and tools developed to enable the sales process, the provisioning system fails at the point of delivery and fulfillment as 67% of respondents admit to facing challenges in obtaining materials from their companies.

In the study, which was sponsored by solutions provider NVISION, sales executives admit that their material hoarding is in reaction to operational processes that either take too long or deliver damaged materials. While 48% of respondents believe that it is hard to get materials in time, meaning that over ordering was merely a “just in case” precaution, the majority of sales executives (64%) intentionally over-order materials in order to have the required materials on hand as the process of fulfillment takes too long.

Marketing is spending billions on the production of sales literature, premiums, merchandising items, hand-outs, signage, etc., but neglecting the process that actually gets these materials into the hands of key stakeholders, notes the CMO Council. Donovan Neale-May, the council’s executive director, believes legacy systems, cumbersome processes and quality assurance oversights are big contributors to inefficient and tardy provisioning of essential tools for sales and channel organizations.

The messages and content being developed by marketing received high praise as 41% of sales rating the content as being relevant and informative to customers. Among the top issues identified by sales in the material procurement process include:

● Materials taking too much time to be delivered (35%)
● Materials not being available in time for a product launch (29%)
● Damaged materials (13%).

One key issue stems from where and how sales executives are able to access content, as the majority of sales executives rely on email requests to a field or corporate office to request materials. However, access channels to these materials only received marginal ratings, as 42% believe the systems are hardly effective or efficient.

“Marketing is not leveraging advanced technologies and process improvement standards to ensure that the materials that are being developed are making it to the intended audiences, whether internal or external to the organization,” says Mike Perez, vice president of marketing and business development for marketing supply chain experts, NVISION. “The reality is that even the best message in the world can be negated by poor delivery. Marketers have the opportunity to further align with sales by looking at the operations of the supply chain that provision the front line with the right materials, through the right channels in a timeframe that can best impact the sales process.”

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