UK Grocery – Food glorious profit

Food continues to be a huge and profitable business in Great  Britain. The convenience sector is very different to 20 years ago, but the fittest independents are not only surviving, they are thriving.

On average , some four fifths of UK grocery sales go through the major supermarkets. Even so, that still leaves one fifth of the cake for the independent sector, which relies on the wholesalers for its supplies, and in many grocery markets the proportion is considerably higher.

In addition there are many ethnic food and drink products that are rarely find in supermarkets.  Traditionally these see most of their consumer purchases in the independent sector in stores serving the local ethnic community, supplied by specialist wholesalers or cash ‘n’ carries with their roots in the community.

Next, there’s the speciality and fine food sector, made up of hundreds of little companies. Many of these are keen to keep their products well away from the supermarkets and favour independent grocers, even though the more enlightened multiples are doing their best to be seen to be caring and nurturing.

Another factor is the recession, which has curiously enough been good news for the independent sector. Local retailers are capturing more purchases from shoppers who used to favour the nearby supermarkets but are being more careful now about how they spend their money.

The population still in work are working harder than ever, to keep their jobs. This means longer hours and last minute shopping for that evening. Not everyone has a supermarket-owned convenience store on their doorstep.

And then there are the small but significant group of ‘anti-corporate’ consumers who protest against the might of the supermarkets by shopping locally. It’s all good news for the independent sector and the wholesalers who provide the primary link between convenience stores and product suppliers.

The number of convenience stores served by grocery wholesalers declines, the average costs of supplying these stores will rise. A tipping point might come where the closure of a certain number of convenience stores means the grocery wholesale sector is no longer economically viable. But that won’t happen any time soon.

Top Ten Problems Faced by Business

1. Uncertainty

All human beings, but it seems business leaders in particular, find great discomfort in uncertainty. Uncertainty in the global economy and the current recovery, uncertainty in the credit markets, uncertainty in how environmental regulations will affect business.  The bottom line is that uncertainty leads to a short-term focus. Companies are shying away from long-term planning in favor of a shorter-term focus with uncertainty as the excuse.  While this might feel right, we believe that a failure to strategically plan five years into the future can end up destroying value. The problem to be solved, therefore, is to balance the need for a more reactive, short-term focus with the need for informed, long-term strategies.

2. Globalization

7 of 10 Fortune 500 CEO’s cite the challenges of globalization as their top concern. Understanding foreign cultures is essential to everything from the ability to penetrate new markets with existing products and services, to designing new products and services for new customers, to recognizing emergent, disruptive competitors that only months earlier weren’t even known. The problem to be solved is to better understand international markets and cultures through better information gathering and better analysis of what it all means.

3. Innovation

Interestingly, many companies are not looking to create more innovative cultures.  At least not the big companies (Global 1000), anyway, though that changes some as companies get smaller. It seems big companies are struggling with innovation, and a better innovation process is at the top of the agenda for most CEOs, but the idea of a more innovative culture appears too frightening to many. The problem to be solved is how to become more innovative while still maintaining a sense of control over the organization.

4. Regulation

A changing regulatory environmental is always of concern in certain industries, but uncertain energy, environmental and financial policy is wreaking havoc for nearly all companies today. Whether a demand from customers or shareholders to become more “green,” or the threat of increased costs due to new carbon taxes, environmental considerations are among the biggest challenges business face today.  And we don’t need to give too much press to the current issue of financial reform and regulation, although we do have some opinions about how to prepare for that if you’re a bank or a brokerage house. The problems to be solved are to understand the meaning of regulation in your industry, its implications for your business, and to develop the skills necessary to deal with it.

5. Technology

The pace of technological improvement is running at an exponentially increasing rate.  While this has been true for several decades, the pace today makes capital investment in technology as much an asset as a handicap because a competitor can wait for the next-generation technology, which may only be a year away, then use it to achieve an advantage.  Similarly, the ability for even the best of technologists to stay informed about emerging technology is in conflict with the need to master a company’s current technology.  The problem to be solved is to develop a long-term technology strategy while remaining flexible enough to take advantage of unforeseen technology developments.

6. Diversity

A particular subset of human capital planning is found so often in our research that it is worth its own mention. Diversity brings many challenges, as it makes it far more likely that people do not agree, and the lack of agreement makes execution very difficult. At the same time, the lack of diversity among many large company leadership teams leads to a narrow view of an ever-changing and diverse world—contributing to groupthink, stale culture and a tendency to live with the status quo for too long.  The problem to be solved is to first define what diversity really means in your company, then foster the expansion of differing ideas and viewpoints while ensuring cohesion and teamwork.

7. Complexity

There’s no doubt that life and business have gotten more complex even as certain tasks and activities have become easier due to information technology. The pace of change is quickening. The global economy is becoming still more connected, creating a much larger and more diverse population of customers and suppliers. Manufacturing and services are increasingly targeted at smaller, specialized markets due to the flexibility that IT provides in these areas. We know from our knowledge of the patterns of evolution that, in reality, systems tend to become more complex as they evolve, then become simplified again. The problem is how to develop better systems-thinking capability so you can design your business models, processes, products and services in a way that minimizes complexity.

8. Information Overload

It is said that the only true constant is change, and in today’s world nothing is changing more, or growing faster, than information. Global Internet traffic amounts at 21 exabytes—21 million terabytes.. The ability of companies, much less individuals, to consume and make sense of the information that is available (and necessary) to make good decisions is becoming a nearly insurmountable challenge.  The problem to be solved is to deal with this mountain of information with both technology and human knowhow, then to convert this information into valuable knowledge.

9. Supply Chains

Because of uncertainty in demand and the need to stay lean, companies are carrying smaller inventories than ever.  At the same time, uncertainty in supply, driven by wildly changing commodity prices, an apparent increase in weather-related disruptions, and increasing competition for raw materials from the BRIC countries, makes materials planning more challenging than ever.  Smaller suppliers that can no longer get the credit they need to keep up with their larger customers’ demand exacerbates an already unwieldy situation.  The problem to be solved is to develop a supply-chain strategy that not only ensures the lowest costs, but that also minimizes the risk of crippling supply-chain disruptions.

10. Problem Solving

The lack of a sophisticated problem-solving competency among today’s business leaders is limiting their ability to adequately deal with the first nine problems.  This is why corporate managers tend to jump from one fire to another, depending on which one their executives are trying to put out, and in many cases the fast-changing; the fast-changing business environment is what ignites these fires. So what is the problem to be solved? We believe, to do well into the future, companies must resolve that problem-solving is the key to business, then develop a robust problem-solving capability at all levels.



The biggest problems of sales manager – how to deal with it ?

A survey by Proudfoot indicated that a poor salesperson spend their time as follows:

Active Selling 10%
Prospecting 10%
Problem Solving 14%
Downtime 17%
Travel Time 18%
Administration 31%

A good salesperson should ideally be allocating their time as per below (as suggested by Frank Furness:

Active Selling 35%
Prospecting 25%
Problem Solving 15%
Downtime 10%
Travel Time 10%
Administration 5%

In addition, the biggest barriers to sales people’s effectiveness were found to be:

  • Lack of manager feedback or help for sales teams
  • Poor sales call quality and inadequate monitoring
  • Weak or cumbersome sales reporting systems
  • Training that was seldom reinforced or properly coached in the field
  • Administrative duties

Also – if you are looking to assess sales people/teams – then you should consider

In most organizations, sales managers are the essential bridge between the company’s sales goals and the realization of those goals .The aspirations and strategies of the company’s management must be imprinted by the realism of the sales manager as they come down from above. It’s an incredibly important and difficult job. Certain common mistakes often arise out of this unhealthy situation

  1. Lack of a focused sales structure.– It consists of such things as:
  • the way sales territories are defined
  • the way salespeople go about their jobs
  • the way markets and customers are targeted
  • the way salespeople are compensated
  • the methods the manager uses to communicate with the salespeople
  • the expectations for the sales force
  • the training and development system of the company
  • the expectation for information collecting by the salespeople
  • the frequency and agenda for sales meetings
  • the sales tools used by the salespeople
  • and countless other such things
  1. Lack of regular and systematic direction and feedback for the salespeople. – The old saying, „Out of site, out of mind,” is too often the operational description of the typical sales manager. The salespeople are out there somewhere, doing their thing, while the tyranny of the urgent often occupy the manager’s time.
  2. Lack of an organized training and development system -No profession in the world expects the serious practitioners of that profession to figure it out by themselves. Quite the contrary. Every profession has determined some minimal acceptable course of study

While there are as many other management  problems as there are sales managers, these three are the most common. Address them, and you’ll be well on your way to outstanding success in sales management.

Introduction to sales training and selling methods, techniques, skills

The sales techniques and selling ideas have all been effective at some stage. Many are still widely used. Think about what you are selling, the market that you’re selling into, the people you meet in the selling process, and use what will help you sell better. If you are managing sales people, the best results generally come if you allow sales people to work to their strengths; in a way that is natural to them.

Successful selling also requires that the product or service is of suitable quality for its target market, and that the selling company takes good care of its customers. Therefore it’s helpful for the sales person (or anyone else in business for that matter) to work for a professional, good quality organization.

Product development, design and production, service delivery, and the  integrity of the selling company’s organization are also necessary for successful selling, and typically are outside the formal control of the sales person, hence why internal selling is an increasingly important aspect of the modern sales role.

Effective sales people are interpreters and translators (and increasingly educators too) who can enable the complex systems of the buying organisation and the selling organisation to work together for the benefit of both.