Got Reports? Don’t Forget to Focus on the Smaller Opportunities

The human brain seems wired to find negative things. It’s apparently a throwback to evolution. We had to be more focused on being careful not to get eaten than we did on smelling the roses, so that’s what we concentrate on. But this instinct can create problems, too. Like when we only look for problems in sales and distribution reports, we can miss some great smaller opportunities.

Sure, exception reports are great. They call out the errors and issues that need to be addressed ASAP. Without them we might not recognize that our displays are being neglected, out-of-stocks are up, or certain UPCs aren’t moving. And those—like information that a saber-toothed tiger is in the bushes—are crucial bits of information.

But reports also tell us other important things that might be too subtle to be included in the exception report.

When small changes occur such as a team member increasing their sales from being in 5th place to 3rd or an SKU dropping in popularity from 6 to 10 there’s usually a good reason why and by identifying it quickly, teams can learn whats working and what’s not at retail.

If you don’t take the time to notice and act on the smaller positives and negatives, you can’t achieve those important quick wins. What is it, for example, about the high-performing display that makes it work so well? Are there elements you could build into future displays?

What can you take away that will help you replicate what works?

Reward Hard Workers

When something goes wrong, we almost always look to see who screwed up. But when things go right it’s easy to forget to look for the person responsible, ask them how they did it and reward their efforts. Often we envision a successful campaign and if it goes well we are satisfied and look no further. It could be that you have a stellar salesperson who has forged an exceptional relationship with retailers and that’s worth rewarding and—if possible—expanding. It could be that the retailer has implemented a new program or strategy that’s working better than standard models. Whatever the situation, opportunities abound to build on strengths. Remember, a SWOT analysis includes Strengths and Opportunities as well as Weaknesses and Threats and no analysis is complete without all four.

Manage the Good and the Bad

You probably have a plan for managing problems. Do you have one for managing successes? Without a strategy, you might wind up ignoring a good effort or handing out a lackluster recognition that doesn’t inspire future great efforts.

It’s important to have a plan for tracking and rewarding excellent sales performance or store compliance in a way that’s already part of your operations. Then be consistent in responding. If you do, you may find you’re generating noticeably more positive results.

Remember, most successful training programs focus on rewards rather than punishments, and recognition of efforts along the way. Think of your sales reports not just as a list of problems to solve but data to continue to build on what’s already working well. Everybody needs some time to smell the roses.

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies understands the power of innovation but also its limitations. Attending Salve Regina in New England, starting his career in Silicon Valley, and now living in Austin, Texas; Seth provides a unique tech perspective to a complex CPG and Retail Grocery Industry that is in constant disruption.

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