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Harnessing Big Data for the Service Parts Industry

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February 22, 2013- 

By Sean Duclaux

Even in a tough economy, organisations still face the same challenge each year: hitting bigger quotas.

For service parts manufacturers and distributors dealing with multiple channels, thousands of customers and millions of products, achieving sales growth can be like finding that proverbial needle in the haystack.

Then there are additional forces to contend with, such as fending off aggressive competitors, negotiating with sophisticated procurement departments, managing rebates and discounts, and keeping up with raw material cost changes.

This complexity keeps company leaders up at night, wondering where next year’s sales growth is going to come from. Many high-performing service parts organisations are realising that the answers aren’t found with simple rule-of-thumb pricing or gut instinct.

The answers lie in effectively using the swathes of big data that these companies already have.

Cutting Through Complexity

Big data solutions unlock the insights buried within operational and transactional data so that companies can improve win rates, leave less money on the table and create more effective selling capacity.

Service parts companies typically possess plenty of data from multiple sources that can be used to see where and why sales prices are achieved and deals won:

  • Products– cost, monthly volumes, product hierarchy, lifecycle stage
  • Customers– geography, size, industry
  • Transactions, invoices and rebates– date, price, cost, discount, salesperson, quantity, unit of measure
  • Social Selling– influential decision-makers, referrals, partners, associations

By mining this torrent of digital data with automated sales effectiveness solutions, companies are able to understand their customers’ buying patterns based on real-time data science and analytics.

Syncing Pricing With Sales

This intelligence can be passed in real time to sales teams where they can access critical information and use it as part of their work with customers.

Areas where this information can be called upon include active sales leads, pending work items, email, alerts, price approvals, work documents and the customer relationship management pipeline;all delivered in familiar user interfaces that have been tailored to specific business roles.

For example, to coach their teams and drive performance, sales executives can access charts to reign in over-discounting and identify underperforming accounts. They can quickly drill down into transaction data by customer, product or sales region to identify hidden sales opportunities ranked by the greatest potential impact on their business strategies.

Meanwhile, salespeople can initiate price and quote requests, and receive scientifically generated price recommendations with suggested cross-sell and up-sell recommendations based on what similar customers are buying.

What’s more, since the process can be automated, they no longer have to juggle multiple spreadsheets or worry whether they have the most updated prices.

One of the big benefits of using big data is to link different groups within organisations such as pricing and sales. Let’s face it: internal teams often operate in their own silos. For example, consider a pricing manager who sets a strategy to improve margins by 15 percent on a particular product category, only to have a salesperson use rebates or discounts to unknowingly erase all of the gain.

Driving Results

These are exactly the kind of capabilities that service parts companies such as CumminsMOPAR and most recently, O’Reilly, are tackling with PROS big data solutions.

Many companies want to turn their data into something actionable – whether it’s identifying market opportunities, understanding the true impact of promotions and concessions, or targeting prices, volume and product mix – so  their sales teams can better serve their customers at the point of negotiations.

By leveraging the power of informed pricing, coupled with familiar and easy-to-use tools, sales teams are able to drive improved financial performance and more fully realise their company’s market potential.

About Sean Duclaux

Sean Duclaux serves as PROS Service Parts Industry Marketing Manager, responsible for the development of the company’s go-to-market strategy, and positioning of its Service Parts pricing and revenue management product portfolio.

Prior to joining PROS, Duclaux held leadership positions in enterprise software companies, including AspenTech, BMC Software and Empirix. Throughout his career, he has worked in diverse roles, from product management, marketing, program management, R&D and operations, where he developed a strategic vision to define market-focused solutions and executed go-to-market programs.

Duclaux earned an MBA from the University of Houston; an MS in computer science from the University of New Orleans and a BS from Spring Hill College.

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