The title quote has always proven true. It’s impossible for anyone to know everything about what is going on in the industry. What’s coming at you? The latest trends? Better solutions to age-old problems? Many stay informed by reading publications such as this, and others broaden their knowledge by attending conferences and shows. Throughout my career, the PARCEL Forum has always had a plethora of informative speakers and information for the small-package industry. Attendees have told me they were able to save their companies millions of dollars from tips given out at the conference. Stay informed on the upcoming conference agenda by visiting PARCELForum.com for more information.
At the show, there are many ways to learn: the educational tracts that are divided by interest, the exhibit hall floor, the facility tours, the chance to connect with your peers.
Some of the simplest conversations can spark new ideas. For instance, at one of the lunches, there was a shipper who had to ship chocolate in the summer, wondering what type of packaging would preserve the product and reduce damages. At the same table, there was a meat packaging executive who shared how they keep the meat cold through transit. Ideas abound; all you must do is take advantage of them.
When consultants walk facilities, they throw out suggestions that they have seen work. The forum is your chance to talk to consultants, executives, and peers one on one. Share ideas, ask questions, and get a resource for the future. If you are too busy and can’t go this year, maybe someone in your company deserves this opportunity.
If you’re a newcomer to PARCEL Forum, make sure you attend all the events, including the first-timer event. It will be loaded with tips on how to network, gather information, and obtain the resources you are looking for.
Once you find something on the vendor exhibit floor, you’ll have to plead your case to the executives to budget the money for your purchase. Below are some tips on how to do it:
1. Know your executive and what is important.
Remember who you are presenting to so that you don’t get caught off guard. If you present it to the CFO, this person will be all about the return on investment and numbers. A CFO is going to want to see strong justification and return. Because some CFOs don’t understand supply chain lingo, make sure you present in a way that he/she can understand the information. For example, if you are presenting a PTL system for order picking, it may be beneficial to give a brief statement of the benefits and how it works before proceeding with the project details. Focus on dollars and percentages.
2. Deal in facts and proof points
Executives want to hear about valid claims on return. Saying that the system will give between 10-40% gain probably will not be accepted. They will want the numbers to be more concrete. There may be case studies similar to yours that would prove the return. Ask the vendor to partner with you on the information but ensure the information is accurate.
3. Stay high-level but have the detail if needed
Most executives do not want to hear about all the implementation or installation details. They want to know the high-level scope and return on investment, whether monetary or customer service oriented. Make sure you have the details available should questions be asked, but don’t focus the presentation on the details.
4. Introduce the problem and opportunities
Before you jump right into the project, introduce the problem. For example, “We are running out of space and if there is not a redesign within the next 12 months, we won’t be able to ship the volumes projected for this year.” Ears will definitely perk up with that introduction! Put it in terms they will understand. Once you present the problem, you can then focus on explaining the solution or opportunity for improvement.
5. Summarize the request and need.
At the end, give a recap of the total presentation and summarize with an investment strategy. Spread the cost out on a spreadsheet. Many people do not get the project approved because they do not show the cash outlay when it happens.
My belief is we are never too old to stop learning, and with technology moving so fast, this holds true!
Susan Rider, President, Rider & Associates and Executive Life Coach, can be reached at email@example.com.