Most medium size and smaller firms are at a triple disadvantage versus the leading multinationals and biggest local firms.

First, the deeper pockets of the bigger firms allow a more intensive research and development for their products than smaller firms. Second, they have more money to throw into advertising and promotions. Third, they often are both faster and better at using data to demonstrate their effectiveness when trying to persuade retailers to agree with them.

But sales data is the cheapest data around and if the small guys take the trouble to set up things properly, they do not have to be at a big disadvantage on data. It will enable them to make decisions on a better foundation, including the many decisions that have to be made on short notice.

Sales data is usually underutilized because it is often not organized and presented to be easily examined for trends and to expose the causes of trends. Which is a big disadvantage for smaller firms because now more than ever, speed of action is important in competition.
A very simple but very helpful practice that many sales forces can follow is to make available to their key account managers, sales data that is not only cumulative year to date but also provide sales data shown in quarters. Most sales forces usually get into the habit of only looking at cumulative year to date versus target and the latest month versus target. And because of that very narrow view, most sales people do not have a good grasp of which of their programs are working better for them. Because the performance is buried under the weight of the cumulative year to date. And because they do not have time to dig up the details to clarify, they will often fall back on their biases when asked to identify the reasons for above or below target performance.

These explanations are often worthless and at worst, misleading. I have seen many people try to come up with all kinds of explanations for differences in cumulative figures but in most cases, they were giving too much importance to what turned out to be the wrong reasons, or they were entirely wrong about their explanations. A problem with that is that time gets more and more precious to a manager the higher up the manager is in the organization, so the manager often does not have the time to get into the details himself or herself.

But if the cumulative year to date data is supplemented with a simple table that shows columns of quarters and rows of the key brands or sub-brands, preferably all expressed in pesos, then it is easier to trace when an uptrend or downtrend started. Because you probably have a record of when some marketing or sales program started, whether yours or your competitors. And you can then more easily relate those to changes in your sales trends.

It is not difficult but it can be very helpful. It does not even have to be done every month initially if you think people do not have the time, you can start doing it quarterly, and when you see the benefit, you can start doing it monthly.

Benedicto “Poch” Cid Jr. is Chief Brand Adviser of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the leader in marketing, sales and innovation training in the Philippines with the widest curriculum in Asia Pacific. Learn from him live in the seminars entitled, Brand Architecture and DNA: Organizing your brand portfolio for impact on June 19-20, 2014 and the 6th Data-Driven Marketing on July 31-August 1. For details, visit, email, call (+63-2) 584-5858 / 412-0034 or text (+63) 918-81-168-88.