Industry Beat: Building Material Manufacturers

According to Business Insider, the most recent Beige Book issued by the Federal Reserve reported that economic activity continued to expand in 2014. While the overall outlook is positive for future economic growth in the U.S., manufacturing growth realized consistent expansion in October and November, but the pace of growth in real estate and construction was less consistent and varied by sector and federal district. Per the Beige Book:

“Manufacturers of household appliances and construction building materials reported an increase in shipments, and were encouraged that the improving labor market would continue to translate into stronger housing demand.”

According to The Guardian, the UK manufacturing industry is growing as the year comes to a close. Good news overall, but the construction industry’s current growth is at the slowest pace it’s been all year.

While optimism persists, some numbers signal an uneasy outlook for the 2015 building material manufacturing sector. Whether your outlook is positive, or less so, in 2015, here are some additional resources on what’s happening in this industry vertical:

Manufacturing Construction Rebounded in November

Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers reported that an uptick in investments “bodes well for the manufacturing sector, suggesting that business leaders have enough confidence in their outlook to warrant additional construction investment.”

UK Manufacturing Boost Ahead of Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Katie Allen of The Guardian reported in early December that “Britain’s manufacturers enjoyed faster growth last month in a boost to Chancellor George Osborne as he prepares to present his autumn statement on Wednesday.” Allen gives an in-depth look in this article on the current and future states of the UK manufacturing industry.

Construction Industry to See More Balanced Growth in 2015

Dodge Data and Analytics predicted in the 2015 Dodge Construction Outlook Report that a rise in construction starts for commercial and institutional building accompanied by moderate improvement for housing and a stabilizing public works sector is on slate for 2015.

Looking for more insight? Read this whitepaper: Building Material Manufacturing Dynamics: Construct a Plan for Profitable Growth.

Top B2B Tips, Part Two: Threats to Organic Growth, Rise of Little Data and How to Know Your Price is Right

Last Thursday, we brought you insights on building better customer relationships, data misconceptions and dream projects of data experts. Today’s mix of B2B articles focuses on overcoming threats to organic growth, knowing if your price is right, and leveling the sales playing field.

[How-to] Combat Threats to Organic Growth – Business Review Europe

This summer, Business Review Europe published an article that explored why getting a handle on organic growth in B2B continues to plague many companies. It offers up why traditional, manual methods continue to fall flat against the massively complex environment of industrial B2B companies.

Top Tip: Don’t relegate decisions about which customers to call on and which products to talk about to guesswork; instead, guide sales reps to the opportunities most likely to result in a win.

How to Know if Your Price is Right – Industrial Distribution

Associate Editor Abigail Kriebs gives distributors a fresh perspective on knowing if your prices are on target: “Whether that advantage they hope to gain is over their competition or over their own past performance, it is important that the leaders of these businesses consider every opportunity available to add as much as possible to the bottom line. Warehouse automation, transportation negotiation, and Lean practices all show up in operational goals to drive efficiencies, but often distributors overlook the thousands of chances a day they have to instantly increase profitability: every time a price is agreed upon in a sale.”

Top Tip: Just like in demand forecasting, in pricing it is possible to predict what will happen with specific groups of customers when you change price.

The Fall of Intuition-Based Decisions and the Rise of Little Data – Information Management

“Two dynamics are poised to transform the way companies operate: the exponential increase in data and the realization on the part of executives that predictive models and algorithms produce better decision guidance than human intuition alone,” states author Pete Eppele in this article that predicts the future of B2B decision-making.

Top Tip: Deliver decision guidance directly to employees, rather than a dictated best guess. Arming them with this level of guidance will result in decisions that are optimized, consistent and aligned with company strategy.

Leveling the Sales Playing Field with Predictive Guidance – WIRED Innovation Insights

If you are like most organizations, your sales team consists of primarily “B” and “C” players along with a handful of “A” performers, or those reps that consistently meet or exceed quota, and do so profitably. Imagine for a moment that all of the B and C players could sell profitably at the same level as the A players. What impact would this have on your top and bottom line? No doubt it would be huge, but can it be done? This article gives actionable insights into leveling the playing field in your sales organization.

Top Tip: The fact is that in many B2B industries, a significant percentage of experienced sales reps will retire in the next several years, creating a big knowledge gap. The “tribal knowledge” sales teams have relied on to hit their numbers will begin to disappear.

Top B2B Tips: Customer Relationships, Dream Analytics Projects and Data Misconceptions

Education is integral to staying innovative and competitive in any industry; that’s precisely why we sourced the following insightful news pieces. Take a peek. We hope they help you think differently about optimizing your business decisions.

Data Experts Discuss Their Dream Analytics Projects – DataInformed

This article sources five expert data practitioners to find out what projects they would work on if time, money and staff were unlimited. As the author stated: “The answers reveal the passions and, in some cases, the frustrations of experts who see problems up close every day and know they have access to the tools that could help solve them, if only resources would allow.”

Top Tip: Predictive analytics can go a long way in making sales reps more effective and efficient.

Customer Relationship Building 101 – tED Magazine

This piece from the magazine for electrical distributors sources more tips from experts in the B2B space that can be used to form “lasting, trusting, and mutually beneficial alliances with customers.” These seven tips explore everything from finding the right marketing opportunities and gaps to using complaints as an opportunity to improve your service.

Top Tip: Take a proactive stance by knowing at a given moment what products you should talking about with each customer.

What is the Biggest Misconception About Big Data? – DataInformed

As with anything new, rumor and hyperbole can easily take over the truth about what is, and isn’t, possible. In this piece, the author sources data experts to discover the biggest misconceptions about big data. “With all its press, promises, and potential, big data is getting plenty of attention from c-suiters. In the rush to learn how to alchemize information into insight, misinformation and misconceptions about big data and its attending technology are inevitable,” Scott Etkin, managing editor, DataInformed.

Top Tip: Start with the business problem in mind, seek out only the data you need to address it and apply sophisticated predictive/prescriptive solutions to solve that problem.

Stay tuned to Tuesday’s post for round two of top B2B tips.