MarginHound – Commercial Analytics

Consulting statistician and software developer with over 20 years of industry experience. I specialize in helping business executives use analytical insights to solve commercial problems. Lets talk about how your company can use data to buy, sell, make, or price better!

Commercial Management experience includes:

  • Head of Data Science For A Fortune 500 Distributor
  • Head of Product & Commercial Strategy – Manufacturer / CPG Brand
  • Corporate Pricing Leader – Industrial Distributor
  • Restructuring Analyst – Bain Capital Turnaround
  • Six Sigma Black Belt – General Electric
  • Marketing Program Manager

Preferred Technology:

I take a hands on approach to understanding how your business operates. investing the time to “walk the grounds” with your management team to learn about your customers and processes. This allows me to apply my experience as a general manager and commercial strategist to translate your business needs into analytical questions and convert the resulting answers into practical solutions.

My consulting approach goes beyond analytics to transform how your business operates. Starting from a core of rigorously vetted insights, we will explore the various options available to embed these ideas into your team’s policies, processes, and procedures. We will work together to distill complex analytical insights into a simple wallet card or web tools to make this easy for your sales team to implement. If needed, I am available to help coach your team members through implementation as a change agent or trainer. Nothing makes prouder than to see my projects create sustainable change in your organization.

Areas of practice – these can be grouped into three categories:

  • Margin Improvement Strategies: A “no holds barred” review of how we can increase selling margins without risking key customers. My approach to this space blends strategy, competitive intelligence, and transaction data, seeking to understand the value you offer, the customer interaction cycle, and how we can consistently earn more. Potential options go beyond invoice prices and include product strategy, sales tactics, account development, better sourcing, and manufacturing / logistics optimization. I find ways to add profit without risking relationships.
  • Sales & Marketing Optimization: How can we use analytics to help you get the most of your marketing and sales investments? Do you have the right distribution channels set up? Are they creating demand or merely fulfilling it? I apply my diverse experience in sales and marketing (digital, B2B distribution, direct mail, Fortune 500 account development, big box retail, grocery) to find ways to earn more from your investment in sales personnel and marketing programs.
  • Rapid Prototyping For Critical Projects: Trying to stand up a strategic program and hitting IT roadblocks? Is your merger or corporate restructuring program stalled due to lack of good data? Need to quickly get a prototype of your idea to market? As a software developer who happens to be a former corporate strategist and IT executive, I can help you quickly get stuff done. Without losing the quality and resilience of a professionally managed solution. I have extensive experience working within private equipment portfolio companies and managing a bootstrapped business.

Representative Projects – Pricing / Product:

  • Strategic Pricing / Margin Improvement: Designed a margin improvement playbook for a highly competitive redistribution business (distributor serving other distributors, creating a plan to improve margins and product mix without significant risks to growth. This case is particularly interesting due to the level of transparency within the industry: multiple competitors selling the same products into customers who aggressively track and compare notes on prices. Worked with the selling organization to segment the customer base and understand relationship dynamics, including our estimated position within each major account. Identified high margin “outlier” situations and determined root case for the higher margins. This provided insights on where we could safely take price in this market and optimize product mix within the account to improve profitability. Deployed recommendations as proactive guidance on “what good business looks like” and introduced process and policy changes to systematically address under-performing accounts. First year results include a 100 bps lift in selling margin.
  • Strategic Sourcing Analytics: Built analytical platform to optimize purchasing of custom packaging materials for a large distributor. Worked with the business to develop a “should cost” model for all custom products in key packaging category, estimating cost based on product attributes, converting parameters, and order size. Created Python programs to “scan” transactions on a regular basis, comparing actual cost against the “should cost” prediction. Additional value was generated through analysis of ordering patterns and comparing product specifications against customer applications, identifying opportunities to redesign over-spec items to reduce costs and consolidate volume into larger manufacturing runs. Program delivered over $3 MM of incremental margin and increased our value to strategic packaging customers.

Representative Projects – Pricing / Product:

  • User Experience / Search Engine Optimization: For an independent digital publisher, identified key barriers to user experience and redesigned web platform to improve retention. The changes were effective, yielding a 30% lift in audience conversion to repeat visitors and an 80% increase in relationship duration. More importantly, this played a key role in helping the website gain higher search engine rankings, increasing traffic by 16 X in under 3 years.
  • Marketing Optimization: For a large financial services company, proposed and built a database marketing program to increase return on marketing investment for a top client. Results include an 80% lift in sales-per-prospect for the consumer account acquisition programs, a 35% increase in sales per marketing dollar for lifecycle marketing, and tripling the size of the addressable market for B2B mailings through better targeting and credit policies.
  • Account Development / Cross-Sell: For multiple clients, developed sales analytics platforms to review the book of business within major customers and identify high potential gaps in the assortment. Worked with the business to understand customer buying behavior, end user applications, and the business development process. Integrated these results with the statistical data to develop highly actionable selling proposals and created comprehensive opportunity analysis reports to hand off to the selling organization. Worked with sellers to develop successful presentations for target accounts. Designed and deployed performance management process.

Representative Projects – Rapid Prototyping / Corporate Strategy Support:

  • Business Restructuring / Sales Compensation Strategy: Developed the software and analytics behind a $10 MM restructuring program for an industrial distributor; aligned sales compensation to customer profitability metrics. Explored the Byzantine depths of the legacy commission engine and developed a full simulation model to test alternative compensation plans. Guided senior executives and board members towards options for restructuring the business and increasing sales team focus on customer profitability. Once leadership agreed on direction, used rapid application development principles to build the implementation platform in under three weeks.
  • Merger Integration / Interim IT Solution: Spearheaded the rapid development of a sales data warehouse and BI application portfolio following IT integration delays in the merger of two large distributors. Restored executive visibility to commercial performance within three weeks from a “standing start” (no advance notice). Accomplished project with zero budget beyond internal resources, identifying and re-purposing existing equipment to reduce delays. Originally built for a service life of under three months, this business-owned platform remained in operation for over three years including supporting SEC financial reporting, pricing actions, and strategic planning.
  • Market Research / Competitive Intelligence: For a confidential client, assessed the commercial and strategic value of analytics innovations and data acquisitions. Worked with business experts to identify how the innovation or data source could be used to create value within a competitor’s operations. Identified strategic options to “build or buy” capabilities through organic development and corporate acquisitions. Completed market assessment including customer validation of the value proposition and initial target accounts. Evaluated operating model options for sales, distribution, and service. Walked the client through the strategic options and financial impact.

Interested in reading more? Contact me at hound-at-marginhound-dot-com.

MarginHound – Commercial Analytics

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