Equip Sales Reps to Sell Excess and Stockout Inventory

By Zilliant

Sep 21, 2023

In an era marked by supply chain and market-driven inventory challenges, learn how revenue operations and intelligence software can enable sales reps to pinpoint opportunities to sell excess and stockout inventory.

Inventory Challenges in the New Era of Revenue Intelligence

As supply chain pressure persists for the global economy, there are ways to mitigate its impacts on revenue and meet customer demand. We previously examined how a data-driven product alternative strategy can help drive revenue and automate processes, but now let’s turn our attention to inventory challenges. Any inventory challenge, be it excess, a lack thereof, or even lack of demand, can have a detrimental impact on a business’ profitability.

Read more: How to Keep B2B Contracts & Agreements Profitable and Compliant

Many B2B companies are feeling the impact of inventory issues on their bottom line. The good news is that revenue operations and intelligence software like Zilliant Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™ can help tackle inventory problems with actionable sales guidance. Before we jump into how they can help, let’s take a closer look at some typical inventory management challenges.

Inventory Challenges in the New Era of Revenue Intelligence

What Makes Inventory Management So Challenging?

“The last two years have highlighted the vulnerabilities in the supply chain, including wildly unpredictable lead times and supplier performance, that can leave you with either too little or too much of the goods your customers want,” according to Supply Chain Brain.

Inventory management is a complex task. Moving excess inventory swiftly and profitably has become harder over the last three years. In our experience helping customers solve inventory issues, we’ve come across some common recurring challenges, including:

Manual and Inefficient Processes

Sales analysts burden themselves with the time-intensive task of manually generating reports using business intelligence tools or spreadsheets. Emails and reports are all daily fodder that we expect sales reps to review, analyze, act upon, and respond. Ultimately, they lack the urgency our current business landscape calls for.

Lobbing emails back and forth to obtain only a modicum of information does nothing but waste time and offers reps no actionable insights. Manual reports also lack measurable visibility into the outcomes of the effort: Was the excess inventory successfully sold and what was the financial impact?

Leading B2B companies have already discovered the truth: They must move inventory with speed and precision by operationalizing data science into current systems and processes.

Industry Complexity

Both manufacturers and distributors face unique industry challenges. Some of these include large customer bases, a high number of SKUs, or products built to custom configurations. Even before the pandemic era, moving inventory was critical or else it ended up an expense on the balance sheet. However, attempting to find the right customers to sell to without leveraging modern revenue intelligence tools is a massive challenge.

Additionally, complexity is a challenge for sales reps when managing their workload with only so many hours in the day. Balancing sales initiatives, communicating with customers and potential customers, and even attending sales meetings makes it impossible for reps to consistently and effectively identify where time is best spent to secure the best opportunities.

Another email and spreadsheet on top of their lengthy to-do lists doesn’t help sales reps hyper-focus on the areas where they can drive the highest impact. The sales team often ignores the manual efforts to move inventory as a result.

Read: Distributor Moves Inventory & Converts Lost Quotes with Sales IQ™ & Campaign Manager™

Market Volatility

The open market typically fluctuates the prices of raw materials, but the past three years have marked unprecedented volatility. B2B companies must equip themselves to act quickly as market conditions change.

For example, let’s say a building products manufacturer bought steel when the price was high, and then prices drop. Now, the manufacturer is sitting on inventory it paid a lot more for it than it's worth on the open market, and warehousing this inventory is costing the company even more money.

But it is difficult to move this inventory when we use manual processes to determine which customers are ready to buy. Emailing a spreadsheet and asking sales reps to analyze the data to push the inventory is simply not an effective approach. Sales reps need intelligent, customer-specific actions to move this inventory as soon as possible.

Read More: Electrical Products Manufacturers: Profitably Manage Falling Costs

Watch: Zilliant’s Monthly Video Newsletter – July 2022

Market Volatility

How Do You Enable Inventory and Stockout Actions for Sales Teams?

You need to execute inventory management with a measured and intelligent approach. Sales reps need to focus on moving inventory or identifying products to sell to customers when supply issues arise.

Unfortunately, managing inventory with cumbersome spreadsheets just doesn’t work in today’s landscape. Instead, react swiftly and wisely with assistance from revenue operations and intelligence software that can:

Generate actionable, real-time insights from an unlimited number of data sources Deliver sales actions prioritized based on specific criteria to any commercial execution system. Measure the financial impact of campaign actions and sales rep behavior

Innovative companies are bypassing the go-to manual method with next-generation revenue operations and intelligence software: Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™.

Combined, these solutions pack a powerful punch. They intelligently and scalably derive and deliver revenue-driving, account-specific actions to sales reps, eCommerce sites and marketing operations tools.

In the case of inventory challenges and stockouts, they help B2B companies move inventory quickly by translating data into prioritized and actionable, customer-specific insights.

What is Sales IQ™?

Sales IQ™ is the leading B2B revenue operations intelligence solution, using advanced data science to identify incremental revenue opportunities within both a company’s customer base and whitespace accounts. Sales IQ™ determines what products and quantities customers should be buying based on the buying patterns of similar customers. As a result, Sales IQ™ customers typically see a 5 to 15 percent increase in same customer sales.

What is Campaign Manager™?

Campaign Manager™ is an application that allows sales management and operations teams to scope, refine, prioritize, and publish campaigns based on Sales IQ™ or custom, user-defined insights. Together, Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™ produce and deliver targeted action types including Growth, Recovery, Product Substitution, Inventory, Win-Back, Prospecting, Contract Compliance, and more directly to sales reps.

Watch: Zilliant Sales Growth Solutions Overview

Read More: [EBOOK] Auto Parts Distributor Accelerates Sales

Campaign Manager

How Do Inventory Actions Work in the New Era of Revenue Intelligence?

Whether shortage or surplus, it is vital to ensure your sales team can pivot quickly and easily focus on moving the product. As such, it's critical to match inventory to the customers most likely to purchase it.

The Sales IQ™ engine analyzes customers’ historical sales trends and last date of purchase for a particular product to highlight those customers most likely to buy. Sales operations teams can then make these insights actionable in Campaign Manager™ by scoping, filtering, and prioritizing customer actions and publishing them in Zilliant Sales Planner™or their seller interface of choice. Additionally, businesses can utilize these actions in marketing campaigns or present them to customers directly through eCommerce channels.

What’s an Example of the Process for Generating Inventory Actions with Revenue Operations & Intelligence Software?

Let’s use a stockout example to illustrate how Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™ work in tandem to a) identify customers likely to purchase inventory and b) scope, filter and deliver prioritized actions to the sales team.

For this example, there are warehouses in a business’ south and central regions that are unable to stock products that it usually has on hand. Presenting customers who are used to buying those products with a suitable alternative is critical.

First, we create a mapping of replacement items for each region for out-of-stock products. Sales IQ™ imports this mapping and matches it against everything customers are currently buying to identify the right accounts to notify about these stockouts.

Once you import the mapping, Sales IQ™ immediately matches it to what current customers are buying and generates account-specific guidance, including which are affected by stockouts and the purchase patterns that indicate an opportunity. These details will form the basis for running the inventory action campaign.

In Campaign Manager™, sales operations can further scope and filter these insights down based on thresholds such as how long ago customers last purchased these items, customers’ buying frequency, and purchase volume. Now, you can run the campaign, resulting in the creation of customer-specific actions that are ready to publish. Once we publish them, we make these inventory actions available in the sales rep dashboard within Sales Planner™ or seamlessly in the CRM tool of choice.

In essence, the campaign runs high-level strategies and delivers them to sales reps in an easily consumable way. Sales reps are also able to update the action status to provide closed-loop tracking for reporting on campaign performance for management teams.

It's then easy for sales reps to understand what they need to focus on. It’s easy for sales operations teams to translate commercial strategy into action. It’s easy for executives to see the financial impact of their strategies.

Watch: Zilliant Demo Series: Revenue Operations & Intelligence in B2B

Inventory Actions


Leveraging data to respond to inventory challenges in real time and operationalizing insights into existing systems will be the difference maker between leading and lagging companies in this new era. Inventory actions generated by Sales IQ™ and driven by Campaign Manager™ are helping B2B companies close the strategy to execution gap in these challenging times.

Talk to Zilliant today to learn how to enter the new era of revenue operations and intelligence.

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