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The dangers of the daily sales figures

Few of us would ever stop to question the benefit of daily sales information. It must be useful – look how bereft we feel if it’s not available.

Then the explanatory text follows, and we relax a bit as we realise it is an overnight batch issue and our shops haven’t suffered a catastrophic event, nor have our customers boycotted us – phew.

Still, our concentration slips as we wait for the data to arrive. And for what? To be told we were 5% up on where we thought we would be.

And what do we do with this information? Well, if it’s up 5% we feel that all is well with the world, the buying and merchandising teams are the best in the business, and the distribution system is a well-oiled machine. We might even look and see what we should buy a few more of.

And if it’s down 5%? Well, it must be a blip, but we’d better make sure. Let’s phone a few people in the field and see what’s going on out there. Aha, it was raining in Manchester, and the truck doing the Kent run broke down. But when these explanations don’t amount to a hill of beans there must be something wrong with our ranges. How quickly can we get a promotion on?

And the consequences for our organisation? We develop teams who live in the moment; a culture that prioritises short-term decision making and downgrades long-term thinking.

The important stuff gets put off. Great businesses spend most of their time on the things that are important but not urgent. Who is going to be the first retailer to signal that this is their priority and bin the distribution of daily sales figures?

Andy King runs Kingsight, a coaching and mentoring business

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