February 24, 2015
I recently read a great article in Industrial Supply magazine on how independent distributors are helping Amazon take business away from them. The article was written by Jack Bailey, CEO of IDC-USA, an independent distributor cooperative.
The article is interesting because it not only affects distribution, but ultimately the manufacturers who supply them. From a distributor’s point of view, they are either scared to death of them or they think it’s a passing fancy and this too will go away.
The problem is that most items that have part numbers and can be ordered online or through a PO are prime game for Amazon. Amazon has convinced many distributors to join their third party selling agreement to sell their products on the Amazon e-commerce site. Short term for many of them, it means more sales, but long-term, it will mean disaster. Amazon is a great collector of data and once they have enough profile info on who buys what, they can and will cut out the independents.
What does it mean to manufacturers who have resisted selling to Amazon is they run the risk of being replaced by a competitive product and literally lose millions in sales when Amazon comes to them with all this data of who bought what from whom.
This has always been one of manufacturers biggest challenges with traditional distribution of getting the names of their customers and what they buy. Now the distributors are willing to give that up freely to their biggest potential competitor that could put them out of business and they will!
February 4, 2015
From a manufacturing point of view, it’s in your best interest to train contractors on the best way to install your product. It eliminates call backs and helps contractors sell more of your stuff. No surprise there, but with sales forces that are stretched thin, now they can only do so much training. Where do they focus their efforts – on the distributor’s sales force or on the end user?
The answer is use online training for both.
- You can train distributor sales on new products, not only on features and benefits, but also on where/when they should be used. There are several eLearning options out there that can test them after to make sure they got the point.
- You can train contractors on new products/processes and installation tips.
- Online lets them take the course on their timeline, not yours.
Both distributors and contractors want to get the most out of both employees as well as opportunities, so you’re better off arming them with the right info.
- According to the American Society of Training and Development, companies that spend $1,500 or more per employee average a profit margin 24% higher than those who don’t invest in their employees.
- Deloitte reports that 18% of all training is now on smartphones.
- Cisco’s VNI Global IP traffic and service adoption forecasts that by 2018, 79% of all internet traffic will be videos.
If you like this post, you might want to read:
Do You Have a B-to-B Video Strategy?
Manufacturers: Are You Missing out on Video Opportunities?
B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?
January 27, 2015
Do you know that the average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour? Can you imagine what the stats are for contractors out in the field?
The point is that emails are very acceptable ways of communicating with each other. The key is to have relevant and timely info for your prospect.
Heidi Cohen gives us several reasons why email trumps social media:
- Email provides directly measurable ROI – You know immediately how many opened and read your message.
- Email is content format agnostic – It’s user-friendly and you can use text, images, videos, audio, PDFs.
- Email can deliver both long and short content – Content can vary from a link to several pages in length.
- Emails you can control delivery – Whether it’s now or delayed.
- Emails can be read on anything – Smart phones, tablets, laptops, no apps required.
- Emails build customer relationships – Once someone allows you to communicate with them, it represents a certain level of trust.
So since you have such a powerful tool, we need to make sure we’re using it correctly to get the best bang for the buck. eMarketer, in a recent article, stated that we all should get ready for more personalized emails and companies plan on spending more money to accomplish this.
These triggered and transactional emails can be part of a nurturing campaign. The key is getting the right message in the hands of the right people at the right time. You need to ask the right questions to see where they are in the sales funnel so you can address that immediate need.
If we use and target emails correctly, whether you’re going after a contractor or a plant manager, the result improves with the more segmenting you can do. So do your homework and take advantage of a great marketing tool.
January 14, 2015
I have found that there’s no better way to position yourself as a credible source than by having a third party sing your praises. Most companies, if pleased with what you did or supplied, would be happy to not only give you a recommendation, but in some cases, a testimonial.
Here are some things to consider:
- Keep the requests to unique applications or markets. This helps you focus on something that sets you apart.
- Ask when the project is complete – when everything is fresh in every bodies mind.
- Get proper clearances upfront – when dealing with bigger companies or unique situations, it’s smart to get an approval upfront and let the customer know what you want to accomplish and assure them that they will have final approval before it’s used. If you have a PR department or agency, they are used to vetting out potential before you waste time and resources.
- It’s best you control the writing. Most customers are not writers, they’re contractors. Besides, they aren’t aware of the big picture of what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Write an outline of what you want to accomplish and then let someone interview the contractor and write the story.
- Utilize info in multiple places – try to get it featured in a leading trade magazine. Post it on your website. Have a sell sheet made up for your salesmen to use. If you’re on social media, post it there with links back to your web. Here’s a good example of Viega that uses case studies very effectively.
Don’t miss out on one of the best ways to have customers tell your story and build your credibility.