How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
Maximize Partner Selling with Key Vendors
Let’s face it—vendor relationships are tricky. Distributors have to constantly worry about the potential for disintermediation, margin improvement and product quality issues. Vendors on the other hand have to worry about their distributors’ efficiencies and are often left out of the loop because they are removed from a relationship with the end customer. In the end, you and your vendors want the same thing: consistently increasing product sales.
There are numerous ways you can collaborate with your vendor with a strong sales management solution, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Profiled lists: Many vendors struggle keeping good end-user data. This presents challenges any time they need to communicate price changes, product announcements or other messages. The challenge becomes even more daunting when considering the universe of potential customer and not just current customers. With SMP, your ability to profile customers and prospects (e.g., SIC or ZIP code, company size, functional role, etc.) brings an enormous amount of value to your vendor.
- Email Campaigns: If list profiles are a challenge for your vendors, successful email campaigns may seem impossible. But the power of email to deliver big results for small budgets is undeniable. SMP’s MarketPro is tightly integrated to your ERP system. That means you can build dynamic lists based on your ERP data and communicate directly to the customers and prospects who would be most receptive to a message from your vendors.
- Volume targets and comarketing funds: Many sales and marketing relationships exist in a data-free environment. How do you currently prove to you vendors that you deserve special incentives or comarketing funds to go after new targets and markets? SMP’s DataView provides you with push-button, turnkey reporting to prove to your vendors that you can deliver results.
- Special promotions: Most vendors require support from their distributors when they offer industry-wide promotions. Your superior sales performance relative to your non-SMP-enabled peers will attract your vendors’ attention the next time they put a special program in place to increase sales, penetrate new markets or introduce new products.
- Market data: Vendors often need help deciding where to put their energies in new products and markets. Your relationship with your customers and your mastery of market data make you an indispensable partner in your vendors’ future plans.
Don’t let the many opportunities describe above cause you to think that vendor relationships need to be overly complex. SMP makes it easy. Let’s look at a real-life example of how you could start a productive dialog with your vendors today.
Start with your top four or five vendors. Identify how much of their product you’re selling and where there are sales opportunities for their products with a group of key customers. In SMP, we encapsulate the data for you using Customer Lists which you can use to track sales, activities or even analyze open opportunities and projects.
Then, invite your vendor to the table to share the lists of customers you identified as good targets for your products. Your vendor might assist you by adding new targets to your list. When you agree on that list, you and your vendor can coordinate joint sales calls and incentives. Your vendors will be much more likely to share their time and resources with a well planned and data rich strategy.
Log your action plans in SMP using activities and make sure everyone on the team has a role and knows what they’re responsible for. By tracking your results and managing your progress, you will have a proven track record to go back to your vendors for more assistance with new programs.