How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
Taking Advantage of Trigger Events to Replace Competitors
Once you’ve collected your competitive information and have actionable lists of which customers and prospects work with which competitors, you are able to take advantage of trigger events that may signal competitive opportunities.
Here are some examples:
- A favorite sales rep quits.
- They drop a product line.
- Dissatisfaction with delivery times or speeds
- Inaccuracies in orders and deliveries
- Too many out-of-stocks
- Change of vendor or market focus
- Discourteous employees
- Lack of technical support and expertise
When you hear about any of these triggers, your CRM system will allow you to swoop into action, profile a quick list of companies who work with that particular competitor, and send out personalized emails addressing the issue and highlighting your differences. By keeping stock emails inside of your CRM, your team can be ready at a moments notice with consistent and preapproved messaging.
Always take the high road in your communications. Never mention a competitor by name, which would at best tip your hand to your competitor and at worst place your own company in a bad light with your customers. Instead, respond with a list of your unique selling propositions that match the trigger event you want to address. Imagine email subject lines like:
- “Hear why our customers say we’re the friendliest in town”
- “Let us provide free technical assistance on your next bid”
- “Daily truck deliveries in your neighborhood every 15 minutes”
- “How we won vendor name’s top accuracy award”
Ask your reps to make visits and phone calls to follow up your messages, especially in sensitive areas. When a favorite rep leaves, there may not be a tasteful way to approach the topic except in person. Calling to wish the rep well in retirement and asking if it might be time for a test order would maintain professional standards while opening new doors.
One of our favorite examples comes from an SMP user. They had a large competitor who closed a local branch. The distributor was able to mine the data stored in SMP over a period of time to identify customers that used to use that now closed branch as their primary source. With this targeted list, they sent out calls and emails to those customers discussing the closure of that branch and discussing what it means when a competitor leaves a market. They were able to stay top of mind during the transition with those customers, reminding them that they were a full-service distributor and could help meet their needs. They even went so far as to recruit some of the competitor’s best sales reps to help cement the new customer relationships.