Distribution sales teams often ask us, “when is the best time to implement CRM?” That implies that there is a wrong time to implement CRM; however, is there ever a wrong time to grow sales in your company? The truth is that when business is down that is exactly the time you need to do something different to empower your team to grow sales and take the time to retool your sales practices. And when business is up, you need a tool to help support your growth so that the wheels don’t come off the bus.
The Rising Role of Distribution Marketing
An important trend that we’re seeing in leading distribution companies is an increasing involvement of their marketing teams in many aspects of the business. Distribution marketing has taken a much bigger role in strategic planning than ever before. The reason is that distributors are facing a quickly changing marketplace – new competitors, talent shortages, commoditization, online competitors and more. Data-driven marketing teams are in a unique position to help their companies in ways that go far beyond simple promotions and events.
SMP helps your marketing teams track, manage and analyze the data that can lead to better decisions. By providing self-serve data analytics and easy-to-understand visualizations, marketing teams running SMP can help generate new insights that can help you navigate these unchartered waters. Here are a few examples of how marketing leaders are using SMP to help guide their company’s direction.
- Responding to opportunities from the growing trend of consolidation in the marketplace. Distribution is undergoing an unprecedented period of consolidation with many mergers and acquisitions. Where can your company best take advantage of these trends that are causing uncertainty with vendors, customers and perhaps your own sales reps? SMP allows you to track competitors at each customer so that you could immediately pull a list of customers who were affected by the consolidation.
- Improving customer service. Customer service is about becoming more important to your customer and adding more value to your relationship. One of the ways to do this is by improving the product mix for each account. SMP allows you to analyze all of the sales data in each account to better understand the opportunities you have to increase your share of wallet with each customer and also help them consolidate their purchasing with you.
- Meeting increased customer expectations. Our customers expect more from us than ever. Marketing can provide a full picture of each customer to our sales teams to help understand their needs better and treat them each like a unique and valued customer. By providing mobile tools and CRM technology, marketing and sales leaders are improving the ability to serve customers in ways no online competitor can.
- Helping identify causes of declining margins. As distributors face declining margins in many industries, many of them are tapping their marketing teams to broaden that analysis across their entire CRM and ERP data to truly understand the various profit drivers in their business. With one click in SMP you can pull a list of customers with declining margins for further discussion and analysis. You can very easily create a marketing plan to address very specific situations you find in your analysis. You can also do a similar analysis with vendors and potential product substitutions in a matter of minutes.
- Meeting new competitors head on. Distributors have always worried about new competitors, but technology and omni-channel offerings have made it easy than ever to enter a market as a new competitor. Marketing teams have to proactively protect and deepen your customer relationships so that they are bullet-proof against any and all new competitors. If you’re tracking competitors inside of SMP, you team can respond more quickly to new threats and opportunities.