How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
7 Easy Ways Technology Promotes Growth
Distributors are already familiar with how technology can help them manage their back office operations, inventory and warehouse functions. But more and more, distributors are turning to technology to help them grow their businesses as well. While no technology can ever replace the human touch your team and sales reps bring to your customer service, automation and technology can help you generate new customers and improve your customer loyalty.
Here are seven (7) quick ways to grow your business through technology.
1. Better Customer Communications
Distributors who have consistent communications with their customers are more successful. Many distributors find their communication methods to be difficult and time-consuming and don’t dedicate the energy they need to communications. Some distributors are simply confused about where to start or what to communicate. Technology makes customer communications easier and more effective. Performing data analysis on sales behaviors can point to certain triggers for personalized communication. For example, you could run a list of customers who haven’t been into your branch for a few months and offer them a new incentive or training. You could send thank you notes based on purchasing frequency. Maybe a seasonal event triggers a special on HVAC equipment. With SMP, you don’t have to send each note or thank you separately and manually, so this frees your reps up to spend their time driving value with your customers.
2. Managing Relationships
Almost every distributor has a distribution-specific ERP system that runs their core business. It helps you track your inventory, purchasing and sales history. But an ERP system is not a CRM or business intelligence system, and that’s where SMP comes in.
SMP combines your ERP data with your sales and CRM data all in one powerful platform that also offers easy-to-use data analytics and dashboards. It is focused on the customer relationship more than and ERP ever could. In addition to tight integrations with all the leading distribution ERP systems, SMP allows you to profile your customers based on real data and sales history to see patterns and trends you can capitalize upon.
It can be expensive to call and sell customers, both old and new. SMP makes your reps more efficient in managing those relationships by slicing and dicing the customers into meaningful lists. You can track all the most meaningful interactions, meetings and important issues for each customer and contact individually.
3. Help Your Customers Sell More
One interesting way you can add value to your customer relationships is to help them connect the dots in ways they may not be able to. Technology makes this easy. By identifying their purchasing patterns, you could help them make specific product offers to their own customers or even enlist the help of your vendors for comarketing campaigns that include your best customers. This would be almost impossible to do without SMP, but SMP makes it easy to generate ideas for new opportunities that help you, your vendors and your customers all at once.
4. Winning in an Omni-channel World
More and more B2B buyers are sourcing product online. The most effective distributors are stepping up to this challenge with SMP. SMP allows them to differentiate themselves from online competitors with data analysis that helps them really understand the needs of each customer. Your sales reps become trusted advisors who help your customers in specialized engagements and not just transaction-based order takers. You can use drag-and-drop data visualizations to show the number of support calls, training sessions and other value-added insights you’ve brought to your customer relationship. Technology can help you differentiate yourself from online competitors by offering carefully targeted and tailored services that meet your customers’ exact needs.
5. Mobile Sales Enablement
Sales reps on SMP can be productive outside the office thanks to a robust set of mobile sales enablement tools. You probably have a fairly dispersed sales force and geography that you sell to. Mobile helps you facilitate sales no matter where your reps have to be that day. Younger workers often prefer to work remotely and expect that you can offer them mobile tools for their effectiveness. When your mobile strategy is connected to your CRM, you save time and close more deals because you don’t have to return to the office to look up important information or spend time reentering notes when you get back.
6. Better Sales Follow Up
Distributors often struggle with sales follow up. Without a distribution-specific CRM in place, many sales managers are flying blind and assuming that reps are following up on all areas of their business. Unfortunately, sales follow up is far from consistent unless you have the right technology in place. A lot can change in a sales cycle in a short amount of time. Without consistent follow up you can miss important buying windows and lose deals. SMP helps your reps track activities, create new plans, provide visibility to their managers on their pipeline and important customers, and close more open bids and quotes.
7. Social Media
Distribution sales reps have often been slow to adopt social media in their sales methods. But social media can provide a powerful window into new opportunities. Maybe you find out that one of your customers is complaining about a competitor on Twitter. Or another customer posts a repair question on LinkedIn. By monitoring your social network, you can identify opportunities your competitors might be blind to. You can also use social media as another channel to post your marketing content and offers, which increases your reach. Social profiles like Twitter feeds and LinkedIn profiles are just a click away inside of each contact record inside of SMP. This makes it easy for your reps to add ideas from social media to their customer relationships.