Traditionally focused on field sales, distributors have not historically been strong in marketing capabilities. But as customer demographics change, how distributors market has become increasingly critical to long-term survival. Because if distributors don’t keep pace with how customers want to shop and buy – which is largely electronic – they’ll lose ground against the competition.
Each distributor must strike the right balance to meet their customers’ needs. The risk is too great to get the resource allocation between field sales, inside sales, customer service reps and electronic channels wrong. No distributor can afford to use a one-size-fits-all strategy anymore.
If when you see the phrase “value proposition” you think: “Yes, we have one already. We provide great customer service. We’ve been in business for 75 years, and we have the best product,” then you may want to rethink where you stand.
Ecommerce is table stakes for distributors in 2018, but it shouldn’t be surprising that B2B buyers want more than the capability to place an order on your website. As we’ve written here previously, end-users want a robust shopping and buying experience; just a small percentage of online shopping by distributors’ customers actually leads to placing an order.
Print is not as universal as it once was (though it’s still very relevant for some customers), and even in-person sales rep visits, long considered the gold standard of customer-relationship building in distribution, are declining in popularity in today’s efficiency-driven market. In fact, 20 percent of customers we surveyed said they want a sales rep to visit no more than once a year, and a surprising 15 percent don’t want any visit, ever.
Jonathan Bein, managing partner of Real Results Marketing, spoke with Lindsay Young on the 3 Aspens Media podcast, Attract. Engage. Grow., about the importance of understanding what your customers want.
With all of these websites, how can your site stand out from the competition? Why would someone choose to click on a link to your site? About 90 perfect of Google traffic comes from page one placement in search results. Conversely, less than 10 percent click on the second page of the search results. At this point, it may sound daunting to even think about getting on the first page of Google’s search results. Fear not! Read on to learn how a distributor’s website can be a formidable presence within Google search results.
Most distribution companies take a similar approach to touting their position in the supply chain, with 80 to 90 percent of distributors believing their value proposition contains at least one of the following attributes: product selection and availability, speed of delivery and pre-sales or post-sales expertise.
While distributors are growing their use of digital vehicles, it may not be quickly enough. Many still rely on trade shows, print flyers and branch-based events despite customers’ decreasing preference for these channels.
This article examines how distributors across sectors approach marketing, what they consider the most effective channels to be and the frequency with which they conduct their different marketing vehicles.