Manufacturers are always looking for better ways to create stronger relationships with distributors.
Keeping distributors motivated, informed and enthusiastic about selling your products is a struggle. It requires time, energy and resources that you may not have enough of. Or, so you think. Consider looking outside your industry for cues. Turn distributors into brand advocates before they ever become customers. Insights from an orthodontist.
Who is Dr. Potter – Why Should You Care?
Dr. Potter is an orthodontist in my town. Upon entering his office for the first time, a bubbly team (who have a stake in this business) usher you inside. They are efficient, knowledgeable and friendly (unified passionate culture). Great first impression! Upon sitting down with Dr. Potter and his trusty sidekick Jeri it’s clear he’s paying attention. He inquires about your kid’s hobbies, education, and habits. He takes the time to get to know them as people, instead of a patient who needs dental appliances.
He is creative and lays out a program that’s perfect for your needs. He speaks “as if” you’re already a patient (partners in this together). No pressure. No tactics. He turns the visit over to Jeri who lays out the costs in a clear and simple way. Before you can make a decision, Jeri hands you a customized Dr. Potter T-shirt and bank for Dr. Potter Pennies (surprise and delight). Once you’ve accumulated 150 you can choose your prize (incentive). Paperwork prepared, she hands you a beautiful Dr. Potter folder, complete with pen. Jeri offers to set up your first appointment (call to action). She asks how you like to communicate and texts you after you leave to say, thank you! (mobile)
Whether I choose to sign on with Dr. Potter I’m confident I’d recommend him to anyone in need of his services. The experience was that good! He turned me into a brand advocate before I ever became a customer.
Up the probability of creating a customer and a brand advocate for life by capitalizing on every possible touch point before, during and after the initial engagement.
DISTRIBUTORS ARE MORE THAN ORDER TAKERS
Are you giving them a half-hearted commitment and leaving money on the table? Take advantage of every opportunity to convert prospects into partners by offering distributors an engaging experience, helpful tools and consistent inspiration and support.
Seeing distributors as more than order takers creates a completely different dynamic. “We solve our distributor’s problems and help them grow their business” vs. “They sell what we make.” Increase your odds and convert distributors into partners and brand advocates for life.
1. Make it Easy to Find You — PRESENCE
Customers are 90% through the buying cycle before they ever connect with you. An intuitive, friendly and resourceful website is crucial. Make sure your content and images convey that what’s important to them is important to you. Make it easy to find you with effective SEO. Your site must also be responsive and mobile friendly. (thank Google) Your distributor’s customers also research the brands they carry. Another reason to make it easy to find you and support them at the same time.
2. Your Team Can Make or Break the Sale — PEOPLE
You know that salesperson you’ve got, with the bad attitude, that you should have fired a year ago? Get rid of them. Your people are the face of your brand. If they aren’t well trained and enthusiastic about you, no one else will be either. “Research shows that only one in about 50 deals or sales situations happen at the first encounter between the seller and the buyer.” (Cleverism) This means that, potentially, your salesperson might get four more no’s before they get a yes. If they’re disgruntled or less than desirable, they won’t even make it to No #2.
3. Make it Easy to Buy From You — PROCESS
When was the last time you walked a mile in your customers’ shoes to see how easy or hard it is to buy from you? Without a doubt, a most enlightening and valuable exercise. Be sure the right strategy and systems are in place, so ordering, fulfillment, and support are a breeze. Give distributors tools to make sales easier.
Focus on improving your distributor’s business. Become an asset to your distributors and they will reciprocate. Mark Mitchell, Whizard Strategy, offers this advice:
“One-step distributors have a showroom, salespeople and product inventory for a specialized product or group of products – like windows and doors. To succeed with them, get your products on their shelves, become the company they prefer to work with and help the distributor outperform his market. Use largely the same approach with two-step distributors, except for step 3, help them help their dealer customers in outselling their competitors.”
4. Make it Easy to Share — PARTS & PIECES
In the old days, you didn’t have to do as much to help Distributors sell your products. Keeping brochures and catalogs stocked. Phone support. On-time delivery. These are now the entry point. Distributors need a variety of resources—content and videos, literature and MSD sheets, social channels and apps make sales easier. The other important component is the CTA (call to action). A crucial step in guiding customers through the sales cycle. At every touch point, let them know what’s next. Where to go for more. Who to call. How to order. Alternatives for ordering. Survey to make the experience better. Prompts to share their experience.
Comparing orthodontics to manufacturing is a bit unorthodox. Sometimes seeing what’s right in front of you with new eyes can be the game-changer you’ve been missing. Know your audience, plan ahead and design an experience they’ll never forget. Turn distributors into partners and brand advocates for life.Say ahhh! and make sales easier.
Make sales easier. Schedule a call.