Businesses that fail often have one thing in common—not getting their products into the hands of customers. Manufacturing is just one piece of the puzzle; sales and distribution is the other big piece. For manufacturers, those with an established distribution chain, as well as those looking to create a distribution/sales channel, communication is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page. Your business depends on it to be successful.
How to Streamline Communication
Think about all of the ways you and your sales staff communicate during the course of a single day. You have face-to-face or virtual meetings, field multiple phone calls, and send dozens of emails. But it doesn’t end there.
You also have text messages, social media messages, and conferencing apps to contend with. It’s no wonder that some things get lost in the shuffle and that miscommunication can happen at any link in the messaging chain.
One of the best things you can do to prevent confusion is to streamline your messaging and get everyone using the same communication channels. You can do this with a dedicated service that unites all your communication forms into one app or program.
Connecting Your Dealer Network
The first step is creating a B2B website that allows you to showcase your products for your dealers to buy direct. Then they can resell the products on their own websites as well as inside brick-and-mortar stores.
You can use software applications to enable your dealer network digitally. You can provide them with digital access to data and configuration options that can help the dealers to make more sales. This kind of access to data will make it easier for them to sell your products and helps you reach more customers. There are many apps and computer solutions that can help you to share this invaluable data and craft a marketing plan that will ultimately lead you to success.
Tips for Distribution Success
There are many different ways to grow your distribution network for success. Some of the best solutions are:
- Find the Right Distributors — Not all distributors are equal, and some have strengths that others lack. What you need to do is look at the distribution outlet that best fits your product.For instance, if you produce consumables that must be reordered over and over, then you’ll need storage facilities to ensure you’ve always got enough product on-hand to fulfill large orders. In this case, you might want to look at a wholesaler with access to a large warehouse. However, if your products need to be seen so customers can test them out and actually hold them or see them, then you may want to consider a distribution chain that features showrooms and brick-and-mortar stores.
- Synchronize Distribution Channels with CPQ — Another way to help everyone get on the same page is with a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution. If you choose to use this software solution, you’ll enable distributors and bolster their loyalty by allowing them to order specially configured products 24×7 without relying on your direct sales team or product experts.The distributor will be able to enter the specifications for the product online and have an accurate quote immediately. There will be no worries about details falling through the cracks due to multiple communication channels. Everything will go through the CPQ software and your distributors will all be on the same page and quote with confidence.
- Encourage Upselling and Cross-Selling — These two factors can be one of the single best indicators for a successful distributor. The ability to upsell or cross-sell to customers goes beyond the basic order fulfillment and will show that the distributor knows the client well, offering extra opportunities. By encouraging this, you’re encouraging your distributors to increase sales and (ultimately) your bottom line.
- Omnichannel Sales — Enabling omnichannel sales means allowing multiple ways of selling your products with a consistent and seamless experience across all of them. Obviously, the more avenues your customers have to buy your products, the better chances you will have to make sales.An omnichannel approach means moving beyond just phone or in-person orders. You should have a website that allows distributors to order using a website form and (if possible) a web-based configurator. Supporting mobile orders is more important than ever, as so many people are now using their smartphones and tablets to order configured and personalized products. The more opportunities you have, the better.
- Determine Your Metrics — You’ll need to constantly reevaluate your distribution methods and channels. Over time, something may break down and need to be refreshed.Determine how you’re going to measure success (or failure) for your distribution partners. How will they be evaluated? What will you do if they fall below a certain level? And who will be responsible for making this call? This isn’t just important for you to know. It’s important for the distributors to know so that they can focus on the right areas, ensuring their (and your) success.
Your distributors are a vital arm of your business and if you’re just starting out creating a distribution chain, you will soon find that it is a great way to ensure the success of your brand. Finding the right distributors and the opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, and use multiple outlets can also guarantee that your product is seen (and bought) by as many people as possible.