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How To Adopt A Hunting And Farming Approach To Distributor Sales

Do you want to know the secret to distributor sales growth?

In more than fifteen years of working with independent distributors and suppliers, there’s one thing that separates those who consistently hit their goals and those who don’t: the ability to effectively hunt, win, and maintain new business opportunities through the use of sales automation.

Industrial suppliers who struggle to develop their distributor sales teams, recruit new talent, implement technology, and develop customer buyer journeys fail to rise above the typical leaky-bucket sales cycles that leave them feeling stuck.

Legacy personnel, technology, and processes keep your sales reps stuck in the perpetual cycle of having to babysit customer accounts out of fear of losing an order to a competitor. The answer is to automate the ordering process for existing customers so that your sales team spends less time with happy customers and more time growing dormant stagnant accounts.

What do Customers Actually Want?

It might be easier to define what your customers DO NOT want first. Modern B2B buyers do not want micromanagement of their accounts . They want you when they need you… and that’s it. Does that sound sad? Does that remove the importance of the “human element”? Not at all!

This change in buyer behavior is suitable for distributor sales business and when coupled with a purpose-driven outside sales model, it has the potential to help you reach customers you may have never been able to service before.

Don’t take our word for it. 

Research outlined in a presentation by Maria Boulden, Vice President and Executive Partner with the consulting firm Gartner, found that 72% of buyers today would avoid engaging a sales rep. This figure was under 33% before the COVID-19 pandemic.

McKinsey & Company supports it with a digital survey of more than 1,000 business purchasers revealing over 90% of B2B buyers conduct research online before contacting a sales rep of a distribution sales business, and 84% prefer to make repeat purchases through online channels, given their convenience, cross-channel services, and features.

Business moves too fast for your outside sales reps to spend time buying donuts and small-talking their customers. Ask your top accounts what they want from your relationship, and you are likely to find that pricing, availability, convenience, speed, and transparency are the highest priorities on their list.

REVEALED: The Secret to Distributor Sales Growth is Digital Transformation

Hunters go out and find new accounts, while farmers tend to and expand existing accounts. Industrial suppliers who can increase their scale and sophistication to keep pace with manufacturers, buyer groups, and competitors – as they explore newer markets beyond geographical boundaries or stay present whenever their customers want them – will thrive in the years to come.

Finding the right balance between Farmer vs. Hunter sales approach online is the stepping stone to success.

Industrial selling online is not all about front-end eCommerce websites but continually optimizing the mix of customers to capture high-growth and high-margin segments along with enhancing internal processes for increased efficiency.

But how you can grow your distributor sales business online:

  • The priority here is to ensure your CRM has the technical capability to talk with your marketing automation platform. Further, CRM data can be used in many different ways- ranging from digital upselling to personalizing content to email marketing.Flexiable online payment options such as payment tracking,discounted purchasing,EMI and other customized purchase options will also help close deals faster.
  • Improve back office efficiency through online accounting with features like a purchase order system, and bank synchronization, automatically generating invoices, billing, or managing payables, receivables, and credit. 
  • Serving a favorable mix of customers through online Inventory Management that offers real-time stock visibility, category-wise & brand-wise inventory analysis, and warehouse management.
  • Leading suppliers have a sophisticated understanding of the role of each customer segment. Sales Enablement modules with features like workflow enhancement & tracking, deal closing assistance, sales tracking/forecasting, and performance measurement, etc. are used. 

Further, the race to sustainability today is pushing digital transformation of all areas of your business. You can make use of automation tools to get rid of file cabinets and barcode scanners to eliminate paper in the warehouse. The right vendor can further help you with custom software digitalization to make other areas of your business processes sustainable.

You may set up this (example) SMART Goal:

“By June 30, 2023, we will implement a sales strategy that shifts our team’s attention to new and underperforming  accounts while automating our existing business. Our goal is to increase new business revenue by 25% while reducing customer churn by 10%.

Action Item Checklist:

  • We have the right people on the bus and people in the right places.
  • We have a documented sales strategy with customer stratification and target accounts.
  • We can automate sales touch points through email, in-app messaging, and SMS.
  • We have a CRM that everyone knows how to use and we have minimum activity requirements.
  • We hold our sales team accountable for finding and winning new business.

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