Align and Conquer
Hungry conglomerates. Tightening budgets. Online print purchasing. The traditional reseller channel has taken its fair share of hits over the years. With competition at an all-time high, how do you, the distributor, win over accounts and attract long-term business? The answer is simple. You leverage the capabilities of your supply-chain partner. Together, you can match the unique needs of each client or prospect, turning the impossible task into business as usual.
But this level of comfort isn’t achieved overnight. The right kind of conversation must take place—the kind that is predicated on trust. Print+Promo reached out to three industry suppliers—Roger Buck, director of marketing, Flesh Co, St. Louis; Melinda Christiancy, sales and customer service manager, Label Art, Wilton, N.H.; and Allen Simon, president, Datatel Resources Corporation, Monaca, Pa.—to find out how all parties can benefit from a successful alliance. Read on to learn how they support their partners and what they’ve learned along the way.
Print+Promo (P+P): What kinds of business conversations motivate you and how do you take those conversations to the next level?
Roger Buck (RB): Conversations that revolve around improvements. This could be a document design or process driven by printed documents. From there you can use questions to drill down to the core goals of the client and help fashion the best solution to reach those goals.
Melinda Christiancy (MC): We provide over 100 quotes a day to our distributor partners. It is sometimes easy to tell what opportunities are long shots and what opportunities have potential to become more. When the distributor is engaged and can answer probing questions about an intended application, we are motivated. Our goal is to train and support our customer service team to be able to help our distributors with the majority of their daily needs, but when a project requires special needs, we involve the account’s sales manager.
Allen Simon (AS): The most important conversations are when we learn what it’s going to take to secure the order and secure the business, because that means we have transitioned ourselves from one of many providing a price. When the distributor opens up a little bit on what it’s going to take to win the business, things get elevated and that’s where we can be of additional assistance to the selling skills the distributor already has. We’re not in business to process quotes; we’re in business to get orders—and to get orders you really need to work with the distributor closely and really become focused on what we (Datatel Resources and the distributor) need to do to get the business. We move it along from the exercise of providing a quote to the back-and-forth of getting the business and then all of a sudden you’re at a higher level.
P+P: In your opinion, when do the most impactful moments in business happen?
RB: There’s a point in conversations with a new prospect or client where trust is achieved. This may come from sharing (educating) information, products, solutions or other knowledge. But, you hit a point where the prospect views you as a credible source. That elevates all future conversations to a new level.
MC: We recently have been discussing throughout our organization, at all levels, what events (even the smallest ones) drive success and create positive impact for our company and our customers:
- When we get referrals
- When a dealer moves existing business to us
- When an order closes and the PO arrives
- When we get a quote for a new project
- When we deliver early
Individually these things don’t alter the course of business, but the moment a member of our team realizes how their individual success has created a positive outcome, those are impactful moments for the business.
AS: Ultimately, I think the most impactful moments happen when you get the order. That’s what you have to focus on. It doesn’t do any good to quote a good price if you really don’t have a chance to get the order. But, as you lead up to that, [impactful moments happen] when you can provide that extra service or that extra element of support that you know the end-user, through the help of the distributor, is embracing. For us, that could be something as simple as maybe a warehousing program that addresses what the distributor needs and the end-user needs that they’re not currently doing or taking advantage of. Or, maybe that could be a conversation about quality—we have a very professional customizable quality document that we can put in the hands of the end-user through the distributor that demonstrates we can do the job, and we can do the job right. To know that you’ve given the end-user something that they haven’t had before—that they find valuable—is a pretty impactful moment in our industry.
P+P: How do you support your distributor partners?