May 25, 2012 - Modern Distribution Management

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May 25, 2012

The State of Call Centers & Inside Sales in Distribution

Inside sales can be a powerful source of growth, especially when integrated with field sales, e-commerce and direct response marketing. This article provides a snapshot of how distributors who responded to a recent MDM survey use inside salespeople and call centers. A notable finding: Nearly half of respondents said that their inside sales reps proactively sell less than 10 percent of the time. The authors argue that this needs to change.

While social media and e-commerce are gathering increasing attention among distributors, some of the most successful have utilized call centers to support effective inside sales as part of an integrated multi-channel offering. However, in a recent MDM survey, the vast majority of distributors have limited inside sales functions or outbound-only telephone sales (see Figure 1) in large part because they may not understand the power of inside sales by itself or in conjunction with field sales, e-commerce and direct response marketing.

For many, inside sales involves ordering, technical support, returns handling and credit management. Rarely does it involve …

Commentary: Make Disruptive Technology Work for You

I’m a history buff. The Sears Roebuck and Co. catalog from 1900 looks a little like a cartoon today, but it holds an important lesson for distribution in 2012. On the cover is a picture of a globe, a cornucopia horn with products spilling out, a banner proclaiming to be the “cheapest supply house on earth,” and two sentences with a very important message that goes like this:

THIS BOOK… tells just what your storekeeper at home pays for everything he buys and will prevent him from overcharging you on anything you buy from him.

I thought about that Sears catalog as I mulled over the impact of Amazon’s launch …

Byrnes: Don’t Be Everything to Everyone

In the recent MDM Webcast, Selling for Profit: Turbocharge Your Profit Growth through Market Development and Sales Management, Jonathan Byrnes, senior lecturer at MIT and author of “Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink,” said companies must find a unique value proposition that provides the right value to the right customers at the right time instead of trying to be everything to everyone. Here’s a summary of the webcast, now available on-demand or on DVD at

Is your value proposition so strong that after trying your service three times, new customers will be hooked for life? Is it something that will have them viewing you as a partner rather than just another vendor?

Jonathan Byrnes, senior lecturer at MIT, posed these questions to attendees of the recent MDM Webcast, Selling for Profit: Turbocharge Your Profit Growth through Market Development and Sales Management. If you answered no, you might want to …

Small Business Confidence Rises

Small business owners have more confidence in their local economy than the national economy, according to the inaugural Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. When asked about the next 12 months, 42 percent expects their own local economic conditions to improve compared to 35 percent who expects the national economy will improve.

The survey also found managing the ongoing success of their business creates more stress for small business owners than any other aspect of their lives.

Maintaining a small business causes small business owners twice as much stress as …

ISM Semiannual Forecast: Manufacturing Revenues to Grow 4.5% in 2012

Economic growth is expected to continue in the U.S. throughout the remainder of 2012, say purchasing and supply executives in their spring 2012 Semiannual Economic Forecast. Expectations for the remainder of 2012 continue to be positive in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. These projections are part of the forecast issued by the Institute for Supply Management.

Manufacturing Sector Summary

Sixty-six percent of respondents forecast revenues will be 9.5 percent greater in 2012, 15 percent expect a 12.1 percent decline, and 19 percent foresee no change. This yields an overall average expectation of 4.5 percent revenue growth among manufacturers in 2012, which is …

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