Your Customers Have Already Reset Distribution’s Value in the Channel

Your end customers have less time than ever to spend with manufacturer and distributor account managers. They’ve changed — have you?
Hand shows the sign of the top service on the blue background .

Demonstrating unique value has never been more difficult for distributors and manufacturers. The channel is changing and in need of new infrastructure.   

Recently, we had a manufacturing executive pose an interesting problem and question for our consideration. She talked about how it is so much more difficult to get meaningful time with end customers for both them and their distributors. The feedback they were receiving was that meaningful time with end customers was declining.  

Was it the pandemic in-person sales shutdown that caused this decline in customer availability? Will it ever get back to the pre-pandemic times? 

So, we set out to get the answers to these questions by interviewing B2B end customers across Industrial and Construction markets.  

At our session at MDM’s upcoming SHIFT | The Future of Distribution conference — to be held Sept. 25-27 in Broomfield, Colorado — we will be presenting the full results of this research, and also provide strategies and tactics to help address the problem.  

The four key factors making it more difficult to get time and meaningful attention from your end customers are as follows: 

Talent Shortages — End customers, manufacturers, and distributors all have faced labor shortages over the past few years, which have reduced the number of in-person interactions.  

Decision Making is Becoming More Distributed to Teams Versus Individuals The distributor, manufacturer, and end customer monarch model with individual authority over many decisions is moving towards a team decision making unit. 

Self-Service Mindset — Increasingly, more end customers desire a self-service digital experience over the in-person call experience.  

Organizational Change — Organizations have evolved how they communicate. End customers and your organizations have instituted some major changes that have been accelerated by the pandemic. The old culture, where everyone shows up to the same office, has been changed to the age of Zoom and Teams meetings. 

For most distributors, these changes are leading to a decline in the effectiveness of relationship selling and requiring new ways to build value with end customers beyond the relationship.   

For manufacturers, these changes affect your brand position and preference. This reduction in direct access to drive your brand and value proposition erodes your brand and position with end customers. 

These new realities require that distributors and manufacturers work closer together to reinforce their collective position in the market by providing compounding value.  

In our speaking session at SHIFT, Dorn Group will provide insights on how manufacturer and distributor leaders are jointly developing innovation and modern sales & marketing programs.  

We will also present findings from our recent Dorn research on the state of manufacturer-direct channels. The new selling realities create opportunities for nimble distributors and manufacturers to create value-based programs that drive market share growth in 2023 and beyond.  

We hope to see you at MDM SHIFT in Colorado! 

James Dorn
J Schneider

James Dorn is the president & CEO of the Dorn Group. He is a proven leader with more than 25 years of consulting experience helping growth-minded executives across manufacturing and distribution firms build modern revenue growth strategies. James is a true innovator and results-oriented executive that draws upon a mix of market-back principles, competitive intelligence, agile strategic planning and data-driven decisions to help commercial teams more effectively acquire, grow and retain customers. He emphasizes the power of alignment across the product, marketing, sales and service teams for helping industrial firms build more efficient and effective business models that win market share.

J Schneider is managing director of the consulting practice at Dorn Group. He is an author, public speaker and proven leader with 25 years’ experience in developing and implementing transformational growth strategies within a variety of global industries.

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