Like you, we at MDM have been grounded from meeting face to face with our customers — you! — since mid-March. We’ve been making up for the lost engagement in the same ways you have, through regular Zoom meetings, presentations, conference calls and a slew of online events in various forms, such as our recent virtual Sales GPS conference (available on-demand).
Hopefully you’ve also caught our MDM Live Friday webcast series. If not, visit the archive for a virtual master class taught by fellow distributors on how to tackle change, adversity and future planning. These will continue each month for at least the rest of the year.
My colleague Eric Smith and I have particularly enjoyed talking with respondents to our annual MDM Trends survey over the last couple of months. MDM reaches out to willing survey respondents each year to gauge your take on the market dynamics for the coming year, but just like everything else in 2020, the calls were a bit different this time around. Conversations centered on how much business disruption you’ve experienced from the COVID-19-induced economic shutdown and the ways you are transforming your businesses to best operate in today’s socially distanced reality.
The Moral of the Story
As you will see in this issue, we’re sharing the results of those calls a bit differently as well. Rather than our typical practice of picking out and then expanding on four or five central themes for 2021, we are bringing you what I’m referring to as the Aesop’s Fables of distribution, except we skip past the trouble (you already know that part) and straight to the lesson.
It’s no surprise that nearly everyone we spoke with indicated that the pandemic has led them to accelerate the digitization of their business. The majority of Trends survey respondents (62%) specified they intend to grow revenue over the next 12 months by improving e-commerce capabilities. While an identical percentage said they will cut costs by streamlining and automating processes.
What I found interesting when digging further into these topics during my phone calls with distributors is that many explained how they intend to do so with existing technology they already have available to them. For example, utilizing features they currently pay for as part of their ERP system but never previously felt they had the time to learn or implement.
I’ve even noticed this practice in my home life, where my kids, stuck at home with their parents for months on end, have been digging through the long-neglected game cabinet and teaching themselves how to play Monopoly, chess and other games — the real, time-consuming way.
Although there’s a simple natural satisfaction in getting the most out of something you’ve already purchased, in the case of distribution technology, the pandemic and its resulting social distancing mandates have confirmed what’s been brewing in the field for years: Digital transformation is no longer something to get to ‘when there’s time,’ it’s an imperative for ongoing survival. And now is the time.