As we move through the final quarter of this year, there’s a crazy mix of positive and negative signals. While continued growth is forecast, markets have never been in such flux as inflation, supply chain and talent issues challenge distributors to keep customers close and happy.
Every disruptive business cycle produces an increase in churn as customers re-evaluate supplier relationships and processes, but this current cycle is like no other in terms of depth, rebound and instability.
Some sales organizations pivoted quickly to remote customer engagement strategies, but others were caught off guard and scrambled to find the right tools for the job at hand. And that job description is still changing every week. Some customers want vendors back in person, others don’t. Many longtime customer contacts accelerated retirement; their replacements are often a few decades (or more) younger. It’s harder to get and keep customer’s attention, and selling has changed forever.
Market share is won and lost on the shoulders of these cycles, and competitors are fighting hard to convert customers. The traditional tool many distributors deployed was to put more sales feet on the street. But this cycle includes the meteoric rise of competitive sourcing alternatives and digital transparency. B2B selling has entered a completely new realm where the outside sales model has become more of a blunt tool, when a broader range of precision tools are required to meet your fragmented customers and prospects where they want to do business today. And in a much more cost-effective manner.
Some distributors are winning the war for customer loyalty in this high-risk environment because they expanded their toolbox for customer retention, market share and wallet share gain beyond a one-size-fits-all outside sales model. The tools include more specific role definition for sales and service roles. Or customer self-service digital tools for sourcing and purchasing. Analytics to create data-informed sales plans and target growth opportunities is one of the most powerful and under-deployed tools out there. If you haven’t upgraded your sales toolbox, now’s the best time to raise it in the priority list to win the customer loyalty battle in 2022.
Still Time to Register for Sales GPS
Related to my thoughts above on upgrading selling tools, I hope you can join me and my co-host Mike Marks of Indian River Consulting Group Nov. 1-3 in Chicago as we engage more than 100 distribution leaders across many product sectors in a concentrated two days of learning the latest best practices and changes in distribution B2B selling today. We have best-in-class speakers: Justin Roff-Marsh, Mark Dancer, Colleen Stanley, Maria Boulden and distributor case studies in sales transformation from Earnest Machine, Gustave A. Larson Company, LineDrive, Allied Electronics & Automation, Hisco and more.
Our agenda at Sales GPS this year is our strongest yet. We have more real-time data and insight into what the future of distribution selling looks like, and how you can get there. We’ve added two sessions on sales process and market analytics. We have core sessions detailing what effective omnichannel, hybrid and inside-out sales models look like and how to adopt them, as well as best practices in sales compensation and how to fix broken comp plans. And if you are just setting out to determine your best path forward to improve your selling process, join Mike Marks and me for a half-day workshop on Nov. 1 where we bring together the best of five years of research and learning in distribution-specific sales transformation.
If you haven’t been to an MDM conference, we provide a mix of strategy, how-to, case studies and networking to push your thinking on how to stop bleeding gross margin, drive growth and generate more ROI from your sales process with an expanded set of selling tools and processes. Read more about the 2021 Sales GPS Conference here.