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Distributors’ customers are movingaway from print and toward digital and in-person shopping, according to the research outlined in our report, “What Customers Want.”
Abig takeaway from the report is the importance of building an omnichannel approach, an integrated customer experience across every customer touchpoint – electronic, print or in person. In our research with MDM, we found that the top five methods distributors are using for driving online sales include:
- Email: 22%
- Field sales reps: 22%
- Customer service reps: 19%
- SEO/Organic search: 19%
- Inside sales reps: 18%
Three of the top five methods for driving online sales involve people – your customer service reps, field sales reps and inside sales reps. These three roles are much more important in driving sales online than email and SEO/organic search.
In other words, you can’t be successful online without aligning your customer-facing personnel with your ecommerce strategy. Your field sales, inside sales and customer service reps need to advocate for and support purchases through your online channels, whether that’s looking information up online for them or helping them to get set up.
It’s all about your customer’s efficiency. They want to shop (research and evaluate a product or service) and buy (place an order) how they want, when they want. That absolutely does not mean that if they shop digitally (via search, for example) that they will necessarily buy digitally (through your website). A customer might shop in a print catalog, and then go online to buy. Or they might shop on your website, and then go to will call to pick their order up. The customer buying journey is more complex than we might imagine.
This is a big opportunity when done right, but you must show your reps what's in it for them. Start with money. There can be no hesitation that they’re going to get comped for an order in their account that came through ecommerce.
And then break down the silos between your sales channels. Show your team how ecommerce can make their interactions with the customer more efficient and can free them up to spend more time in a consultative role and less in a transactional role. At the same time customer satisfaction will soar because their experience will be consistent across channels.
Read “What Customers Want,” based on Real Results Marketing’s survey of more than 10,000 of distributors’ customers.
Jonathan Bein is the author of “What Customers Want,” published by MDM, and is the managing partner of Real Results Marketing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit realresultsmarketing.com.