Distributors often tell us that sales reps tend to offer inventory-control solutions like vending reactively rather than proactively. This means that rather than reaching out to customers and confidently offering the solution, they are only providing it as an option when the customer asks (which is sometimes in response to a competitor swooping in with the offer of a free machine).
This is unfortunate because inventory-control solutions like vending should be one of the first programs that sales reps offer to your customers because of the positive impact they can have on customer retention, new business and increased spend. What’s more, it’s harder for larger companies to compete with the personalized approach independents can take to this service.
Distributors need powerful selling tools that set them apart. We believe non-retail vending programs that drive inventory control are one such tool. Here’s why:
Increased sales. A distributor is almost never getting 100% of a customer’s business. If you are already working with a customer, the additional business required to make vending implementation worthwhile is a no brainer. We’ve seen upward of $10,000 in additional business secured each month by distributors who have prioritized growing wallet share as part of their inventory-management and vending programs. Customers are motivated to increase their business with you because of the goodwill of a well-serviced machine.
Once customers grasp the benefits of inventory management through vending, which often includes inventory-consumption reductions of more than 30%, even the most reluctant ones will be eager to shift spend. One of our distributors was astonished to see a sales increase of “at least 40%” in one customer after placing a vending machine. The results speak for themselves and naturally lead to increased sales. That’s good for the sales rep, and it’s good for the company.
Ease of implementation. Many sales reps falsely believe that industrial vending machines are complicated and difficult to get up and running. But not all machines are created equal. Some are actually plug-and-play and meet the requirements for inventory control that your customers are looking for.
For distributors’ sales reps, that means less time invested in configuring machines and customer trainings and more time reaping the benefits of industrial vending. Software training can be accomplished in short, online sessions and hardware installation can be competed independently of a supplier visit. Sales reps shouldn’t fear vending implementation or use that as an excuse to not push vending as an option for many customers.
Ease of management. Distribution sales reps wear many hats and have busy schedules. Many sales reps avoid selling vending because they are afraid the burden of management and in-person inventory counts will fall to them, reducing the amount of time they have available to develop new business. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, cloud-based inventory-control software tracks on-hand inventory online, saving reps the trouble of visiting customers in person to conduct manual inventory counts. The software enables automatic reordering and reduces stock-outs which saves sales reps from investing time in heroic recoveries and writing purchase orders. Sales efficiencies and the ease of managing vending machines make up for the minimal time spent re-stocking machines.
Distributors who implement inventory-control programs through vending tell us time and time again that the investment is well worth the effort up front. By educating sales reps on the benefits to be gained, they can move from being your biggest obstacles to your best sellers.
Mark Hill has 40 years' experience in industrial distribution and vending. He is the founder of vending machine and inventory control software company 1sourcevend. Learn more at 1sourcevend.com or contact him at [email protected]