I am spending time this week at the annual meetings of the Power Transmission Distributors Association and the Fluid Power Distributors Association (they are co-located this year in San Diego).
- Become market-driven by investing in your sweet spot and assuming responsibility for business development. That means pointing sales representatives in the right direction. "Use sales reps offensively, not defensively," Marks said. In other words: "Don’t leave it all up to the salespeople."
- Segment your market. "It’s not about SIC codes," he said. "Segment customers by the potential to grow, and the cost to grow." If something is in your sweet spot, the potential will be high, and the cost low.
- Build a process so that you can have better visibility in customer purchases so that you can see when customers start going away. Don’t just watch overall sales trends.
- Narrow product offering. "You need an all-star line card." Recognize that consolidation in suppliers will continue to occur. Look closely at your suppliers’ channel strategies.
- Focus on having the right people. He cited ABC Supply Co., a building products distributor that focuses on employees first, knowing that happy and engaged employees will mean more sales and better service. "If you didn’t own the business, would you work for yourself?"