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In the past, distributors would often sacrifice margins to gain market share and drive the topline. However, such tactics negate a strategic pricing process, rendering it nearly nonexistent. Without process, your people must make pricing decisions in a vacuum. As hard as they might try to compensate for and cope with inefficiencies, and as effective as their efforts might be in the short-term, you can’t expect them to sustain healthy margins in the long run.
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Customers continue to leverage digital and e-commerce tools to improve their buying processes. But for many distributors, their outside sales model isnt working as effectively as in the past to keep up with how customers want to buy. That growing gap is why a dedicated part of our research and coverage has been on the strategies, best practices and tactics for how to transform the sales process to reduce selling costs and increase efficiency and customer engagement. And its why the prize when it comes to increasing sales performance is on specific ways to become a more buyer-centric seller.

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Introducing any of these jobs product manager, chief digital officer, sales enablement manager, trusted adviser and director of inventory has the potential to make your company more open to change, better embrace the customer experience and streamline operations to meet evolving business demands.

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Most distributors dont view their inside sales team as a proactive sales force. Its relatively rare for inside sales reps to make outbound calls to generate more business or to employ active selling techniques. In fact, in a survey, nearly two-thirds of distributor respondents told Real Results Marketing their inside sales force spends less than 25% of their time proactively selling.

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Analytics-driven operations can deliver staggering profit gains, but it takes a visionary leader who won’t accept a company’s current limited analytical expertise. In this article the author, who will outline these concepts at MDM’s Pricing & Profitability Summit, www.pnp.com, Apr. 15-17, argues that distributors can shift from a revenue-share mindset to a profit-share mindset by zeroing in on three key metrics: gross profit, cost-to-serve and net before compensation. It also outlines how the concepts of line-item profit analytics and quantum costing can create an effective analytics environment. This article is an excerpt from a chapter in A Distributor’s Guide to Analytics, a book published by MDM.

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January is typically not a big sales month for Earnest Machine, a 72-year-old fastener distribution company out of Cleveland. But this January was not typical. The company was up 29% at the start of 2019, said CEO Kirk Zehnder. Speaking last month at MDMs Sale GPS Conference, Zehnder explained the radical shift in Earnests sales department structure that he credits for the boost.

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Theres a lot of talk about whether or not the U.S. is looking at an economic recession in the near future and the impact a market downturn could have on distributors profitability in the process. But the truth is, distributors should be examining their pricing strategy no matter how well or poorly the economy is performing, says Al Bates, principal at Distribution Performance Project. Whether its a good market or a bad market, youve got to get control of your pricing, he says.

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The pandemic didn’t stop Lawson Products from pursuing the largest acquisition in its history. Mike DeCata, president and CEO, and Brian Hoekstra, vice president, mergers and acquisitions, spoke with MDM about the company’s latest deal, how they navigated it during a global pandemic and how their M&A appetite remains strong even amid today’s economic upheaval.

Investment Banking Directory

The MDM Investment Banks in Distribution directory is a listing of firms with expertise in the wholesale distribution industry.

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