I frequently visit distributors while riding along with my client’s sales reps. I recently spent a week calling on several distributors a day and I saw the same missed opportunity in each one.
An opportunity for building product companies to increase their sales.
The missed opportunity is very simple. It’s point of sale. Everyday manufacturers spend boatloads of money for point of sale in big boxes and dealers. And they’d like to spend even more in big boxes, if only big boxes would let them. Most of this money is spent to reach consumers who will buy a product once.
It’s more efficient to reach a few people who buy your product everyday.
A successful distributor has hundreds of tradesmen coming to their order desk everyday. And many of them come back day after day to make more purchases of your products. When you look around this area, you see it’s usually a mess and a missed opportunity.
There is an opportunity to tell contractors why your brand is better or why they should recommend an upgraded product of yours. The other benefit is that counter people get to look at your message everyday and may actually suggest it to a contractor.
Here’s what’s wrong with distributor order desk areas.
1. Distributors are not merchandisers. They don’t see how they could be more successful by realizing the value of the space around the order desk.
2. It’s usually the sales rep that takes the initiative to hang up a sign or poster that he just happens to have. It’s rarely something that his marketing department prepared for a distributor so the message is usually wrong or weak.
Here’s how to fix it.
Marketing departments need to take a fresh look at the role of the distributor. They need to visit some distributors and just watch what happens. The tough part for us marketing people is its best to do this around 7 am when it’s at its busiest. We’re not used to being up that early.
Armed with this knowledge the marketing person should develop some simple point of sale with the right message for the sales rep to take to the distributor. This doesn’t have to be an additional budget. It should be a small enough cost that it can come from another program.
I also noticed almost every distributor has flat screens behind their counters and most of them were off. They told me manufacturers don’t provide them any content so they show sports when they are on. Why don’t you provide them some video about your product? It needs to work without a voice over.
Every year at budgeting time and when any new product is introduced, the marketing department needs to consider the role of the distributor and how they can support them.
Companies think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars, or more, to reach contractors at trade shows. For a fraction of that, they could reach these same contractors everyday.