Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

Integrating Strategic Pricing to Optimize Profitable Growth – Intelligent Sales and Profit Acceleration #7

In my last article, I touched on strategic pricing by discussing the tension between sales and pricing. Strategic pricing for most manufacturers and distributors isn’t truly a mature discipline (witness the continuing reliance on Cost-Plus, endless pricing overrides and the neglect of contracts and customer-specific pricing agreements), but it’s stuck in a deadlock between sales and [...]

Transition Your Sales Force into a Market-Making Machine in 2021 – Value Creation Strategy #17

The field sales rep is as American as baseball. But the traditional role of the B2B field sales rep was on a steady decline even before the pandemic, as we have lost roughly 25% of the B2B field sales jobs since 2015. In the wake of COVID-19, with tighter budgets and a spike in e-commerce use, transforming bloated market-serving sales teams into a lean market-making force has become even [...]

Driving E-commerce Excellence: The Critical Role of a Digital Experience Platform – Differentiating with Digital Experience #2

Expanding purchasing and sales online can mean great things for a distributor of B2B products — new markets, more revenue and less stress on your in-person sales force. However, for many B2B companies moving into digital for the first time, it can be overwhelming to make sense of all the new terminology, principles, metrics and worst of all — the initialisms! “CMSs, ERPs, and PIMs, oh [...]

High-Margin Ad Dollars Aren’t Just for the Amazons of the World – Leveraging the Power of AI #23

Amazon recently reported advertising dollars grew an astonishing 66% year over year to $8 billion in the fourth quarter. Ad sales on the platform surpassed $21 billion in 2020, up by 50% from 2019. In other words, sticky customer relationships are paying off — in the billions — for Amazon. When distributors learn to leverage AI to grab customers, they can begin seeing the payoff, [...]

Resolving the Tension Between Sales and Pricing – Intelligent Sales and Profit Acceleration #6

Many distributors may consider strategic pricing to be a relatively mature opportunity because it’s been around for a few decades now. After all, lots of distributors have built pricing matrices, established controls and put pricing managers in place. While this may be the case, many still treat pricing as a checklist activity, without any intention of making it a key strategic and [...]

Don’t Personalize Your B2B E-commerce Site, Contextualize It – Differentiating with Digital Experience #1

Personalization is table stakes for any successful e-commerce website that offers more than a handful of products. As the diversity of products grows and each item becomes more targeted in use, it's not practical to present one's full selection to all customers (i.e., "Results 1-25 of 151,432 products"). It falls to site merchandisers to refine those results and decide which products to present [...]

How AI Can Help Distributors Fix the Persistent Backorder Problem – Leveraging the Power of AI #22

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain linger in 2021. The most visible challenge for distributors has been extended lead times, which means frustrating backorders for customers who need product now — and not three weeks from now. That’s unlikely to change soon. Near the start of the shutdowns in 2020, lead times were up more than 200%, according to the Institute for [...]

Portfolio Management: Distributors’ Advantage Over Amazon – Driving Performance with Analytics #10

Amazon continues to be a disruptive threat to distributors with its massive footprint and unparalleled efficiency. As I watch the industry respond and attempt to adapt to Amazon’s inroads, it reminds me of what I saw while working on Wall Street into the early 2000s. At that time, discount brokers began to use their scale and efficiency to challenge full-service brokers in the same way that [...]

Product Expertise Isn’t Enough for B2B Buyers Anymore – Intelligent Sales and Profit Acceleration #5

It’s no secret that for years most distributors have neglected core sales skills training for their sellers. There are several reasons for this benign neglect of sales skills investment. First, historically, industrial B2B buyers didn’t necessarily need a highly skilled seller. Their purchases were largely needs-driven — not discretionary — and so the core need was product or [...]

How to Do Strategic Planning When Nothing Is Certain – Value Creation Strategy #16

How do you plan when all certainty has gone out the window more than once in the past year? Even with an end to the pandemic in sight, distributors may be looking at their 2020 business plan and wondering if it’s even worth putting a plan together for 2021. It’s tempting to stay light on your feet and be ready to pivot. Despite the uncertainty of the markets, supply chains and customer [...]

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