Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

"This research report is extremely powerful and it left a big impression on me. It’s a call to action for distribution CEOs across the country to get our act together if we want to meet the changing needs of our customers and be successful in this fast-evolving digital age. This report conveys a lot of insights about what digital strategy we need to develop with our leadership teams, and it also offers ideas for how we can gain cooperation from our manufacturers and vendors so that we have a cohesive distribution channel strategy with a consistent brand identity that is seamless to the customer and services their needs. This is a short and easy read, and I highly recommend that distributors and manufacturers read it."

—Ron Calhoun, President and CEO, The Palmer-Donavin Mfg. Co.

Mark Dancer

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Now available for immediate download to your desktop as a PDF file.

Learn how to build killer strategic capabilities to compete against disruptors and excite your customers.

Distributor CEOs have been wrestling with the challenges and opportunities of digital technologies for some time now. On the one hand, many distribution leaders are feeling pressured by disruptors, like Amazon, to respond to an existential threat and do something to ensure the survival of their businesses. On the other hand, digital tools are tools for modernizing businesses, independent of external threats, as distributors push for improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, profits. Whatever the motivation, your decision to adopt and use digital tools is a significant leadership event, one that must balance competing claims about what works and what doesn’t against the ability to earn a return-on-investment over the short- and long-term. You’re not alone if you’re like other distribution leaders who are still uncomfortable with digital technology; but you have to face your fears and push your company forward.

In an easier-to-digest, 53-page electronic report format, CEO Insights on Innovating the Distributor for the Digital Age provides updates on digital progress—acknowledging success where it has been achieved in the distribution industry—and provides a nudge and a push to keep trying, harder and harder, to push your business forward. Digital tools are changing the way we live and the way we work, and they are changing the way you run your business.

Author Mark Dancer reached out to more than 100 distributor CEOs through conversations, online surveys, and work sessions. In many cases, CEOs provided their personal and direct feedback. Others referred him to the individual most responsible for driving digital strategy and progress for their company. He also sought advice for distributor CEOs from manufacturers, customers and experts on innovation, technology and organizational change, again through surveys and conversations with more than 50 leaders. The goal of this research is to provide an update on progress toward becoming a digital distributor and to suggest strategic solutions for competing in the digital age. He builds on the research, insights and recommendations shared in his previous three books and offers new information and understanding in shorter format. This research report can be read in and around your business activities and used as a strategy tool with your leadership team, project managers and employees to help focus efforts, answer questions, and build consensus and, ultimately, progress.

Whether you are responding to disruptive threats or taking a leap to define change on your own terms, you and your leadership team must take a hard look at where you are and where you can go. The digital age is here, and it’s time to carve out your space as a distribution leader running a successful business.

This research report is part of an ongoing series that includes: Getting Results From Your Digital Investments, Becoming a Digital Distributor: Strategies and Tools That Create Value and Getting the Most Out of CRM: Best Practices for Wholesaler-Distributors.

Subscribe to this blog series, “Distributors in the Digital Era,” to stay current with digital transformation topics.


What Distributors Are Saying

“This research report speaks to distribution CEOs in two important ways. First, it talks about the need for leadership right now so that we can treat and serve our customers differently. As CEOs, we can’t just react. We need to create a digital vision for our companies that clearly conveys where we want to go to stay competitive and to win in today’s digital age. This report provides a variety of options to help us understand what a digital vision is all about so that we can make better decisions on how to create it.

Second, it addresses the perilous distributor–manufacturer relationship and provides insights to help us analyze the problems we’re having and improve our partnerships so that they not only survive but thrive in this disruptive digital environment. As distributors, we have to take the lead in conversations with our manufacturers, vendors and suppliers, and together, set strategic plans that work for all parties. This is a great read on timely topics that we’re all dealing with. Everyone in the supply chain should read this report.”

—George Pattee, Chairman, Parksite Inc.

About the Author

Mark Dancer

Mark Dancer founded the Network for Business Innovation to drive awareness, advocacy and excellence for B2B innovation, and to enable an exchange of ideas between leaders on business transformation, technology adoption, social impact and community engagement. For more than 30 years, Mark has worked with leading companies to achieve go-to-market excellence across a wide range of industries in developed and emerging markets.