Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
March 15, 2017  |  ByMark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow
NAW-How Competency Models Give You a Competitive Advantage-Distributors in the Digital Era #7

Since starting to blog about getting results from digital tools and becoming a digital distributor, I’ve had many conversations with distribution leaders that go to whether or not a leader has a digital vision for his or her company. Often, we disagree … but that doesn’t really matter.

What matters is how digital visions stand up in the eyes of your customers, suppliers, and employees. Each constituency is essential for your success, and each has the full knowledge that digital tools are changing the way that business is done and the way that distributors create value. And, they have the expectation that distribution leaders are working to move their companies forward and to find ways to use digital tools to help their customers stay current and positioned for long-term success.


Customers value their relationship with distributors as essential suppliers of parts and services that have a direct impact on a customer’s own success and viability. Suppliers want their distributors to remain highly productive channels for their products and services—ones that are competitive, differentiated, and mutually profitable. Employees want the distribution business to survive and prosper so that they can support their lives and families while providing a challenging and rewarding work experience.

Near the end of Chapter Five: Digital Tools Must Create Value in Getting Results From Your Digital Investments, we offer 10 questions to help distributor leaders decide if their digital vision addresses all the essential elements. The questions are organized in a table, and two boxes are provided per question for a leader to check “Yes, I am prepared to answer this question in my digital vision” or “No, I am not.” We’ve updated the table below for leaders to decide if customers, suppliers, and employees agree.

We suggest that leaders go to each of the three constituencies, present and discuss their digital vision, engage in a conversation, and then decide—do they agree or disagree? Have you answered each of the questions about your digital vision in a way that is relevant and compelling for your customers, suppliers, and employees? If you haven’t, what is required to make your case? If you have, how can you build on your digital vision as a foundation for improving collaboration, productivity, and business results? We offer this suggestion as a “gut check” on your digital vision, and I look forward to hearing about what you learn in the process!

Digital Vision Gut Check: A Tool for Distribution Leaders

This tool is adapted from Table 5-4: Document Your Digital Vision on page 127 of Getting Results From Your Digital Vision


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Mark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow

Mark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow

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.

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