Contact us today:
“We’re really rethinking our rep/dealer/distributor force, in this internet age. What are your thoughts?”
Our President’s point-of-view…
Some companies, having actually received orders off their online rfq forms, have stumbled into thinking they no longer need those vital links (no pun at all, believe me) in their sales chain, namely, their reps, dealers, distributors or even their offshore agents. They tell us the age of the internet obviates the need for such personnel and the corresponding cost.
They are just plain wrong.
For numerous reasons, not the least of which are the local representation in a business community by someone who’s known to it AND the corresponding frequency of contact made, you all need these folks fronting your product message. For years, we’ve told our industrial clients that they’re not in the mail order or retail business. That’s as true today, even in the age of instant online purchases and even, I admit, in the age of one client who sold an $88,000 piece of equipment directly from their website to a company they’d never sold previously.
Your front line troops are exactly that, your first line of attack (or sometimes defense, when the internet rumors fly) in the market. Beyond sales contacts, they provide customer assistance in many, often unseen ways. We’ve worked for dozen of electrical clients over the years and there is no industry with a more multi-layered distribution channel to reach the various OEM, contractor and end user segments of that huge market. Quite naturally, the electrical market was one of the first ones we serve where clients began to think they could do quite nicely, eliminating a link in the sales chain. The smart ones have realized it’s not true, as each played and still plays a vital role in product delivery, but even more-so in product conditioning, product persuasion, product positioning and product promotion. Yes, just as their advertising, PR, direct/blast emailings, trade shows and other promotional tactics do, the reps, distributors and wholesalers in the territories each play a role in helping the overall marketing communication effort succeed.
Companies who overlook that fact are just dumb and will likely suffer the consequences of such short-sighted thinking.
The same applies to you capital equipment companies and even you contract manufacturers who might consider eliminating your reps or dealers. “Gee, Tim, we build a lot of custom stuff and our engineers can handle most everything online. We really wonder if those other guys are necessary.” The answer is a resounding YES. It’s a collateral consequence of the internet that MORE companies who once sold locally or regionally can now do business nationwide, even worldwide, owing to the online communication channel. However, along with this broader business base come all those “local” factors that must be taken into account. These might include local electrical codes, shipping restrictions, installation challenges and, on the international scene, currency and other cultural considerations. Having at least some regional representation can be very helpful in this process.
One longtime client of ours devotes an entire page of their catalog to extol the virtues of their reps, detailing the company’s philosophy for their use. Call me, I’ll share it with you, as I’ve handled the client personally for 35 years and wrote that page myself!
Our Director of Social Media’s point-of-view…
The point of social media is to make you and/or your company MORE accessible, not less human. Social media should be used to help give your company and your products life and a personality.
Human connection; having a real person answer questions, solve problems and attend to clients or potential clients needs is still a necessary part of a thriving business.
One should not replace the other, they should work hand-in-hand to support each other.