Most distributors already know that relationship-building is essential for earning repeat sales. Distributors who want to stand apart from the competition have to go beyond the expected strategies. With these seven tips, you can turn your existing relationships into new growth opportunities.
Provide Solutions, Not Products
When you start listening to the challenges your customers are trying to solve, you put yourself in a position to offer solutions, rather than products. As sales expert Dave Kahle writes, many salespeople squander the opportunity to learn more about their customers and instead have the same conversations with the same people. Understanding your customers’ needs, strategies and challenges positions you as a resource. Moreover, once you understand the customer’s goals and hurdles, you have a perfect opportunity to upsell additional products and services.
Make Sure Your Team Knows Your Product
In this day and age, your customers can easily find product information themselves with a simple online search. With that said, any employee who interacts with customers should know more about the product than what’s in the brochure. Have your sales force talk to manufacturers about what makes their products unique. Arm your team in advance to answer any question. If a salesperson doesn’t have an answer, have them tell the customer—and then track it down.
Sell On Value, Not Price
In the building materials business, customers often want to find the lowest cost product because that’s what their customers expect. Arm your customers with the information they can present to end-users about the true value of a product. Do their customers want the lowest price or the greatest value? How can you help provide that value?
It’s better to say “No” than to promise something you can’t deliver. As ProSales points out, even if you don’t want to say “No,” it’s okay to say “Not now.” Make sure you have all of the information you need to meet the customer’s demands before promising to deliver anything.
Know and Respect Your Competition
It’s wise to remember that your customers have options. What makes your business the right solution for them? To best answer this, you have to know your competition. Listen to your customers, and read local newspapers and trade publications for insight. Be able to articulate what makes your products and services the best solution. If you can’t meet a customer’s needs, you can still serve as a resource by pointing them to a distributor that can.
Follow Up with Customers
Experts agree that many end-users are becoming numb to the barrage of advertisements from brands trying to earn their business. Instead, try a personal touch. Consider calls and emails that ask if that new product you sold the customer met their needs. You could build out a customer rewards program that offers points when a certain amount of money has been spent. Alternatively, you could start sending out links or copies of articles from magazines that are relevant to your customers with a note. Personal follow-ups are critical for keeping business relationships in place with your top customers.
Ask for Referrals
Yes, it’s important to provide knowledge to your customer—but it’s okay to ask something of them too. The experts at The Distributor Board point out that few distributors seek referrals. Perhaps you don’t believe your customers have peers who might use the same products and/or services or you’re concerned the request might make their customers uncomfortable. But relationship-building should be two-sided. Talk to one of your top customers next time you meet and ask if they might recommend your products. The real experts are networking with peers at events or partnering with companies that may have needs like theirs.
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