IRCG Insights Blog

5 Areas of Your Business to Examine if You Want to Stay Relevant in 2020

Written by Mike Marks on Thursday, 18 April 2019. Posted in Distribution

5 Areas of Your Business to Stay Relevant in 2020When the ball drops, and 2019 flips to 2020, will you have closed some of the gap between you and your most innovative distributor competitors, or will that gap have widened so far you can no longer cross it?

Take action now to ensure your distribution company stays relevant with a sustainable plan to address the following five areas of your business:

How are you using your most expensive resource?

If your outside sales reps are spending most of their time writing quotes, providing product information, managing returns, and handling supplier issues, you’re squandering your most expensive resource. A market-based sales model that incorporates specialized roles and digital tools is far more efficient and effective, but to do that, you must realign your financial and sales resources to each customer segment’s needs, preferences and growth potential.

Read more: A Lesson in Role Specialization from Your Doctor’s Office

Is your sales compensation program helping you meet company objectives?

Most distribution sales compensation programs either provide insufficient rewards for helping to meet company objectives or over-compensate for the wrong results. Either of these mistakes erodes distributor profits. Distributors also need to consider the compensation expectations of Millennials and Gen Z. While there are no universally best sales comp programs, there are questions distributors can ask to determine the best program for them.

Read more: 3 Questions to Ask Before Changing Your Sales Compensation Plan

How does your branding help you build loyal, more profitable customers?

Few companies can clearly define what branding is or explain why it’s important to have a branding strategy. Distributors need a simple, team-oriented approach to brand consistency that builds loyal, more profitable customers. This goes beyond a well-designed logo. Branding is created through the actions and interactions of every department, operation and employee in your business.

Read more: What Makes a Brand in B2B?

How are you adapting your channel strategy to meet customers’ changing demands?

Big changes are coming to the way end-users shop and buy, but the digital question is not black and white. It’s not just about ecommerce. Don’t think about digital as a way to replace people; think about it as a way to enhance relationships. The more compelling case for making the transition is in how it can help you cut SG&A expenses and convert one-time customers into repeat business.

Read more: When It Comes to Digital, Don’t Be the Monkey Holding Onto the Mango

Is your organization afraid of change?

The biggest obstacle to moving forward on a plan to compete in today’s multichannel world and meet rapidly changing customer demands is not usually technology. It’s an organization’s fear of change and inability to build an innovative culture.

Read more: The No. 1 Reason Distributors Fail to Make the Digital Transition

About the Author

Mike Marks

Mike Marks

Mike Marks co-founded IRCG in April 1987. He began his consulting practice after working in distribution management for more than 20 years. Over the years, his narrow focus in B2B channel-driven markets has created an extensive number of deep executive relationships within virtually every business vertical in construction, industrial, OEM, agricultural, and healthcare.

Mike has led project teams that improve market access by aligning resources to growth opportunities serving manufacturers, dealers, and distributors. Clients have ranged from small privately owned firms to many of the industry’s market share leaders. Ownership structures have included owner-operators, private equity, ESOPs, and publically traded firms. Mike is proud of the teams work and the confidence clients have shown with additional project work.

He has written extensively, and is frequently quoted on many industry issues. He has substantial board experience on both public and private distribution firms. His contributions to the field include serving multiple terms as a Research Fellow with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, permanent faculty at Purdue University’s University of Industrial Distribution, eight years as Graduate Adjunct Faculty in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A & M University, and rendering several precedent-setting expert opinions in contract disputes between manufacturers and distributors.

Prior to forming IRCG, Mike held the position of Executive Vice President at Lex Electronics, an $800 million vertically integrated electronics distributor in Stamford, CT. Mike’s path to management in his early career was through increasing responsibilities in sales and sales management. He also completed a tour of duty as a manufacturer’s representative.

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