How B2B Distributors can increase retail sales
B2B Distributors have always played a critical role in product sales, acting as middlemen between manufacturers and end-users, ensuring that products reach where they’re supposed to, in good conditions and right on time. But things have been changing over the last few years; emerging technologies, the COVID pandemic, and the US economic policies have all reshaped the industry. On the one hand, manufacturers and retailers are increasingly investing in their distribution networks, effectively removing middlemen and supplying products directly to the consumers. On the other hand, with the advancement in technology to support an on-demand economy, B2B expect from distributors the same level of service they get as individual B2C consumers.
As a result, B2B distributors are struggling to maintain their position in the market and sustain profitability. The main question is: How can B2b distributors increase their sales and keep them profitable? This article will focus on answering this question.
B2B Distributor strategies to increase sales in the stores
Despite the challenges that distributors are facing, in the end, sales depend on what happens in the store. Before the pandemic and new technological trends, in-store sales were a straightforward passive process. But with the challenges outlined in the introduction, B2B distributors need to evolve from a passive and reactive model to a proactive and creative one. In this section, I will outline the six key elements that should form the basis for your new in-store sales model.
01. Know your customer
In-store sales are face-to-face with the Store Manager or the designated person and, since every person is different, you must learn what makes the buyer tick. We group the personality of the buyers into four categories. You need to adjust your sales pitch to the manager´s personality if you want to have a chance to succeed.
- Panther Manager: this manager is a down-to-earth person. They like people that cut to the chase. They do not spend a lot of time with the vendors. To sell to them you need to prepare an “elevator pitch.¨
- Owl Manager: they are cerebral, cautious, and observant. Quick to detect mistakes and rub them in your face. Be careful with your performance in the store and work well on your facts before going into the selling phase.
- Peacock Manager: They like to be praised and often spend a lot of time highlighting their achievements. Be patient, plan to spend more time in the store, and make them talk.
- Dolphin Manager: This is the most critical type. They are not assertive and tend to say YES to everyone but in the end they do what they want. You need to be precise and get them to commit in writing.
02. Differentiate by focusing on service
Even though B2B distributors offer merchandising services as part of the product offering, in actual fact, the service provided is poor. You can take advantage of this situation by incorporating merchandise and shelf maintenance practices into the list of things to do when visiting the stores. Here are eight tips from the Promoting USA Sales Rep registered training program on how to excel and stand out from the competition.
- Take a cart, greet the cashiers and take the flyer.
- Walk the aisles where our products are, seeing what products need to be restocked on the shelves.
- During the tour, greet all the staff you meet.
- Go to the warehouse and load the cart with the merchandise needed on the shelves, respecting the FIFO. Request paper and cleaner.
- Return to the sales floor and go line by line replenishing products, cleaning if necessary, taking out expired products, checking the FIFO, seeing if they need a price tag, and taking note of what needs to be sold.
- Fold the boxes as the products are placed on the shelves, and lay them on the bottom of the cart.
- Return to the warehouse, make the credits, and place the folded boxes in the recycling place.
- Take note of what is left in the deposit.
03. Offer special promotions and temporary offers
Promotions, temporary price reductions (TPR), and discounts are tools used by distributors to boost sales of specific products during a specified time frame. All these tools mean that the gross profit margin of distributors and retailers will decline, although this is expected to be outweighed by increasing sales. According to a study by the WPP Group shopper-marketing agency OgilvyAction, 40% of customers that make buying decisions while in the store, do that because of promotional tools.
But this can only happen if the Sales Rep effectively offers and promotes the advantage of a deal, and negotiates additional space to display the offer. We emphasize two things that Sales Reps must do before going into the store:
- Review the TPRs and special offers available for that store
- Review the purchase history of the store
04. Promote new products
Numeric Distribution is a Sales KPI that measures the number of products sold by a store versus the authorized products in the store. This index lets you know the effectiveness of the sales rep per store/chain. When reviewing the purchase history of the store before entering it, Sales Reps should also review the authorized products in it and develop a speech to try to sell at least one new product in their visit.
05. Offer sampling and tasting
Tastings are probably the most effective tool B2B distributors have to make a direct impact on moving more boxes while building the brand. According to the study mentioned above, 36% of shoppers decide to buy a product after a sampling event in the store. As well as with promotions, demos and sampling are costly. That is why it is important to structure them well if you want to achieve the target sales goal. Here are some tips to ensure the success of a tasting event.
- Choose a day in which the flow of customers in the store is the highest. This is typically on the weekends.
- Design the sales pitch carefully, highlighting the facts and benefits of the product.
- Select wisely the person who will do the tasting. They have to be proactive, confident, non-confronting, and with a positive attitude.
- Train the person with the facts and specs of the product and the most common and probable questions and objections from shoppers. If the person conducting the demo is unable to answer simple questions such as whether something is gluten-free or convey what the product offers that makes it unique among its competitors, the chances of success are slim.
06. Make the in-store sale a seamless process
A streamlined process means fewer errors, delays, or backorders, as well as time and money saved for your customers. This makes them more likely to order from your wholesale business rather than your competitors. An Order Taking App integrated with a DSD Route Accounting system will give you the tools to cover all the tips given before and show the Store Manager transparency and efficiency.
To keep your share of products on the store shelves amidst what has been called the new reality requires a change of attitude, sales approach, and creativity. Knowing your buyer, offering purchase incentives, having outstanding service in-store, and keeping simple and encompassing control of the store are among the issues you must take into account.
I hope this article has been helpful. I will continue to publish information related to Warehouse Management, distribution practices and trends, and the general economy. If you are interested in this article or want to learn more about Laceup Solutions, register to keep you updated on future articles.