In a climate where optimising search engines and collecting ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ has become the norm, we suggest that in this industry, it is more often traditional values and good relationships that make the wheels of commerce turn.
This is very much a people business. Although new media certainly has its place and works for many organisations, is it not the dynamics of personalities and good relations that drive business? While it is important to embrace new technology, let’s not lose sight of the core values of quality, and reliability that actually create and build sustainable businesses.
People buy from people. Acknowledging an individual’s human predicament and going that extra mile to accommodate should be second nature in business, as in life. Commercial benevolence will also have the knock-on effect of finding favour with customers, and ultimately help develop loyalty.
For businesses that engage with a distributor network, excellent relationships are imperative, and no amount of tweets or electronic correspondence will equal real time spent with your distributors.
Listening is an important skill, and reacting to a customer’s need, thus ensuring they get exactly what is required, helps to build that crucial element of trust in a relationship.
Additionally, reliability is paramount and simple logistics count. Manufacturers should always endeavour to have products in stock when their distributors and customers need it.
The economic climate has dictated that many organisations now purchase little and often. Therefore offering logistical support by storing stock, staggering deliveries and operating dynamic stocking policies can address this, and will ultimately help your distributors keep their promises to their customers, offering a win-win situation all round.
Price is always something that draws attention, and it is not uncommon for some manufacturers to control their distributor’s profit margins. Flexible pricing strategies should be encouraged, whereby distributors are able to control their own selling price and margin, giving them the space they need to maintain a competitive edge.
With a distribution-orientated business model, a successful marketing strategy also needs to keep distributors at the fore, and should be a blend of highlighting a brand’s unique selling points through advertising and publicity, but with a clear message to direct enquiries to the distributor network for sales.
We may be Facebook friends, but profitable partnerships are built on traditional communication and good relations, and are mainly the result of personal relationships that have formed over the years.
Having ‘grown-up’ together, and weathered many economic storms and industrial turbulence, these core distribution networks are the lifeblood of industrial manufacturing today.
Les Littlewood is sales director at Albion Valves UK