The team at Groton, Massachusetts-based manufacturer DFS often begins with this thought: Distributors are busy, and they don't want to waste time. How can we make life easier for them, and give them tools to help them succeed?
Buy product from a manufacturer. Mark up the price and resell that product to an end user. In a nutshell, that's how the traditional distributor model has worked for a long time. Then, end users stopped wanting to buy "products." Distributorships responded by offering services and solutions. Many transformed themselves into marketing services providers.
I used to suck at writing. I was expected to be a good writer, given my dad's profession. My dad is an English teacher and writer. (Yes, free editing is a perk. How do you think my writing sounds so darn good?) One would assume that my skills would be at least semi-proficient because I had always been around creative people and writers. Really good writers.
Millennials (those of us born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) have witnessed and been part of the transition from paper to computer and beyond. Instead of opening a book, we search on our phones or iPads for information. Instead of using paper and pencil, we access myriad network options. The "Hey, here's what I had for breakfast" picture might make its way to hundreds of people within an hour. Several friends may go to the restaurant that served the delicious food. The restaurant gets new customers just like that. But is selling to millennials really that easy?
In the print industry, service providers frequently view marketing and sales as a medicine to be taken when something is wrong. (So, your business is down this quarter? Add some salespeople, do a little marketing and you'll feel better in the morning.) Yet the most successful companies recognize that proactive sales and marketing investments are vital to growing and driving business results.
Can you imagine going on vacation without checking out attractions, lodging and restaurants first? Or shopping for a new TV without reading reviews or comparing products and prices from competing stores? Online tools make it convenient for consumers to check everything from cars to real estate. But research shows that online discovery isn't restricted to consumers. Nearly 90 percent of B2B buyers use the Web to research the products they buy for their business.
Not that long ago, the direct sales rep was the source of information for buyers. Companies provided thought leadership with in-person meetings, presentations, brochures and catalogs. Today, it's hard to get a buyer you know to return a call, let alone connect with one you don't know.