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Distributor's Link Magazine Winter 2023 / Vol 46 No 1


74 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK GLOBALFASTENERNEWS.COM by JOHN WOLZ EDITOR DESTEFANO: DISTRIBUTOR WEBSITES NEED B2C COMFORT WITH B2B STRENGTH Local distributors can beat the B2B giants with “personalization,” Bob DeStefano told the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors 2022 convention. “Massive B2B e-commerce sellers rely on algorithmdriven recommendations and analysis to personalize the customer experience,” DeStefano said. Distributor advantages include relationships with suppliers, knowledge of the market and applications and understanding how to overcome logistical problems. A distributor website needs “B2C comfort with B2B strength,” DeStefano said. That includes customerfocused design, education, intuitive navigation, rich content, targeted promotions, streamlined checkout and pre-sales support. DeStefano started his Internet career in 1994 with Dean Witter when the question was “What is this Internet Thing?” He led the launch of Dean Witter’s first websites. He left to start SVM Solutions in 1995. Internet buying is 83% higher than pre-Covid, DeStefano said. “The alternative to Internet is downsizing or closing.” DeStefano finds two myths about distributor Internet sales. Myth #1 is that a distributor’s stand-alone e-commerce website will maximize sales on its own. DeStefano said sales reps are often still need to assist in product selection, handle complex quote requests and payment options. And the purchasing process may involve multiple individuals such as end-users, plant managers and purchasing agents. Myth #2 is that a regional distributor’s e-commerce website will make the company a national player. DeStefano advised finding “new customers within your territory and niche.” Marketing and salespeople should seek to get existing customers to buy more often and a wider range of products. Seek out customers who haven’t purchased in past 12 months, DeStefano added. Go to “hybrid sales,” with includes digital, in-person and inside sales. [1] “Sell the way your customer wants to buy,” DeStefano said. Sales reps need to know how to sell whichever way serves the customer. “Train field reps to sell virtually,” he added. [2] Encourage and incentivize new Key Performance Indicators, including how fast you respond to customer inquiries. [3] Focus on building a strong culture team. Foster knowledge sharing about successful sales approaches with regular team-building events to “strengthen personal bonds.” [4] Invest in tools to help remote selling and sales team collaboration. He mentioned CRM and Slack as tools. [5] Assign salespeople to e-commerce customers. “Pay them a commission to grow e-commerce sales,” DeStefano advised. BUSINESS FOCUS ARTICLE CONTINUED ON PAGE 132



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