Change is a word that many want to run away from. But putting your head in the sand doesn’t mean that change will opt to leave you unscathed. Unfortunately, change is about as inevitable as a sunrise each morning and flight delays on a Friday afternoon.

It’s difficult … change, that is … and when it comes to businesses – especially those in the distribution industry — it can come with a bit of hesitancy, particularly when the needed change requires a transformation that can affect your whole company.

Change is For Other People

I can hear your responses now (because I’ve heard them from many of your competitors in the industry).

“What I’ve been doing has been working. No need for change here.” (My follow-up question is: “But is it still working? And will it still be working in the days, weeks, and months to come?”)

“I don’t have time to change. Time is money.” (Again, I ask: “The question isn’t if you have time; it is Do you have time not to?”)

“Our team doesn’t have capacity. We are maxed out, and we just can’t find any wiggle room to do something new.” (Final point: “Capacity is relative. You will prioritize what you see as your priority.”)

Does Your Business Seek Growth?

Does your team long for opportunities to simplify and make a more significant impact?

Would your company enjoy being or remaining a leader in the industry … one that is sought out (instead of you doing all the seeking)?

Growth requires innovation. Innovation is a product of a culture that is open to new ideas. And embracing change means you are embracing new opportunities.

You see, change is the catalyst to growth. After navigating an unexpected pandemic, we all can agree that there are some changes we can plan for and some changes we can attempt to dodge, but most changes will happen whether we want them to or not.

What does change have to do with you, your business, and possibly your legacy?  At the heart of most successful companies are a few consistent elements:

  • A quality product, service, or offering,
  • A team dedicated to delivering that product, service, or offering, and
  • A group of individuals … we’ll call them buyers … who – you guessed it – buy your quality product, service, or offering from your team.

With the product, the team can deliver anything.

If your buyers are changing, then so must you!

Without the team, the product will likely never meet those who could use it.

But without the buyer, none of it matters.

Change is directly impacting you, your business, and possibly your legacy, too, because the success of each is affected by your buyers, and your buyers have changed (and will continue to do so).

Buyers Are Changing More Rapidly

The last few years have compounded this change, accelerating your need to meet your buyers where they are. And, where your buyers are and where you are may need to be aligned. Here’s what we know about the situation you are likely facing.

Buyers are sourcing products and solutions differently. They’ve learned to do research online, which was optional before the pandemic.

Buyers now know the online space gives them endless opportunities to identify what they need and compare solutions to meet those needs. They can easily compare quality, pricing, and much more before making a decision. More often than not, they will do their research and discovery before ever picking up a phone to call a salesperson.

They recognize that working with people and companies aligned with their values matters.

A storefront and some talented salespeople used to be enough. But it’s not anymore. Today, a digital storefront is just as, if not more than, critical as a brick-and-mortar storefront if that’s what your customers want. For distributors – or any business for that matter – not having a solid online presence that speaks to the customer and addresses an issue that the customer is interested in solving is risky and, in my opinion, not a risk worth taking. If you don’t have the information your buyers seek on your website, they will go elsewhere to find it. And I’m guessing you can’t afford to have that happen.

The Landscape of the Industry is Changing

Suppose you are used to face-to-face sales meetings but are working with a potential buyer who prefers leveraging the Internet as the primary means for sales decisions. In that case, you might create a situation that pushes a buyer away. I realize this could be disruptive – to you, your business, and your potential buyers. Disruption that takes customers out of their comfort zones isn’t usually a pathway to growth; it could be a deterrent.

Your Competition is Changing

Ask someone on the street where they do most of their shopping, and I’ll give you three guesses on their answer. Most people would say they are buying online, and quite frequently, they’ll tell you they purchase most often from the mega-distributor that we may not wish to say out loud (so I’ll whisper it … Amazon).

Buyers aren’t running away from purchasing. They are just running to easy and convenient places that provide the information they need when, where, and how.

I realize that’s a painful message to digest. And unfortunate. And it isn’t very pleasant.

But there is good news. There is hope. And my passion is not just sharing that hope with you but helping you embrace a solution that will work for you, not against you.

Are You Ready to Change?

While buyers are changing, in many ways, they remain the same. And the successful elements of your current sales process can and will still work … if you are open to creating a digital path to support or enhance what you’re already doing.

Here’s what I know works:

Buyers have a need. Distributors have a solution. Even if your competition’s solution is nearly identical, the differentiator is you – your company, culture, commitment, salesperson, and your leader. And, now more than ever, buyers want to buy from companies they align with, have similar values, and who they can trust.

You care about what you do, or you wouldn’t be doing it. Running a business can be challenging. And without a doubt, running a business as competitive as distribution is definitely challenging. So you are doing it for a reason.

You are doing it because you care. You are doing it because you value what you offer, and customers will recognize that.

The sweet spot is the convergence of your passion, your value, and your product with the buyers’ goal of finding a quality product that meets their needs. Suppose you effectively share your value alongside your offerings DIGITALLY (where your potential buyers likely begin their product exploration journey). In that case,  you can acquire new leads, make a sale, and create super-loyal customers in one fell swoop.

Change Shouldn’t Be Done Alone – Help is Right Here

Tremendous success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Even if you are an I-can-do-it-all-myself type, sometimes asking for help and taking action is essential. And NOW very well may be one of those times.

Having worked with distributors on their digital sales and marketing activities for ten years, exclusively for at least seven, I know you … I understand your needs and obstacles … and I’m excited and ready to help you.

About the Author

Susan Merlo, Founder of The Digital Distributor, isn't just a consultant; she's a catalyst for growth. She and her team deliver strategies, tools, and training that bridges distributors' traditional selling methods with digital marketing and lead generation.

"I believe the digital sales and marketing strategies that are available today can level the playing field for any distributor, regardless of size. In fact, today there's no reason for any distributor to be left behind.

For that reason, we provide Done-FOR-You Services for those distributors who do not have the staff, bandwidth or budget to implement these strategies on their own.

We also deliver Done-WITH-You Services that include everything from getting your staffing in place to training your sales and marketing teams on what works and how to implement and manage these strategies on their own."

To learn more about the value distributors can glean from even the very basics of implementing digital sales and marketing strategies, be sure to subscribe to our blog, below.