We have all seen the wholesale distribution business evolving from a monopolistic industry with exclusive contracts signed with manufacturers to an capitalistic, open market where everyone is constantly competing with each other.
A key differentiator in this kind of a market will be building relationships with our customers as every distributor across the region will be offering similar goods with identical offers and comparable credit terms. The experience you give your customers can really set you apart from the competition to an extent that they aren’t even in the picture anymore. You can read about the importance of a great customer experience in a wholesale distribution business HERE.
When you start up your business with around 10 to 20 customers, it is very easy to maintain a great personal relationship with them and making them your loyal customers will not be that hard at all thanks to the great rapport you enjoy with them. But when you grow to be a large business with several thousand customers, it becomes impossible to know each and every one of your customers personally. Depending on your salesmen to maintain a good relationship can also be risky as in wholesale distribution, salesman attrition rate has always been high and the same person can tomorrow be working for your competitor.
However, with a futuristic distribution software, giving a good experience becomes very easy for you. Here are 5 very simple tips to maintain a great relationship with your customers no matter the size of your business.
- Free your customers :
Your customers should have the freedom of ordering right from their desks with an online portal. They don’t have to depend on your rep’s beat to place their orders once a week. They should be able to place orders at any time of the day and these orders should reach you immediately so that you can fulfill them as soon as possible. They should also be able to check their outstanding, credit terms and applicable offers by themselves without having to call you each time. This way, they know that they are completely independent and can peacefully run their business without worrying about shortages. This convenience you give him will become something he is totally dependent on which will not allow him to switch to other distributors as well.
- Free your customers :
” The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. ”
– Bill Gates
- Remember your Manners :
Your customers have several options in the market to purchase the exact same product. The fact that they have placed an order with you means they want to be loyal to you and maintain a relationship with you. So, don’t forget to thank them for each and every transaction, whether it is an order, an invoice, a receipt or even returns. This solves two purposes. Firstly, it makes the customer feel good about purchasing from you and secondly, it also gives your customer a confirmation that his order has been received or the amount he paid the rep has been received by you. A simple thank you SMS or email can eliminate any kind of misunderstanding and will bring transparency into your relationship.
- Keep it Personal :
The simple act of remembering which product a particular customer keeps buying from you can make order taking a personal interaction where your customer feels valued that you remember his choice. Now, it is not possible to remember each customer’s choice but with accurate reports and a quick view of his sales history in the order taking screen itself, it is possible for you to make it seem as if you know exactly what he needs. Similarly, with offers, each customer needs a specific type of product and will not buy every single product in your inventory. Personalizing offers just for that particular customer can go a long way to make him feel truly special especially when he compares with other customers of yours who did not get the exact same offer. This way, you can save money on most of the items and give offers only for special items.
- It’s just good business! :
Your customer may well be your friend, but it is always to keep business dealings as professional as possible. This way, you can eliminate any uneasiness. So, the next time your customer refers new customers to you, remember to give him a referral commission. Here, the actual percentage is a lot less important than the gesture itself. The fact that every time when the referred customer purchases something from you, the customer who referred him will get a small percentage will be a constant reminder that you don’t forget your friends and this will cement your relationship. Your customer will never want to buy from another distributor when you remember your thanks.
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
– Zig Ziglar
- Slow and steady wins the race :
Be a man of your word. Don’t ever over-commit and struggle to deliver an order on time. When you keep up your promised time of delivery, your customer will automatically feel obliged to keep up the agreed credit terms without unnecessary negotiations. Prove yourself to keep up your commitments with respect to current stock, time of delivery and offers. An hour’s delay in delivery of goods can cause a large loss to a retailer during peak hours. It’s better to commit lesser than your actual capacity and it’s more important to ensure that you have and will always be reliable so that all your customers approach whenever they have a need.
- Slow and steady wins the race :
These are 5 simple ways to give your customers the best possible experience without losing money on unprofitable offers. This can help everyone from the smallest distributor to a large chain improve their Customer Experience.