laser1The old saw says, “never bring a knife to a gunfight”. The idea that it is foolish to enter into a battle situation with outclassed weaponry is not a new one.  It is an idea that can easily be applied to the fate of beverage distributors doing battle on the sales front in a rapidly evolving business environment. Distributors still using manual processes – spreadsheets, emails and the like – are bringing knives to a gunfight when they come up against competitors using today’s powerful, collaborative sales & marketing planning and execution technologies. Here’s the evidence in case you’re hesitant to purchase the figurative gun.

The battlefield and rules of engagement have most definitely changed.  Unlike in the past, today’s suppliers frequently own 20 or more brands and they’re relying more heavily on their distributor partners to play a greater role in selling. Suppliers have begun producing many more strategic initiatives requiring the distributors to comply and execute.  It is not uncommon for a supplier to develop several strategic initiatives per brand/per quarter, translating to a dozen or more different executable programs (each with its own performance indicators or ‘KPIs’ to be tracked) per supplier, per quarter. As more suppliers move in this direction, distributors may have over 100 initiatives, programs and goals to execute at any given time. It is increasingly common for a single salesperson to be expected to manage over 1,000 KPIs per year. Not only is the sheer quantity of initiatives going up, but so is the suppliers’ demand of accountability for the execution. Like many other industries with rapidly growing complexity, computing power is no longer a “nice-to-have”. It is essential!

Distributors have access to innovative new technologies designed specifically to help automate processes, focus salespeople and identify/codify best practices and methodologies for managing the strategic initiatives handed down by producers. Platforms like GreatVines that had previously been considered tools for suppliers exclusively, are now gaining favor among distributors who’ve seen the proof of concept at work for suppliers own internal teams. They’ve seen how these solutions are flexible enough to manage the distinct needs of a widening array of product lines with different account prioritization and sales drivers. They’ve noted the replicability of processes enabled by these tools as well as the scalability delivered by affordable cloud-based solutions (compared to earlier hosted solutions that were more costly and rigid). They have seen suppliers up their game and execute their initiatives with laser focus, accountability and visibility into performance.

These new weapons for doing battle on the sales field provide improved control over workflows to develop  targeted goal and objective assignments and allow the analysis of performance against KPIs and enforcement of trade spend budgets. The cloud-based delivery model is perfect for use on the mobile/handheld devices that every salesperson relies on today. Today’s tech tools enable collaboration in real-time making them perfect for keeping sales forces in the field informed, up to the minute, on all priorities and deliver relevant sales aids to facilitate execution. At the same time, management has access to timely reporting and improved control over strategies and correlated spend.

Those distributors adopting higher caliber technology solutions are seeing increased sales volumes, and enjoying the stronger, more positive relationships with suppliers and the healthier, more consistent brand management that comes with it. Those failing to adopt the latest tools of the trade are increasingly feeling outgunned in the marketplace and undoubtedly losing market share.

Get more detailed information on how to arm your sales staff with technology solutions designed especially for distributors. Download GreatVines’ white paper on this very subject, “Why Distributors Need a Solution to Execute their Suppliers Leading Indicators (KPIs)” available on the sidebar of this article.

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