What the Worst Distributors & Dealers Do

A few days ago, we examined behaviors and results that characterize top-performing distributors and dealers. Let’s look at the other side of that coin.

What behaviors, traits and results characterize under-performing distributors and dealers?

This is the question Bob Chapman and I explored with a group of manufacturing executives. Many answers were quite predictable, others were more surprising.

Regardless of industry, low performers consistently demonstrate similar behaviors on a day-to-day basis. These include:
  • Carrying every possible product line
  • Demonstrating no loyalty to one central manufacturer or their products
  • Acting as a low-price leader
  • Functioning as a price-based seller
  • Focusing solely on landing a job/making the sale
  • Not distinguishing between making a sale and making the right sale to the right customer
  • Responding reactively, rather than acting proactively
  • Submitting eleventh-hour bids
  • Waiting to the last minute … for everything

The manufacturers identified an entire list of things low performers did not do or did not do well. These include:
  • Not communicating with the manufacturer
  • Not communicating with their internal team
  • Not communicating with installers
  • Not building relationships with new customers
  • Not working to sustain relationships with existing customers

What’s the bottom line? Top performers produce consistent, predictable, desirable results. Low performers vacillate between predictable and unpredictable results. This means they:
  • Sometimes sell significant volume
  • Sometimes barely sell anything at all
  • Fall short on customer service, follow up, etc.
  • Require more support, both day to day and overall
  • Fail to reliably cover the Total Cost of Sales
  • Increase the Total Cost of Ownership through cumulative shortcomings
  • Fail to profitably offset Total Cost of Ownership, for the same reasons

According to the manufacturing execs, many under-performing distributors and dealers operate in a perpetual state of little to no accountability. When something goes undone or gets done incorrectly, they’re quick to claim it’s not their job, not their fault, not their responsibility.

If  your distributors are not performing up to expectation, perhaps it's time to ask some tough questions:
  • Is it worth the time, energy, effort and cost to define roles and responsibilities with greater clarity?
  • Is it time to build greater accountability into your system?
  • Have you provided sufficient training and support?
  • Can the relationship become profitable and productive with the right training and attention ?
  • Are you willing to make the investment?
  • What's the potential ROI?
  • Is it time to cut them loose?

Only you can answer these questions.
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Related
What the Best Distributors & Dealers Do
Sales Champ or Destructive Hero?
How Manufacturers Undermine Distributors
Sell More: 4 Key Steps

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