Specialty manufacturers are finding it increasingly harder to gain mindshare, in no small part due to the emergence of what we call “mega” channel partners –conglomerates of distributors that are often much larger than the specialty manufacturer itself. This shift in power has eliminated the traditional leverage of the manufacturer, turning up the stakes in the race for mindshare and creating a new age. The age of the customer.
What do we mean by the age of the customer? Manufacturers continue to talk “product,” forcing endless feature information onto their channel partners. But the reality is that differentiation is no longer based on feature, or even price. A study by Walker Research recently found that customer experience is the new competitive advantage to increase mindshare. At Insite we believe that in order to create a superior experience manufacturers need to stop thinking like a manufacturer…and start thinking like a brand.
Your goal should be to own a large and constantly growing percentage of the time and energy spent on sales by your distributors. Reaching that objective requires delivering an outstanding customer experience, and results in part from the pride of partnership from being associated with a robust, vital brand.
How can a unified commerce solution help develop a strong brand and ultimately grow mindshare? The answer lies in creating an experience for channel partners that not only helps them thoroughly understand your products, but supports and even accelerates the sales cycle.
Here are four ways to increase mindshare among your important channel partners by providing an outstanding, branded customer experience:
- First and foremost, your organization requires a robust channel partner portal that is easily navigated, searchable by description and other refined methods, and provides a single sign-on for outside sales. This decreases frustration which increases loyalty, keeping you top of mind for the next sale. distributors should be rewarded for their business with easy methods to satisfy requests for quotes, proposal creation and other sales enablement tools.
- Information must be easily accessed. Don’t inundate them with a confusing product plethora of massive catalogs and irrelevant promotional items. Partner loyalty will increase exponentially if the information they need is easy to find and easy to access, whether from a mobile device or even via offline downloads.
- Training must be fast, efficient and address a younger generations’ needs and wants in terms of speed, mobile access and multimedia. The ability to quickly and thoroughly understand your products in their preferred manner is key to increasing the time actually spent selling them.
- Finally, a focus on branding, from the look and feel of your online presence to providing consistent messaging throughout, is imperative. A strong brand unifies the customer experience. Unified commerce supports the environment within which that brand lives.
Increase loyalty and create a pride of association with a superior customer experience at every stage of the commerce cycle. Make working with your company is a pleasure, and an experience that will always be top of mind no matter how tough the competition.
The prize for winning the race for mindshare is revenue. Find out how Insite can help you win the race for mindshare here.