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How to Leverage Technology Gain an Edge: It’s Not About Looking Like Amazon

Presented by: Mike Marks, Managing Partner, River Consulting Group

Before the pandemic, this industry was already facing major changes. From customer purchasing patterns and the rising expectations of customer experience to generational transitions and supplier channels, COVID-19 has only accelerated these disruptions.

Savvy distributors are already investing in innovations to create more value in their corner of the market for their customers. Don’t worry about looking or operating like Amazon, but ask the hard questions to change what isn’t working.

Here are some strategies to get started:

  • Reassess value and price so that you’re not competing on price alone, but on value-added services for your customers.
  • Embrace the right digital tools to support a multichannel strategy.
  • Improve the customer experience by learning how they want to buy, and how to ease their challenges.
  • Remove inefficiencies from sales channels to streamline efforts and help teams sell smarter.

Successful distributors already understand the value of human interaction. Now is the time to be proactive, get outside the four walls or your organization, and gain insight about how your customers want do business with you.

Focus efforts on your niche and pay close attention to what your customers expect. Then, find ways for technology to enable that and make changes. Consider investing in clean product data by hiring a data analyst instead of another sales rep. Or try hybrid telesales reps supported by technical specialists for more market coverage.

When the pandemic passes, so will the drama, but that doesn’t mean distribution will stop changing. Speed and preparation matter. Implementing strategic innovations now will only make distributors stronger for whatever comes next.

Long-time faculty member Mike Marks will be presenting “Facing the Forces of Change” this year at the University of Innovative Distribution. He is a dynamic speaker, popular author, an NAW Research Fellow and the Managing Partner of Indian River Consulting Group, which works with distributors of all sizes up to those over $40 billion in revenue per year. Learn more about

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