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It’s Now or Never: Transform to Win in Today’s Markets

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

The pandemic has incited five years of digital transformation in a matter of months, only widening the gap between distributors who have been innovating and those who haven’t. There is little use anymore in overlaying good ideas and initiatives on top of existing organizational structures that are no longer sufficient in today’s market.

The most successful distributors today must be able to:

Analyze big data: Detail-oriented leadership actively fights for clean data to make sure it’s usable for guiding transformation processes to cut sales costs. For instance, segmenting customers can reveal who does not need the economic investment of sales rep, leading to a more productive territory design.

Effectively implement change: Leaders who have been using project management tools in transforming business process design for years are well positioned to face the kinds of exponential changes happening today. Those who have responded by hoping that those market changes are linear are facing a severe uphill battle of playing catch up.

Forge new strategies to take into account customers’ changing buying habits. Disruptors like Amazon are even more of a threat with the changes brought on by the pandemic. Now more than ever, customers expect:

  • Reliable customer service
  • Competitive pricing
  • Lightning-fast shipping
  • Endless selection
  • Optimized product descriptions
  • In-depth product reviews
  • Personalized communication

Meaning, distributors must innovate new ways to stay relevant for customers by delivering value that sticks. Prioritizing margins and cost only results in a race to the bottom. Distributors who listen to their customers and add valuable services like consignment, vendor-managed inventory, storeroom management, diagnostics, and staging can really win.

These data-driven, well-led innovations strengthen organizations against declines in sales during recessions. Value-added services capture share when the economy recovers and earn higher growth when the market is doing well. Remember, uncertain times present perfect opportunity to make changes. The organizations left standing will be those that were willing to take risks.

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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