How to Create Distributor Plans that Incent Growth [FREE TEMPLATE]

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

distributor-plans-that-incent-growth

Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs.

However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.

In this article, we’ll look at how the right distributor plan can help you get the most benefit from your distributor relationships and drive the business objectives you want to achieve.

(more…)

3 Tips for Improving New Product Rollouts

Today we have a guest post from Alan Sipe, President of Toolbox sales and consulting. Alan has over 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of Knipex Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable. Alan can be reached at alansipe@gmail.com.

So, why isn’t your new Super-Duper Widget selling?

Your Research Department talked to your users and found a need. Product Development and Design took that information and developed the world’s best Super-Duper Widget. Marketing put together literature and an excellent introduction display and sales package. Sales developed a forecast and Production has plenty of Super-Duper Widgets in stock. Literature, samples, promotional material and quotas went out to your Manufacturer’s Representatives … right on time.

Now you only have one little problem … your fabulous new Super-Duper Widgets are not selling into distribution at anywhere near projections.

You did everything right … Right?

There is a mistaken opinion that as soon as you give someone the title salesperson they immediately are professional Super-Duper Widget salespeople … you couldn’t be more wrong!

Whether your sales staff is your own or if you use independent reps. Here are some things to consider:

The first thing to consider (no matter what they tell you)is that as a Manufacturer’s Representative they represent many lines and no one can intuitively be an expert in all things.

Mary may be an excellent salesperson and has great relationships with all her customers and gets good repeat orders but doesn’t do well with new products. (more…)

Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $20,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

dsc01389-copySonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a seventh year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $20,000 worth of tools and building materials again this year. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected nearly $200,000 in donations.

Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

“Your efforts help Cleveland Habitat continue its neighborhood revitalization efforts,” said John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “Your steadfast support provides some of the ‘tools’ to making our work possible.”

Community participants in the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included the Berea Recreation Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library – Berea Branch, Dave’s Precision Automotive, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Lakeside Supply, Lamar, offices of Dr. Brian Britt and Dr. Kent Nicklas, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Samsel Supply, St. Mary of the Falls, Sutton Industrial Hardware, The Wine Spot, Wolff Bros. Supply, Woodhill Supply and many community members.

Trades industry participants in the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Council Tool Company, Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, Jergens and KNIPEX Tools.

“The Sonnhalter Tool Drive is a rewarding and exciting experience for our team each year,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are very humbled by the generosity of our clients, partners and the community who made it possible for us to give nearly $200,000 in donations over the past seven years to this great organization.”

All of the donations that Sonnhalter collected benefited the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores, recycled building materials and home furnishings stores. Proceeds from the ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

Are You Ready to Talk to the Media?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

1218_5360518We’re officially in trade show season, which means planning booths, putting together promotions, connecting with customers and preparing your staff for the show. One often overlooked aspect of trade show participation is the media.

When you exhibit at a trade show, you can trust in the quality and relevancy of the attendees as potential customers. You can also trust that the media that is most important to your ideal customer will be at the show, so make sure you prepare to talk with them as well.

I once supported a company at their biggest industry show. I’d set up meetings with media at the show and spent a lot of time in their booth. During a lull when I didn’t have anything scheduled, I decided to go eat lunch. When I returned, the sales rep in the booth handed me an editor’s card and told me he’d stopped to see you. I asked about the interaction with the editors, what had been show to him and so on, just to find out that they had given him my card and sent him on his way. Throughout the show, the booth staff was so laser focused on getting leads that every time they encountered the media, they said two word, “See her” and pointed them to me.

It’s important to treat the media personnel at a show as if they are just as important as a customer … if not more. Trade media have a huge audience of hundreds or thousands of the people who you want to reach.

(more…)

The Most Important Customer in Building Materials

Today we have a guest post from Mark Mitchel of Whizard Strategy.

3Icons-Salesexecution2-120x120Building materials companies frequently only see the customer who is directly in front of their nose. They are laser focused on selling a builder, an architect, a facilities manager or even a homeowner.

In every one of these cases there is someone standing right behind them, that you may not see. That person is the contractor. More specifically it is the installing contractor.

Time and time again, I see building materials companies, with a great product, think they have a made a sale to their primary customer, only to lose the sales, because of a contractor.

It’s easy to assume that contractors are working for your primary customer so they so they will do what the customer wants. That is frequently not the case.

Here’s Why Contractors Resist Change

  • There is a shortage of labor so any good contractor is in demand and may turn work down or charge more, if it involves something new or different.
  • Contractors see new ideas and products as change and change represents risk. It usually does not represent opportunity to them.
  • Contractors can be very stubborn in their resistance to change. They and maybe even their Daddy has always used the same product and installed it the same way for years. Many of them also believe that buildings and homes are not built as well as they were in the past. To them, modern day construction practices and products are not necessarily better.
  • New products mean the contractor will lose money. The contractor looks at a new product as having many places where they are going to lose money, for example:
  1. They aren’t sure how to estimate the project so they can underestimate it and lose money or they can over estimate it and lose the job.
  2. Their installers will have to be trained and the cost of that training will fall on them.
  3. Installers will take a longer time on the first few jobs, reducing the contractor’s income.
  4. There is a higher likelihood of a callback on the first few jobs, once again costing the contractor.
  5. Dealing with a new supplier is also time consuming, when he probably isn’t having a problem with his current supplier. (more…)

How to Create Distributor Plans that Incent Growth [FREE TEMPLATE]

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

distributor-plans-that-incent-growth

Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs.

However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.

In this article, we’ll look at how the right distributor plan can help you get the most benefit from your distributor relationships and drive the business objectives you want to achieve. (more…)

Call Reports & Sales People…the Reality!

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder and CEO of Ultimate Lead Systems.

OK, let’s get real about sales people for a minute. Sales people want to make sales calls. They want toCall Report make calls on qualified leads and on profitable customers who can generate sales and compensation. They are like gunslingers interested in the “quick kill.” You hire them to sell and that’s where you want them to spend their time.

But they are also given business plans and projections to write and update. They also have prospecting and travel to schedule.  And they are frequently required to spend time on software training…you know the CRM program, Excel, quote building software, the ERP system and the other third-party programs and resources that are pushed out to them, so they can be “more productive.”

The days of sales people making sales calls and writing up “simple” call reports (primarily for their own benefit) are long gone. Besides making calls, today’s sales people need to master and manage a variety of tasks and complex software. The need for the fundamental call report stills exists and management would be wise to keep that in mind. That means that one of the most important things management can do to help their sales people be more productive is to reduce the sales person’s administrative and non-sales related tasks.

(more…)

3 Tips on Maintaining Good Relationships with Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times greater than keeping an existing one.tradesmen-300x167

Unless you have a unique product that no one else has, you have to compete with someone for the business, and part of that process is building good customer relationships.

Contractors, for the most part, are loyal folks as long as your product delivers on its promises and you don’t treat them like dirt. Bottom line is, if you treat them right, they’ll be customers for life. 

Not only will they continue to be a customer, but they will become an advocate for your brand. These guys talk to each other and believe me, if your product doesn’t deliver on its promises, word will spread fast.

Here are three ways to keep relationships with professional tradesmen strong:

1. Stay in touch. E-mail is probably the best and most cost-effective way to this. Make them feel important, even a quick e-mail to say thanks for the business or a follow-up note from customer service after they have helped out with a problem will pay off long term.

  • A call from their local sales rep to say hi with no particular sales pitch may lead to opportunities if they (your sales guys) just listen.
  • Make them feel like they’re special by giving them a first look at new products as they are being developed.
  • They also could be the ideal source for field testing prior to launch. Also think about doing a webinar for customers only on a new product or application.

(more…)

Manufacturers: When’s the last time you looked at your Value Proposition?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Have you given contractors clarity and conviction as to who you are? Sometimes manufacturers focus all their efforts on products and not enough time on developing their value proposition. Others take for granted that everyone knows who we are and what we do.

I recently read an article by James O’Gara from On Message about creating clarity and conviction in the minds of your customers that got me thinking about a possible disconnect on messaging through the buying process. James points out that the message has to be consistent before, during and after the sale. Customers or potential customers can’t have one message when they are investigating a solution, only to find out once they start the buying process, the culture and messaging has changed.

Your story needs to capture not only your purpose and vision but your positioning statement, the value you deliver and what sets you apart from the competition. The bottom line is, your story can’t change from one phase to another. You need to be consistent and authentic!

(more…)

Improve Your Communication with Calls to Action

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

When you think about a Call to Action (CTA), what comes to mind? Perhaps a print or banner ad that says “Click Here”? Or a TV commercial urging you to “Call Now”?

CTAs are often thought of only in relation to sales messages. But incorporating CTAs in each aspect of communication can significantly improve your results. This goes for all external communication, but also for internal and interpersonal communication.

For example, think about the last email you sent (to a colleague, customer, friend, whomever). Did you clearly communicate the response you hoped for or did you just send a message that might leave them wondering how to respond? Even adding a simple, “Let me know your thoughts” to a message can signal that person to act and engage with your communication.

Each piece of communication you use could benefit from a call to action; once you incorporate CTAs into your messages, you’ll likely see better results.

(more…)