You might have come out with an excellent product, but until and unless your product reaches out to your customers, it is not going to make a success story. Marketing and sales are two important aspects in the journey to make your product is known to and available to your target customers. This article will tell you about the distribution network sales i.e., the ‘Selling and Distribution’ aspect to make your product a dream success.
Know your market and clarify your distribution strategy
First and foremost thing is to crystallize a clear and effective strategy about how you’re going to distribute your product. You need to choose whether you want to push your products through primary sales or else you want to have a predominantly ‘Pull Strategy’ where secondary sales through distributors become the main driver of market penetration. Here, we have outlined 17 key points which if implemented are bound to turbo change your distribution network sales.
1. Streamline your primary sales to distributors
Your buyers place an order with you that need to be supplied from multiple locations – such as factories, depots, and warehouse: You need to make sure that the orders get passed on to the right despatch location. The whole process should be automated and streamlined through a robust cloud-based software.
2. Track your secondary sales to retailers
Tracking distribution network sales is a bigger challenge than managing primary sales because it is happening at many locations across the geographies and they are not in the control of the company.
In secondary sales – the retailers place orders that need to be passed on to the distributors. You need to make sure that the orders are passed on the earmarked distributor on a real-time basis.
3. Use cloud and mobile technology to track secondary sales
If you are a brand owner and secondary sales is what matters for you the most. Choosing the right mobile technology will be definitely more critical for you. You need to provide an interface for everyone – the retailer, the distributor, the sales executive, and the sales managers.
The mobility solution must adequately address the main pain points of tracking secondary sales – such as customer directory, order and sales directory etc.
4. Everything – Everyone on Mobile
Many applications just provide compulsive features to the executives such as order booking. But this is not going to give you the competitive edge required to grow your customer base.
Everyone in your sales team from sales executive to the National Sales Head and even the CEO needs to be on a mobile platform that shows different things to different people as per their needs and profiles.
Everyone in your distribution chain – from the warehouses, factories and depots to the CNF agents, distributors, retailers, wholesalers need to be on the mobile device accessing a single database. The system should provide fine grain access on a need to know basis.
5. Entire sales process to go on mobile
Entire transactions from order booking to assignment, invoicing, dispatch, inventory, and accounts need to be on mobile. Even the senior managers while in the office or in the tour should have seamless access to the updates and data so that they can engage and intervene at all times.
6. A hybrid offline-online experience
Even the end consumer of your products and brand should have access to the mobile device. In today’s market, the consumer should be able to know about your product and buy it from any channel including online.
Provide for a hybrid offline-online experience to the consumer. Let him see the product catalog and price list online at your site and place an order with a nearby shop or retailer that is already geo-tagged on the system.
7. Live updates for the retailer and buyer
Provide same engagement at all the levels of distribution management system – secondary and tertiary. A retailer should get live updates regarding the despatch and delivery of his order.
Live update to the buyer regarding his order delivery – whatever progress is happening on an order – such as invoicing, despatch should be automatically seen by the buyer doing away with the need for repetitive phone calls to inquire the status of delivery.
8. Score the distributors and differentiate them
As a company, you should be able to monitor the efficiency of different dealers and distributors. You should differentiate between the enthusiastic distributors who supply the orders instantly and the laggards. Devise a strategy to incentivize and recognize the top performers and weed out the non-performers.
9. Special festival offer and schemes
On Republic Day or Independence Day, you may be giving special schemes. The mobile system should give instant notification to the entire distribution chain and the sales team regarding such schemes.
10. Sales push offers to clear inventory and meet sales target
The offers and schemes are targeted at retailers but the distributors eat into those schemes and the same don’t get fully communicated to the intended beneficiary. Sometimes, the sales manager also gang up with distributors in this process. Mobile technology must provide un-compromised transparency and integrity in the whole system.
11. Do away with the phone calls
Make sure that mobile technology makes entire order booking and supply process phone call free.
Telephonic orders, feedback regarding order supply status is very irritating and eats into precious selling time of field sales executive. The mobile technology should provide an effective mechanism to solve this.
12. Order to invoice conversion
The ERPs and accounting software’s such as Tally, SAP, ERP are poor at managing orders originating from multiple locations. Make sure that mobile technology provides seamless order to invoice generation process.
13. Invoice to despatch linkage
The interaction between the invoice generating department on one hand and despatch managers in different, depots and warehouses is a constant irritant. Make sure that the technology provides an enduring solution to the same.
Invoice and dispatch documentation to be part of a collaboration mechanism so that the buyer can see the invoice and delivery details even when the goods are in transit. That can create enormous goodwill for the band and company in the eyes of buyers.
14. Track delivery time and reasons for a delay
There should be a standard timeline provided between order booking and delivery. Whenever those limits are breached, there should be an in-built mechanism to escalate the matter and address the cause of such a breach.
In case of any delay in order despatch or delivery – the buyer should get timely advance information to help him be in the know of things so that he can plan his secondary sales/consumption activities.
Evaluation of despatch managers to be automatic on the basis of their response time and efficiency and even their rewards and punishment should be linked to the system driven performance evaluation.
15. Show available stock while booking orders
The system should show the available inventory at the time of orders booking by the buyer himself or by the field sales executive or the inside sales manager. The person who is placing the order should be well informed about the inventory status. In case orders exceed the current inventory level, there should be a proper mechanism to give inputs to the production team.
16. Integrate multiple systems into one
The data regarding orders, invoices, inventory and outstanding must communicate freely between the mainstream accounting, ERP and the mobility solution so that there is single truth to be followed by everyone. The integration amongst systems should be well thought out and it shouldn’t add to the duplicate mundane tasks that unnecessarily complicate the supply chain.
17. Mobility to be an edge for your distribution
Look at mobility, not just a necessity, but an opportunity, a differentiator for your ‘go to market’ and ‘brand penetration’ strategy. You must look at this small deride as a big game changer as this can completely turn around your sales efficiency. You must know that a robust cloud solution with an awesome mobile app is absolutely necessary for you to take your distribution sales to the next level.