Distributors: Be Prepared for Better Manufacturer Visits

When it comes to running any business operation, it is imperative to keep in mind the key factor to success — healthy and trustworthy relationships. When relationships are not properly maintained and managed, this leads to a gap in communication and efficiency between manufacturers and distributors. Fortunately, though, with a laser-focused business management system, it becomes possible to track your supplier visits and be better prepared to deliver the information that the manufacturers are looking for.

What does an effective business management plan look like?

Distribution executives are key to the success of any business, and they are the employees who should be developing and implementing effective business management plans. These plans need to include:

    • Prioritize manufacturer visits — base them on membership/affiliation
    • Track visits
    • Label visits to track which are the most valuable
    • Manage visits on an executive level only
    • Schedule quarterly meetings both before and after visits
    • Manufacturers only need to visit when a client worth their time needs attention
    • Have lunch and learns during the visits — may include the presence of upper-level engineers and designer

An effective plan will also be a proactive plan, while at the same time taking into account the workloads that are being placed on the sales reps. When manufacturers visit too often, sales reps must align their selling strategies with the cross-selling that is taking place, thus reducing the time and effort they can devote to other pertinent sales calls. By finding a proactive approach that maintains balance, though, it becomes possible to limit manufacturer visits and still communicate all pertinent information that needs to be shared to boost sales opportunities and profits.

A business management plan also improves manufacturer visits because it allows you to pinpoint problems associated with a particular line. In doing this, your inside sales team can track both expediting and service calls for a certain manufacturer’s product. By having convenient and instant access to these records, it becomes possible to perform damage control for a manufacturer visit takes place; this not only improves productivity levels but it enhances the relationship you are able to maintain with manufacturers. Your business management system needs to have the ability to build a schedule for the visits that are to take place, followed by providing you with detailed reports about the parts of the visits that will have the most impact on your company. The goal is to lessen the chaos and improve the efficiency of the visits.

Lastly, a business management system that augments healthy business practices will be one documents the objectives of the visits — both on a manufacturer- and distribution-basis; this allows you to determine whether or not you and your manufacturers are striving to achieve the same goals. If you find that a particular manufacturer has an objective that is not aligned with your objectives and needs, this is a sign to reassess the relationship.


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