Foodservice manufacturers rely on their reps and distribution networks to sell. But when reps and distributors are responsible for selling 20-30+ different brands, if not hundreds or even thousands, how does your factory ensure your products and solutions stay top-of-mind in this über competitive foodservice industry?
Let's start with what information you want to get out there to the reps and distributors. Do you have a HOT new product being launched? Take Alto-Shaam's Vector oven for example. You've created a buzz at tradeshows and demos but once NRA is over, then what? What specific collateral do you need so reps and distributors can continue to capitalize on that momentum? You could use use old-school, traditional marketing methods like PDF brochures, but are they compelling enough? What your sales channel really wants to see is just that. They want to see it. In action. With VIDEO.
Are you creating the raw video assets for your reps and distributors to utilize in their own marketing and sales efforts? Are you creating specific video testimonials based on specific market segments? Why not?
How are you staying top-of-mind within your sales network?
This answer usually starts with knowing how your reps and distributors want to receive valuable content assets, along with how often. We'll begin with email. The fact is email opens are on the decline. And spam filtering is on the incline. It's becoming much much harder to get emails opened, let alone read.
Pro-Tip: Determine how often you will send emails. Should you include them in your weekly marketing emails? Probably not. Our recommendation is to send an email to your reps twice per month at the most. And it better be good. It better have the info and educational assets they need. And certainly send them product updates. But keep emails to a minimum by consolidating information. Blog a lot? Send a bi-weekly blog recap to your reps and distributors.
This one is very interesting. Yes, sales people have been sending emails to dealers and end-users since their existence, but only recently has it become more and more important for sales people to use email to continue educating end-users. Marketing creates these amazing digital assets, right? And marketing is engaging with the buyers earlier on in the buying process today. It's imperative that sales picks up where marketing leaves off with a true understanding of the buyer's needs.
Sales is armed with the buyer's intel throughout their journey with a brand online. Sales can use this intel along with the remarkable digital assets to push a buyer from considering your factory's solution to deciding to spec or buy that solution. Factories must arm their sales people with the right content and context to use in their everyday nurturing activities.
IS THERE A BETTER WAY?
Software is changing the world, so are the advancements in AI (artificial intelligence). How do your reps and distribution networks want to receive information about your company? Here are some of the trends we are experiencing first hand:
- File Share Platforms - Dropbox and Google Drive have been around for quite some time. Factories are using these file share platforms to keep their reps and suppliers up to date using organized sub-folders. It's simple to set up and doesn't cost much.
- Messaging/Chat - I've personally been using chat since the 1990s. But today, software like Slack is changing the office landscape. Factories are setting up specific (private) Slack channels for instant communication with their sales network which, by the way, integrates nicely with Dropbox, etc. Manufacturers are also starting to fully understand the power of chat/messaging on their websites to communicate with visitors in real-time. What if reps and distributors had their own 'intranet' page(s) and could chat with their own sales person in real-time about a question?
DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The amount of rep, supplier, distributor, and factory activity on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram is awesome to see (finally - it's only been a decade 😉 ). Keep in mind that social media is 24x7. Even though reps and suppliers work business hours, they are checking social platforms day and night, weekdays and weekends. Social never sleeps. Reps are getting critical information that they can share to their followers via social media today.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Email is becoming less and less effective as a communication tool. Manufacturers who are adapting to the digital landscape and who are listening to their supply network are staying top-of-mind. How have you adapted?
Find out more about how other manufacturers are staying top-of-mind. Let's talk branding and ways to drive opportunity for your foodservice business. Book time with me today.