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Roles of the B2B Buying Journey: The Distribution Sales Rep

Creativity, Brainstorming, Planning, Teamwork, Execution Then Success

Understanding the customer journey – and your internal team’s journey – is critical in B2B industries like manufacturing and distribution. A direct employee of a distributor or wholesale organization, the distribution sales representative is responsible for selling the products her company sells. She is often responsible for a specific territory and the customers that reside within that territory.
Distributors generally represent multiple manufacturers with different product types and lines, so she may not be very familiar with all of the products he is trying to sell. She needs quick and easy access to extensive product information so she can present accurate and detailed facts to her customers.

Less Reactive, More Proactive

As the liaison between her customers and the manufacturers she represents, the distribution sales rep spends a lot of her time chasing orders, checking on deliveries, and doing other, non-sales-related activities. Studies have shown that reps spend only 32% of their time selling, with the remainder spent on admin tasks. Responsibilities such as these can take up a lot of her time, and she isn’t able to be as proactive as she’d like. To improve her experience, she needs a way to automate redundant tasks, improved communication channels with her customers, and access to information quickly. So rather than fielding calls from annoyed customers wondering where their orders are, she can provide updates before those questions come in. She needs a 360-degree view of all the orders she’s overseeing and answers to the questions before her customers ask them.

Data to Improve Personalization

Product and customer data are major assets to the distribution sales representative. When representing a manufacturer, she often has to sell the majority of the products they produce. It’s impossible for her to be an expert on every product and each line, so manufacturers need to ensure they can make it easy for her to get the right information to sell better and answer the questions of her customers. She is always wondering if her customers are happy and how she can provide even more support.

Extra Capabilities

When presenting products to her buyers, the distribution sales rep may have additional needs beyond product specs and the content that is accessible in the eCommerce site. She needs the ability to request samples, get custom quotes and special pricing, or check-out demo equipment to strengthen her sales strategy. These capabilities are not commonly available to other members of the distribution team, but to enable her to do her job and improve her relationships with the organizations she’s selling to, there needs to be a system in place where she can easily make these requests.

Interacting with the Distribution Sales Representative

What She Does

  • Works for a distributor that sells many different products from different manufacturers
  • Is responsible for sales that occur within her geographic region
  • Is out in the field working with her customers and manufacturing partners. She uses her laptop to access data, but also uses her mobile device.
  • Spends most of her time chasing orders, checking on deliveries, and other unproductive activities

What She Needs

  • To feel supported out in the field with an easy way to access the product information  and sales content that is necessary for her to do her job
  • An easy way to request samples, quotes, and other relevant information
  • An easy way to order demo equipment when she needs to show a customer
  • Access to customer data and ordering that is happening both online and offline

Where You’ll Reach Her
She may be at her desk, but she is most often out in the field working with her customer and manufacturing partners. She uses her laptop to access data, as well as her mobile device.
What You Can Provide to Make Her Job Easier

  • A commerce system that provides access to relevant product information including sales materials
  • A solution that makes it easy to request quotes in real-time and order product samples
  • An easy way to prepare a list of products that a customer should use on a project or products that are new
  • The ability to see the sales information relevant to her customers

To learn more about the other roles involved in the B2B buying process and how you can improve their experience, check out our guide The People of the Manufacturing and Distribution Buyer Journey.

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Karie Daudt, Senior Commerce Consultant

Senior Commerce Consultant for Perficient, a leading digital consultancy. Experience includes more than two decades in digital commerce, product management, business development and marketing for manufacturing and distribution organizations. Has provided strategic leadership for global suppliers and brands resulting in innovative techniques for improving the customer experience overall, reducing cost of sales and accelerating efficiencies within complex buying and selling scenarios. Authored articles for leading publications in the manufacturing, distribution and ecommerce industries.

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