Finger about to press customer loyalty button. Concept for illustration of sales process.

Contributed by AFFLINK

Distributors are in again. Before the pandemic, many cleaning contractors and facility managers purchased items from online mega-stores. 

However, all too often, those items turned out to be ineffective, costly, and in many cases, made things worse. To avoid these mistakes and avoid “trial and error” purchasing, they realized they need an expert: an astute distributor.

So, with end customers returning, what can distributors do to ensure they hold on to these new customers?

According to Michael Wilson, vice president of AFFLINK, a leading national network of manufacturers and distributors, to keep these customers in the fold requires doing the following:

1. If you make a commitment to the customer, keep it. Customers do not take excuses lightly, especially after the difficulties of the past two years.

2. Never take a customer for granted. Always look for new product solutions that will help improve cleaning performance and effectiveness or reduce costs. 

3. If an item is out of stock, make sure the customer knows as soon as possible. Customers don’t like surprises. If they know ahead of time, they can plan better, or distributors can offer product alternatives. 

4. Always act like you know the customer works with other distributors – because they probably do. The more you believe they can always go elsewhere, the more likely you will put in extra effort to keep them as a client. 

5. Overpromising invariably leads to trouble. When you can’t meet a promise, you lose credibility and trust, which is the start of losing the customer. Be realistic as to what you can deliver and what you cannot. Better to under promise and then overperform.

Wilson says another issue right now is the rising costs of products. 

“The best thing to do is meet with the customer, discuss the situation, and suggest ways they can reduce their supply costs. For instance, suggest buying in bulk, selecting multi-tasking cleaning solutions, prioritizing products. or suggest less costly product alternatives. What’s most important is to work together. This builds trust and loyalty.”