Distributors need to do more than just endorse their value. Increasingly, they also need to quantify it. After all, in a world fraught with squeezed budgets and doing more with less, numbers are everything, Underhill says.

“It comes down to this: The only time you are really adding value is if you are somehow making your customer more profitable,” says Underhill. “What the supplier needs to figure out is how to measure those things with a reasonable, defendable number.”

The best way to prove value is to document cost-savings throughout the tenure of the customer relationship. While some jan/san distributors utilize a special software program to log the information, the process can be as simple as setting up a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet.

The important part is getting the numbers down on paper, says Underhill.

“If you are not documenting, you have nothing to show,” Underhill says. “Documenting magnifies the impact that you are bringing. When you do the cumulative impact of everything you’ve done — that a $500 (investment) became $10,000 (in savings) — that’s power.”

Distributors suggest salespeople document everything from labor savings derived from floor equipment purchases, disinfectants or other products to increased productivity rates, employee training, or reductions in worker absenteeism. Then deliver those figures to customers at monthly, quarterly and annual meetings. 

“It gives you something to talk about,” says Underhill. “It helps you to build the (customer) relationship, and allows you to ask if anything else can be done. It opens up opportunities.”

Reilly refers to the practice as “value-reminding.”

He says distributors have a chance to get creative with their sales approach. For example, he says distributors can send a one-year “birthday card” to a customer who previously purchased a floor scrubber. But instead of simply saying “thank you,” distributors can include a round-up of the year’s savings.

“Say they spent 250 hours on the machine; You could point out that they have had zero hours of maintenance,” Reilly explains. “It’s about communicating [value].” 
Underhill suggests building a thorough list of value-added services and deciding how much each action is worth in real dollars.

“Quite candidly, documenting can add a lot of money to your bottom line as far as increased sales, margin and customer loyalty,” Underhill says. “It gives you a real competitive advantage, professional looking reports, accountability and a standardized method.”

previous page of this article:
Positive Customer Experiences Can Trump Price Tags
next page of this article:
Drilling Down Cleaning Customer Needs