Though many distributors have scaled back their sales force since 2010, when many distributors set out to pound the pavement in force, they haven’t scaled back their selling efforts.

Many distributors have invested more heavily in sales training and CRM software to streamline the selling process. They have also invested in their websites. About 18 percent of sales orders are now conducted online, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2008.  About 44 percent of sales are taken over the phone, and about 27 percent are completed in person, according to the survey.

Changes in technology will continue to impact distributor sales, says St. Germain.

Distributors should be aware of the changes taking place, work to stay ahead-of-the curve, and continually look for new way to diversify their businesses. Germain says distributors need to zone in on what each specific customer wants from his or her service — then leverage this knowledge through technology. 

 “Distributors need to re-imagine the business that they are in,” St. Germain says. 

Trombetta says the most successful distributors have embraced the changes and turned them into profitable opportunities. Dis projected sales for 2013 bested those experienced in 2012. In spite of a changing industry, jan/san distributors seemed optimistic about the future.

“We have some new people, a sales mentoring program, a new catalog, an updated image and logo, and next is our website and (online) ordering,” says Silverman. 
“Our company is very excited about 2014, and excited about these next opportunities.”

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