An old computer sitting on a desk

The world is on social media. By the end of 2018, more than 2.6 billion people are expected to use at least one form of social media, according to Statista. Nearly 80 percent of Americans use social media and the most popular sites — Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp — all boast more than 1.5 billion members worldwide. Given the popularity of social media, it would make sense for e-commerce websites to exploit these services the best they can.  

Hill & Markes knows all of this. When an employee is doing a product demonstration, it’s often posted to Facebook Live or another form of social media. That way, if a customer is following them on Facebook, he or she is notified to participate in what is effectively a fast and convenient sales pitch.

“We’re actually extremely excited about our social marketing,” says Bruno.

Hill & Markes have reason to be jazzed about the prowess of its social media initiatives. For example, the company recently shot a video demonstrating a wood floor cleaning system. The footage documented the cleaning process and showed how the system reduced labor and produced impressive “before and after” results. To maximize exposure for the video, the company strategically built a website landing page for the content and also shared it across its social media platforms.

The same strategy was applied for Hill & Markes’ “New Product Spotlight,” which the company uses to introduce new and exciting products to customers on its website and social media channels. Bruno says the strategy used for the spotlight provided an instant return on investment. 

“I can’t tell you how many calls we get from vendor reps asking, ‘Hey, when are you going to start doing stuff for us?’” says Bruno.

Powers, Bruno, Schneringer and Gosson — they all view a jan/san distributor’s website, in one way or another, as a “24/7, 365 sales representative.” The strength of this sales representative is its unique, relevant and engaging content. But these blog posts, stories and live events on social media don’t create themselves. 

Many companies with an e-commerce website will hire a content writer, content creator or content specialist to spread the company’s word. So if a distributor wants its website to funnel sales opportunities down to its sales representative, it might have to pay.

“Everyone strives to have a content writer or something similar in house, but it’s a long-term investment that many don’t want to invest in,” says Gosson.

There are some things a jan/san distributor can do to make its website a sales tool even if determines it cannot or will not pay for a content creator. One idea is to have an employee (or employees) monitor the social media and webpages of a manufacturer to see if it has created content pitching one of the items that distributor sells. While this isn’t original information, it is shareable content and does inform those that visit a website or social media page.

A distributor could also focus on the look and quality of its website.

“What I advise to those that don’t want to make a full investment is to devote five to 10 hours a week to invest to your website and stick to it,” says Gosson. “In our case, it was essential that every page on our internet site was modified, changed or reviewed twice a year.”

Make no mistake, the traditional sales representative still has a major role. What a quality e-commerce website does is leverage a distributor’s resources to put that sales representative in a great position to succeed.

“It’s all about opening the door for the reps,” says Bruno. “We know they’re going to be able to hit it out of the park when they get that face-to-face.”

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