Again, some clients may prefer an outside sales rep. Yet, in some cases, a distributor may have to change the arrangement from an outside sales rep to an inside sales rep which the client may see as a degradation.

Having a conversation to explain the change can go a long way to comfort hard feelings.

“The conversation needs to include the question, ‘Am I bringing you value?,’” says Sawchuk. “If I’m bringing value, we need to raise the gross profit dollars by increasing sales or sales per order, or cutting costs to serve, or changing product mix, etc.”

Sawchuk suggests distributors be clear and explain why they’re not able to use the time this way. If the value is being provided, most customers will work with the distributor to find a win-win solution.

Such a conversation could lead to a number of different scenarios. One possibility is the customer may begin to buy more from the sales rep. One potential negative outcome is the customer may choose to go with another distributor.

Ultimately, a distributor needs to determine what level of sales service they need to offer a customer in order to maintain that customer while also making a profit, says Pancero.

Servicing a client with an inside sales rep can be more effective and better for the client. A good inside sales rep, like an outside one, should be a great salesperson and provide the client top-level service. Generally, an inside sales rep can offer a client the opportunity for more regular yet briefer contact. For many customers, they are ultimately more comfortable with this arrangement.

The third part of the sales triad, a customer service person, is also part of the team. This person is reactive and is focused on processing orders. “Each part of the sales team is part of a chain, and they are only as strong as their weakest link,” says Sawchuk.

How should distributors divvy up their sales team? Sawchuk suggests using net income, growth and potential. Typically, for a firm with 1,000 clients, the top 200-300 are serviced by an outside sales rep. The next 300 are serviced by an inside sales rep and the final 400-500 work with customer service.

previous page of this article:
Who Needs Outside Sales Reps
next page of this article:
The Value Of Customer Loyalty