Once distributors have gathered and analyzed the data, its time to invest sales resources in segments that will result in the best ROI.

“A lot of folks don’t even think in terms of investing sales resources into an account,” says Kahle. “Those are not words they would have strung together, but that concept is crucial to taking your distributorship to a higher level. You cannot be everything to everyone. You have to be something of value to people that have potential. That takes work to figure out.”

Nolan suggests starting with a 

“Pool your key personnel and your salesforce, along with the purchasing department, and ask people what they think the company is good at,” he says. “You’d be surprised at what you hear.”

According to Nolan, employees’ beliefs about the company’s strengths and weaknesses are often misplaced.

Analyzing their customer base puts 
distributors in a better position to determine where they want to invest their time and resources.

“You have to look yourself in the mirror as a company and be honest,” says Nolan. “You can look at a segment where maybe you had 5 percent penetration and ask yourself if you want to get it to 20 percent or if you think you’re wasting your time. Maybe you’re better off growing in the segments you’re already good at.”

Customer segmentation produces a wealth of information, and while distributors can’t act on all of it, they can use it to their advantage.
“I have always believed data is power,” says Nolan. “Even if you get data back and you don’t do anything with it, or it didn’t show you what you thought it would show you, you learn from it. It makes organizations stronger.”  

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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