There are many ways companies try to strengthen distributor channels with mobile apps. But as a manufacturing marketer, you know it always comes back to sales.
One way to strengthen distributor channel sales with mobile apps is to help your partners change the process in which they sell your products.
But how do you do that if you don’t have direct access to your distributor reps?
Increasingly, marketers are employing their mobile sales apps to reach their distributor’s reps and influence the way they sell. Mobility is how business will thrive moving forward. Mobility is how consumers will continue to buy.
Given this, many marketers are seeking arguments to make the business case to move forward with mobile apps for their distributor partners.
So, without further adieu, here are three ways mobile applications can strengthen distributor channels for companies of any size:
1. Help them stop wasting paper
A great example of this is one company we work with. They wanted to cut down on the number of paper copies of brochures and three-pagers they were mailing out to OEMs every time they released a new product line. It turned out the distributor reps were tired of getting big boxes of brochures every month and were actually using older ones with the wrong information most of the time anyway.
It was a big “a-ha!” moment for both the manufacturer’s marketing team and the owner of the distributor.
In the end, the manufacturer made their iPad sales app available to the their distributor’s reps and helped them buy iPads for the team. They still send out print brochures of course, but the budget and waste have largely gone away because the distributor reps are using iPads in their sales process, too. PLUS the manufacturer has increased revenue through their OEM channel via the good will created by the app/iPad offer.
2. Get Your Latest Content to Distributors Faster
Another client of ours created some fairly elaborate PowerPoint presentations for their internal sales team to showcase a new product line on their iPads. These things were true works of art with videos embedded and timed entry of tables and graphs.
One of their sales team was doing a ride along with her distributor and showed her the presentations in the app. “Why don’t we have this too?” was her immediate response.
This got the ball rolling for providing access to the manufacturer’s sales app containing the PowerPoint presentations and other sales documents. Ultimately helping the distributor sell the new product faster with eased access to the latest hot sales presentations, the very same ones used by the manufacturer’s internal sales team.
Your company has made it to where they are today by coming up with new innovative ways to increase profitability, market share and brand awareness. New ideas, technologies and practices are the fuel which strengthen businesses. Those innovative ideas can strengthen your distribution and OEM networks, too.
Mobile apps can be the vehicle in which your new ideas will fuel your distribution network to new heights.
3. Use Pilots to Meet Directly with Distributor Reps
We continually hear from marketers that cannot directly make contact with distributor’s reps. The distributors literally do not let them contact the reps. I can imagine this is an even bigger issue with distributors in other countries given distance and time changes.
If you are in the process of rolling out a mobile app for distributors, we cannot recommend enough performing a pilot complete with expectations for the app and training on how to use it. During pilots, we recommend at least 2 meetings with the team. Even if this meeting is by WebEx or GoToMeeting, you are talking directly to their reps!
Once the app is launched to your distributor’s reps in the field, the work isn’t over! Setting up regular feedback sessions even if it is a survey help these new ideas stick and strengthen distributor channels. After all, they represent your product and your company even if you can’t talk to them.
Can mobile apps strengthen distributor channels?
Ultimately, the answer is up to you and how much effort you put in. Clearly, we have shown you three ways to accomplish this; go green, access your latest hot stuff, and use the pilot to interact directly with distributors reps.
How are you strengthening your distributor channels this year? Is a mobile app in the cards?
You can read more about how to avoid critical mistakes rolling out iPads to distributors right here.