As I further my professional career in the industrial market, from being an outside sales rep working with customers, to being a director of merchandising working with suppliers/manufacturers, to my current role as Vice President of Merchandising with AgoNow, there is one thing that is clear: Relationships do matter, and can result in productive and profitable partnerships.
In today’s rapidly shifting market, people still want to buy from people. They need those “people” or partners to help them grow their businesses, syndicate content, measure carrying cost, etc. That requires trust. But how do you measure trust? If you are a distributor, and a manufacturer or wholesaler is asking for financials, would you give it to them? Would you trust that they are truly trying to help you advance your business to become more profitable and sustainable?
We all have some customers (although not many) that tell us, “you know why I buy from you? I trust you. You are a true partner, and I feel that you have the best interests of me and my business in mind.”
But it has to be more than that. If a supplier has the trust of a distributor, that’s great. But that supplier must also have the tools to forward that distributor. The competition for distributors is only going to increase with the advancement of technology.
In working with suppliers and distributors, I frequently get a laugh when I ask, “why can’t you do that?” Their response: “Well, our company has never done it that way, and we are not going to change.” This wall that blocks creative thinking and doing things differently needs to be removed. Both suppliers and distributors must be agile, have open minds and trust those that are trying to help.
Regardless of what role you play in this industrial market, the fear of allowing someone inside your business must come to an end. We all need true partnerships to help us advance our businesses.
Jake Kilian is Vice President of Merchandising for AgoNow.