I have been noticing a common value proposition from distribution companies – “your one-stop shop for all things _________.” Some of the sales reps for these companies use this value proposition as their main lever. I tell them this is a mistake.
Here’s why – the web changes everything about sourcing. I don’t need to limit myself to one vendor for all my _______ needs. In fact, I have a subtle doubt about that approach – am I getting the best deal, product or solution if I go with one company exclusively? The “catalogue mentality” is fading from our society and being replaced with a research mentality.
The proverbial old days were serviced by the Sears Roebuck catalogue where they had everything in there from clothes to tools to kitchenware. I remember looking through that catalogue when I was young to check out the toys. My kids think that idea is crazy. They hop on the web and visit multiple sites to track down a specific toy or game.
Today, distribution sales requires salespeople to take more of a value-added reseller approach. Customers are less impressed by companies that offer many different lines. If needed, the customer can probably source the lines themselves from alternative channels. Sales reps have to find the value their company brings to the marketplace and then leverage it in their approach.
One example is a friend of mine who sells office furniture. He does not have exclusivity in this territory and there are bigger competitors. His value is to provide certified interior design services. I wouldn’t say that is a revolutionary approach, but his designers are quite skilled and the salespeople know how to leverage their designers’ abilities. The fact that they are smaller than their competition allows them to provide highly attentive service to their customers. Simple and effective.
Successful selling requires an detailed understanding of your value proposition. If it is no more developed than “one-stop shop,” I would suggest you revisit your company’s offering to the market…unless your company is called Amazon.com.