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Many pundits have thrown around the phrase “value added selling” without specifying what that really means in terms of definitive actions. It has been my contention for many years that if a sales representative is not providing something more than a price list and dealer credit application, they will at some point be unceremoniously cut out of the picture. If you take an even wider view of the supply chain, from ideation to satisfied end user, you will realize the precarious position any industry participant puts themselves in by not adding some substantive, measurable value. What follows are a few examples of how our team at Reflex Marketing serves our customers and vendors alike, with the overarching goal of providing consultative services and transcending beyond the transactional component of our livelihood.

Proposals based on the account’s profile…

One size does not fit all in the musical instrument and pro audio channel, nor in the vertical markets that we can explore on behalf of our vendor partners. By taking adequate time and carefully crafting order proposals where the product mix meets the dealer’s particular situation, a sales rep can add value and save time for the buyer. As trust is built and recommendations are embraced, this method continues to bear fruit. Stay on top of replenishment orders to increase turns and offer expanded product assortments where appropriate, always with an eye towards providing a consultative approach. To do this properly, the account manager must understand the customer’s business, asking questions and observing the various market segments served. Spend time on reseller websites, remain aware of the competitive landscape, and politely point out areas where a new brand investment fits in or expands revenue and profit opportunity.

Reporting back to the vendor community…

Providing thoughtful feedback to manufacturers and distributors is another specific example of “earning your keep”. When you observe and share market changes, competitor blunders, find a new vertical to mine or offer sensible ideas, the firm gives back to the vendor. Supplying channel intelligence and bona fide quality information both improves your standing and adds considerable value to your relationships. Helping a vendor recognize a new customer segment to explore or collaborating on effective dealer programs are more examples of how field salespeople can engage.

Walk the walk…

Please do not simply talk about adding value. Demonstrate it. Make the buyer’s job easier by providing clear and concise information about a brand or product line that would appear to be a good fit. Invest your time, so it is evident that you did your homework. Create customized recommendations where appropriate, avoiding cookie-cutter proposals. Step into the fray and proactively diffuse contentious situations, and do not shy away from presenting strong advocacy for your customers. Become an empathic listener with your constituents up and down the supply chain and provide thoughtful advice when asked for input. Do any combination of the above, and you will distinguish yourself among your peer group, and simultaneously become a more valuable resource for resellers and vendors alike.

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