Understanding the customer journey – and your internal team’s journey – is critical in B2B industries like manufacturing and distribution. A direct sales representative works for a manufacturer and represents only that organization. Her role is to meet with customers, support the distribution channel, and sell her organization’s products. It is very common for the direct salesperson to go on joint sales calls with her channel partners, or even make sales calls herself. After all, her only responsibility is to sell the products she represents.
It is not uncommon for the direct sales representative to spend a significant amount of time supporting the distribution channel as it is really an extension of herself. If the channel is engaged and focused on selling his products, she is able to cover more ground than she would be able to on his own. Knowing what her customers are purchasing is often reported through a point-of-sale report that confirms where products are being shipped.
A direct sales representative is often out in the field working with customers and supporting her channel partners. She often uses her laptop to do product demonstrations, but when in the car will more often than not use her mobile device. She also needs a way to request samples and request quotes for her customers. 82% of B2B decision makers think sales reps are unprepared, and she needs to have the right information at the right time to ensure she appears capable and prepared.
Providing Personalized Data
The direct sales rep only needs visibility to her customers and channel partners’ sales data. Providing access to relevant product information is critical, as is access to the customers she’s allowed to work with and the information and supporting content she needs to make the sale.
The Tools to Market Smarter
Tools like promotions, thought leadership content, and a list of potential products are good assets for a direct sales representative to present when meeting with a repeat customer. But she may also have products that could appeal to other areas of that customer’s organization. Without having a relationship established, it can be difficult to know how to appeal to other groups. She wants the ability to market more efficiently to groups like engineers, buyers, and subject matter experts by presenting information that is relevant to them. She wants a commerce site that can help her sell more products by utilizing it as a tool to expand her relationship with an organization. The ability to use marketing to more strategically target prospects is very important to her.
Interacting with the Direct Sales Representative
What She Does
- Works directly for the manufacturer
- Only sells products that the manufacturer she works for produces and are available in her territory
- Gets paid regardless of if she sells products or not, but sales performance is an important part of her job
What She Needs
- Access to information and sales content that helps her sell the products she represents
- An easy way to request samples, quotes, and other relevant information
- An easy way to order demo equipment when she needs to show a customer or train the channel
- Access to customer data and ordering that is happening both online and offline
Where You’ll Reach Her
She is usually out in the field working with her customers and channel partners. When not in the field, she is often working at out of a remote office, including her home if necessary. She uses her laptop to access data, as well as her mobile device.
What You Can Provide to Make Her Job Easier
- Access to sales data that is relevant to her and her customers is key, including notices and communication about her customers’ orders
- Complete and accurate product information including images, documentation, and more
- A list management tool that makes it easier to share new products with customers, or prepare a list of products for a project
- Solutions that are optimized for both her laptop and mobile device
To learn more about the other roles involved in the B2B buying process and how you can improve their experience, check out our guide The People of the Manufacturing and Distribution Buyer Journey.
Senior Commerce Consultant for Perficient Digital, a leading digital transformation consulting firm. Experience includes more than two decades in digital commerce, product management, business development and marketing for manufacturing and distribution organizations. Has provided strategic leadership for global suppliers and brands resulting in innovative techniques for improving the customer experience overall, reducing cost of sales and accelerating efficiencies within complex buying and selling scenarios. Authored articles for leading publications in the manufacturing, distribution and ecommerce industries.