A manufacturer and broker are a symbiotic team: one makes and delivers on the goods, the other makes sure people know how great the goods are and gets people to buy them.
While watching Jerry Maguire on a recent sequestered evening, it struck me that the relationship between Rod Tidwell and his agent, Jerry Maguire, is the cinematic equivalent of the relationship manufacturers have with their brokers.
Just as Rod relies on Jerry to extol his gridiron prowess to the coaches who need his skills, you count on your sales team to not only ensure that your products are getting to the right people at the right time, but to also convey the data and feedback they pick up on the proverbial street, helping you to better respond to market needs.
At FSEnablers, we’ve worked with many manufacturer and broker clients in the last 20 years, and believe the following elements are essential to make the most of your sales team’s expertise, as well as continuing to increase sales year over year.
Completeness of Sales Call Information
Are you collecting the right data from your broker sales team? Are you collecting the information in a consistent way? Does the data you get stay yours?
The answers to these questions impact whether you are ahead or behind the curve when it comes to running your business efficiently and gaining an edge on competitors.
Building the most complete picture of your customers and prospects is foundational to making more sales. Collecting sales call information from your brokers is key for the continued growth of your business such as:
- when the call was made
- the items presented on the call
- how far along is the sales opportunity
- how many items will be hitting the pipeline
- what is the estimated order date
Having this information helps you project what your sales numbers will be, what business may be gained, and what business may be lost. Even when an interaction ends as a no sale, having the operator-specific information paints a clearer picture regarding how your customers are or aren’t making purchasing decisions.
Turning today’s “No Sale” into tomorrow’s new customer is often just a matter of timing and capitalizing on past sales calls’ details.
It’s a Two-Way Relationship
Staying on top of whether or not your sales team is selling and making their numbers will always be your top priority. A close runner-up is nurturing a healthy back and forth relationship. When your RSMs are tuned-in to how motivated your brokers feel about the work they’re doing, and what ideas or feedback they may have about your products, the stronger the relationship gets.
A broker represents many manufacturers, so keeping your products at the forefront of their attention can sometimes be a challenge. Keeping an open line of communication ensures your team is aligned with your messaging, but also keeps you informed about the perception of your products on the street. This give and take in the relationship leads to more efficient selling – a win-win!
Hold on to Your Intellectual Property
The data your sales team gathers is much more than a collection of random trivia: well-targeted marketing campaigns and perfectly timed sales calls depend on the market data your sales teams provide. While turnover can be a problem in the food service industry, business is business, and change is unavoidable. Should you lose a direct sales rep or decide to switch brokers, hanging onto all the customer and prospect data in your system is crucial.
Setting up a streamlined sales call sharing process with your brokers is a great first step to getting the info about your customers organized in your system. From there, utilize a secure way to manage access to your information so people see just what they need to see. You will also want to protect your data in a secure format helps protect your intellectual property and prevents people from taking it with them should they switch companies.