The relationship between manufacturer and distributor should be one of clear communication and streamlined workflows. Both have to work together for their businesses to be successful. One of our manufacturing clients was struggling with their distributor relationships because of the primitive tracking and communication system they had in place. They used Excel spreadsheets to manage distributor information and leveraged MailChimp for email communications.
The spreadsheets didn’t provide cohesive insight into their distributor chain and really limited their business. They sell to authorized contractors and have different grades of products. So, while one contractor carries just one line of products, another contractor may carry all three. It was extremely difficult to see who sold what, where they were located, and their sales history. This made planning almost impossible and managers were unable to make informed business decisions.
MailChimp also had its problems. When our client sent bulk emails, the recipient’s mail server would automatically flag them as junk mail. So even if they were able to send communications, given their limited view into their distribution channel, it was unlikely the distributors received the emails.
The TM Group is a Certified Microsoft Dynamics Partner with dual Gold competencies in ERP and CRM based out of Michigan and came to the rescue with Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows our client to track a lot more information about their business and the distributors with whom they work. This allows them to create targeted emails lists. They can now see what distributors sell what products, what region they’re in, and even the customers they sold the product to. They can also rank their distributors to see how much business they do and track all the different relationships they have with other distributors. If the end customer fills out a warranty card, that gets sent to our client, the manufacturer of the product. Now our client can see which contractor did the work as well as track the end customer to maintain proper communications, increasing customer service and support. For example, they can send an email three years after an end customer purchased their product to see how it’s working. Microsoft Dynamics CRM added visibility into their end customer, helping their manufacturing process. They know what products are hot, as well as which ones are not, so they can effectively plan what to manufacture at what time of year.
In addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we helped our client implement SalesFUSION, an e-marketing automation tool that works seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. SalesFUSION can be used stand-alone, but when coupled with a customer relationship management tool such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, much greater marketing power is realized. Unlike MailChimp, SalesFUSION shows up as a recognizable domain and doesn’t get flagged as SPAM. This alone was a huge improvement for our client’s communication with their distributor chain. But because SalesFUSION is fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it also shows our client a vast amount of information they never had insight to before. The targeted lists created in CRM help our client tailor specific and relevant messages to their distributors. This clearer communication has streamlined their working relationships and improved supply chain efficiency. Our client can also do more sales education with their distributors, making sure they have the right selling points about the specific line of products they sell. This benefit helps our client’s distributors sell more of their product, increasing the profitability for both entities.
In addition to their existing distributors, our client can now market to potential distributors effectively. SalesFUSION has advanced tracking capabilities that allows them to track how many emails they sent, who specifically opened the emails, how long they had it opened, if they downloaded a whitepaper, or watched educational videos, and more. They can now track all the stats about the email they send out as well as what happened afterward. This insight helps them decide whether something they sent out was helpful or whether they need to change it out.
Our client has made a huge transition from a non-targeted, ineffective marketing and communication system to a comprehensive tool that tells a lot about how effective they’re being with the information they send. The power of SalesFUSION and Microsoft Dynamics CRM together gives our client measurable results so they can fine-tune their marketing programs and ultimately grow their business.