CRM is ‘hot’ in distribution according to NAW speaker

By Jack Keough

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a hot topic in the distribution business as more and more distributors use CRM software, Mark Dancer, an industry consultant, told attendees at the second day of the annual meeting of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors in Washington, D.C.

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Dancer, founder of consulting firm Channelvation and author of a forthcoming book on CRM, said that CRM is an important tool for helping salespeople become more productive and distributors become more profitable.

Dancer conducted a study of more than 200 distributors that says CRM helps distributors manage interactions with customers and prospects internally across a wide range of segments including sales, marketing and customer support.

He also cited mobility as an important reason for using CRM as more salespeople use tablets and smartphones. “Now you’re actually putting something into the sales forces’ hands …where they do business and use it in the field,” Dancer said.

His study shows that 60% of distributors are now using some form of CRM and the other 40% are in the adoption phases, actively shopping for the right CRM program to fit their needs.

“All in all CRM has established quite a toehold in distribution,” Dancer said.

Scott Thomas, marketing director of Parksite, a building materials distributor, gave real-life examples of how CRM has benefited his company. He explained to the audience that information is not only shared by the sales force, but throughout his entire organization.

Thomas said CRM allows leadership “to be looking at sales in progress every day rather than just looking at call reports. It’s pro-active management.”

Other sessions today will focus today on finding and keeping your sales talent and an address by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Jack Keough was the editor of Industrial Distribution magazine for more than 26 years. He often speaks at many industry events and seminars. He can be reached at john.keough@comcast.net or keoughbiz@gmail.com

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