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Distributor Loyalty and Leads

Sometime back Bluff Manufacturing created an important discussion about building and nurturing healthy and mutually beneficial manufacturer-distributor relationships that would ultimately help in creating a loyal customer base. It’s time to re-visit that topic again and to reinforce that message.

We can all agree on one thing – building and maintaining customer loyalty should be a top priority for both distributors and manufacturers. That’s what creates customer confidence in not only the product, but in the distributor and the manufacturer.

As a distributor, one sure-fire way to establish that sense of goodwill with your customers is to establish a similar relationship with your manufacturer. When customers sense that the relationship between the two parties is built on trust and integrity, they are able to experience the same sense of trust and goodwill with their distributors from whom they ultimately make the purchase.

Let’s look at two scenarios that could jeopardize this circle of trust. The first incident involves a customer who contacts Bluff Manufacturing through our website with a clear intent to purchase a Bluff product. We spend time with the customer assessing the application and finding our best product fit for them in addition to qualifying their ability to pay. Bluff (true to its word) channels the lead to a regional distributor who then proceeds to sell the customer another manufacturer’s product. In this case, Bluff would not only lose a sale, but a potential repeat customer as well.  After a one-time purchase, the customer may not be motivated enough to come back for repeat purchases.  In the above-mentioned scenario, the customer came looking for a Bluff product and was either up-sold or sold-across another manufacturer’s product. The customer now knows that there is an inherent lack of trust between the supplier and dealer right away. On top of that, if the customer was to experience any product defects or is not satisfied with the product s/he bought, they may become wary of the distributor that sold them another product. In an actual incident, a customer who had initiated contact with Bluff called us back to complain about their experience with a distributor who was not selling them the brand they had requested. Meanwhile, the distributor stands to lose a valuable customer while also causing damage to the relationship with his/her own supplier.

Scenario two, Bluff Manufacturing receives a strong qualified lead through its many lead generation efforts. Again, true to its word, Bluff channels the lead to a local distributor. The distributor does not follow-up with the lead in a timely manner, or worse, does not follow-up with the lead at all. At this point, the clearly irritated customer is not interested in conducting business with either Bluff Manufacturing or the distributor. Again, a valuable customer lost and potential sales foregone. But far more important, the greatest consequence for both Bluff Manufacturing and its partners is the loss of reputation.

What we need to keep in mind is that loyalty and integrity will benefit both the manufacturer and the distributor in the long run – financially and otherwise.

The level of trust and partnering between manufacturer and distributor in turn provides the foundation for creating customer loyalty.

As manufacturers and distributors, we need to create a synergy that benefits all parties without compromising on the values that created the relationship in the first place. We need to create a combined value chain of positive synergies that the customer can both experience and benefit from. You will find in Bluff Manufacturing a loyal, honest, and enterprising manufacturer. We have undertaken many facets of marketing in order to add more leads to the pipeline and to increase sales for both our distributors and ourselves. We channel leads we get directly through our own marketing efforts to our regional distributors and in return, we hope you will put in your best efforts to sell Bluff products and work together with us to achieve our common business goals.

Let’s continue to share ideas and selling strategies. Let’s continue to keep the dialogue open. And let’s continue to keep the focus on the end-user – our customers. By working together to build customer capital, we all stand to win! It’s really that simple.