I’ve spent a considerable amount of time the past few months dis- cussing some of the big chal- lenges our industry is facing. These trials have forced us to look at ourselves and consider
changing how we approach our internal and external customers and go-to-market strategy.
But while things are changing rapidly, it’s not all doom and gloom for
the channel. Granted, we certainly can’t
sit back with a “we’ll worry about that
later” attitude or else these threats will
overtake us. We need to stand tall, meet
the challenges, and rise above them to
strengthen and reshape the future of
the industry. We need to be aware of
the outside forces and be educated, dedicated, and confident as we move toward a refreshed strategy.
I recall a time more than 20 years ago
when many of us were shocked that
manufacturers decided to create relationships with the DIYs. The manufacturers’ message at the time was that
they could not afford to stand by the
channel alone, as our customer reach
was mainly to contractors and not end-users. Manufacturers changed their go-to-market strategy and found new ways
to deploy their sales while continuing to
support our channel.
The majority of us are still here be-
cause we decided to radically change
course. We, too, found new ways to
connect. We opened our doors to new
faces and stopped following marginal
go-to-market strategies that resulted in
little return. We reinvented, reinvested,
Earlier this year I attended Canada’s
Electro-Federation National Conference
and learned the term “we-relationship vs.
e-relationship.” We have always hung
our hats on “we-relationships”—and
this won’t change any time soon. We
will continue to provide customers with
high-touch, value-added service. We will
continue to offer them vast inventory,
solutions to complex challenges, and in-
depth knowledge of their world. We will
continue to do what Amazon cannot.
There has been some conversation
around the services we provide. How
do we explain the value of those services to our customers? To help answer
that question, NAED’s Eastern Region
Council recently completed its first
Selling Services Benchmarking Survey. (Read
more about the survey on page 24.) This
report not only gives valuable insight
into the types of services currently being
offered, but also can help to determine
what services should have costs associated with them and offer guidance on
how to assess a price for those services.
The only thing we should be afraid
of is not understanding manufacturers’
initiatives and intentions. Which manufacturers are going to market with Amazon, Grainger, Google Supply, and
Alibaba? How do they intend to do so?
What products will they offer, and who
will distribute those products? Will there
be different packaging? Will we have
any price protection? We need to be educated about the manufacturers’ intentions and their go-to-market strategies.
Most importantly, we need to be educated about our customers. We should
never lose sight of their needs; we must
be aware of their pain points and their
buying habits. While the sales force is
doing this, the marketing team should
be identifying ways to market its brand,
people, and products against Amazon,
Google, and the rest. Don't be afraid—
innovate around the disruptive chaos
and capture the opportunity. Be tenacious. Invent your way out of the FUD
(fear, uncertainty, and doubt) factor and
let your customers help get you there.
This is also an opportunity to show
our employees how we lead amid the
dangers that threaten our ability to survive. Plant seeds to nurture team members and inspire them to innovate. Support their work-life balance and growth
opportunities. Let them feel our creative
momentum and encourage them to
contribute and encourage collaboration
We are extremely fortunate to have a
trade association that is dedicated to
doing research projects that we cannot
get anywhere else. Please take advantage of these resources as you develop
the blueprint for your remodel. Access
NAED’s research; visit naed.org/research.
The future of who we become is up to
us. Let’s do it! ;
Barsema is vice president, business
administration, Revere Electric Supply,
Chicago, and former vice president and
CFO of BJ Electric Supply in Madison,
Wis. She can be reached at maureenb@
by Maureen Barsema
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