I joined Avery in August this year with no experience of wholesale or dealer channels, nor in fact the office supplies industry as a whole. As such, I was keen to gain some first-hand experience of just how things work within this sector. With this in mind, I welcomed the opportunity to spend a day with Wordflow Office Products – an established dealer in London – to show me the ‘other side’ of things and get to know one of our clients a little better.
With Wordflow’s sales manager as my guide, I spoke with members of the telesales team to gauge how much they knew about the Avery brand and our product offering already, as well as about their general sales approach with customers.
First of all, it was clear that Wordflow was in need of an Avery ‘refresher course’ – everything from product information and collateral to sales training. They’d been a bit neglected. But, just like me, they were keen to learn.
Apparently, it had been quite a long time since Avery had met with the team face to face, but Wordflow had enjoyed success with other brands holding ‘promo days’ in the office – blasting the phones, pushing promotions and prizes for the most successful individuals. It became obvious to me that sometimes the more personal and hands-on approach works best – the importance of regular contact and brand exposure with dealers should not be underestimated.
Another key takeaway for me was just how much promotional collateral is made available via a wholesaler’s online platform. The promotion run by Avery was in danger of becoming lost in a sea of many others. But, even if we are not selling to them directly, regular interaction with dealers can play a big part in encouraging them to take up current offers, prize draws and the like to maximise uptake.
When talking with the sales team, the consistent message was that most staff were not fully aware of the complete Avery offering. I suspect this could be the case with many dealers – and manufacturers – in the office products space.
There was also a preference to offer a cheap private label equivalent instead of a branded one. A re-education on the merits of Avery products was needed. Switching can be a challenge for the end consumer, but empowering the sales force can play a big part in creating brand advocates within the dealership channel.
It was great to hear the creative ideas within the team, particularly around growing customer brand loyalty and working collaboratively on incentives and promotions. And it’s those with the most contact with end consumers – the sales force – who need to feel supported and equipped with all the right information to take to their customers.
I found the whole experience extremely useful and would highly recommend making time for this. For an employer – any employer, not only a manufacturer – the benefits are not just evident for your bright new staff member but also for your entire strategy; it helps a newcomer like me to really get a feel for the industry, but it ultimately also grows the business.
The younger generation is constantly and actively learning new things. Use this to your advantage and send them on ‘research missions’ like this to gain a real insight into how other parts of the supply chain work. It’s like getting a fresh pair of eyes to check things over, ask questions and bring original ideas to the table. It also does wonders for your relationship with the dealers themselves.
Moving forward, I will focus more on ensuring dealers are well-equipped with marketing materials to make our promotions a lot more visible. We need to be on their radar – all the time, not just some of the time.