MDM Podcast: Finding Focused Direction for Your Sales Team

With disruption as the new normal, plenty of distributors spent the past several years restructuring, re-sizing and re-tooling their sales team to best match the current business climate while also making it as agile as possible.

This was the subject of the latest MDM Podcast, which featured a conversation between Dorn Group’s James Dorn and John Gunderson and MDM’s Tom Gale. The trio tackled the importance of leveraging supplier resources, sales enablement, marketing teams and data to improve distributor sales performance while distributors remain constrained by talent shortages that only figure to worsen as veteran retirements escalating.

To combat this, Dorn and Gunderson emphasized the need for deeper supplier partnerships, specialized sales forces and AI-infused technology to enhance sales operations.

The specialization factor, Gunderson says, is part of distributors’ — especially large ones — effort to be knowledge experts for their customers rather than generalists. Technology has made this easier.

John Gunderson

“With the explosion of digital and how much information you have, they’re using more specialists, but also the marketing teams and the sales support teams are doing a much better job of reaching that specialized sale and customer more effectively,” Gunderson tells Gale on the podcast. “I think that’s a big part of what (MDM’s) SHIFT Conference is about — how can you use AI and digital and sales specialization to get better every day. We get a chance to work a lot of distributors and manufacturers that are doing just that. They’re thinking about it holistically, but they’re investing a lot more resources in specialized sales, kind of at a specific market or specific products.”

Further, the discussion stressed the importance of strategic planning for distributors to set themselves up for growth in 2024, including investing in resources and positioning themselves as solutions partners to their customers. Solving customers’ problems is a much more entrenched value proposition than simply being a product house.

In a session at MDM’s 2024 SHIFT Conference — to be held Sept. 11-13 in Denver — Dorn and Gunderson are set to get into the specifics of how distributors can drive forward their sales team optimization by pulling levers of supplier resources, sales enablement, marketing and more.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of what you have in place, Dorn noted on the podcast. It can be quite the opposite.

James Dorn

“We’re going to unpack a lot of really unique tools and approaches to working with your existing structure and getting more results out of it,” Dorn said on the podcast. “A big theme behind that is leveraging the assets you have in place and one of the biggest ones is your supplier base. There’s really a big opportunity for distributors partnering deeper with their suppliers. We’re excited about this topic because there’s going be a lot of actionable tools and program examples that we’ll bring to the table to help distributors get their get their minds wrapped around what’s possible today.”

Prior to SHIFT, MDM will showcase a plethora of sales optimization content at our virtual Distributor Sales Summit, held July 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET. This free event will strengthen your sales performance playbook by addressing how customer buying behavior is changing, what agile sales teams are doing differently and the strategies that market share-takers are acting on to thrive in today’s business climate.

Listen to the full podcast via the embedded audio player above, and you can find our full archive of past MDM Podcasts here.

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