As manufacturers generate leads and pass them to distributors who are responsible for the follow up and nurturing process, there can still be a disconnect because systems and process are often very different between the two entities. Plus, top line distributors work with many different suppliers, including competing manufacturers. It is not enough to manufacture top quality product at competitive prices. The companies that are likely to gain more attention from the distributor are those that make the flow of leads, orders and all other transactional activity easier.
Lead Sharing: EDI is More than Just Order Fulfillment and Forecasting
Most RFQs, leads and inquiries come in through the manufacturer. From trade show inquiries, to advertising and most importantly direct to a company’s website, the flow of leads is the life blood of new business. It’s the handoff from manufacturer to distributor that’s critical. Companies spend a great deal of money and time to cultivate marketing qualified leads.
From the Old Days of Paper & Fax to Electronic Communications
Today the relationships in industrial distribution are complex, requiring channels of communication between manufacturers of parts and components to effectively communicate with their distribution network electronically, on a real-time basis. This method of communication is known as EDI, electronic data interchange.
There are two options for industrial manufacturers to get their products to the end user; direct sales and distribution sales. The distribution channel has existed for as long as there have been manufacturers. Consider one well known manufacturer of fittings and valves. Beginning in the 1940’s, the company began to grow rapidly with a direct sales model but soon found demand outpacing their ability to effectively sell and ship direct to customers all across the country. The company quickly adopted a distribution model by funding independent, yet exclusive, distributors in major industrial markets.