Distributors, wholesalers, and dealers all are connected to move products. Each of these partners is poised to sell your product onto the next step in their chain – usually without the manufacturer seeing much of what’s going on. Truth be told, once your shipment has been delivered to your distributor, your ability, as the manufacturer, to track, market, and push the sales of your product is pretty limited. In this all-too-common model, the manufacturer is not only disconnected from the front-line sales team and evolving market needs but may also have zero visibility of the final buyer. Distributor & dealer performance is managed remotely, through performance metrics and sales rebates.
Today, with the advent of QR codes creating smart packaging, the manufacturer has gained the upper hand, and won a powerful tool to effectively monitor and manage his commercial performance, without actually being on the battlefront.
By smart tagging your product before it leaves the factory with an immutable QR code, you are effectively activating your product, giving it a unique digital identity. When applied to product batches, the secure code allows shipments to be tracked, improving supply chain awareness and increasing the likelihood of on-shelf availability, for end consumers.
There are certainly a lot of ways for QR codes to make B2B sales value chains more efficient. For this article, we’re going to focus on three of the most disruptive ways digitized products are transforming the old distributor + dealer B2B sales model.
1. B2B Sales Management Platform: Motivating the Front Line
Smart packaging keeps QR codes hidden until the dealer makes the sale and opens the packaging or unseals the lid. Scanning the now-visible code with a smartphone is proof of purchase, a log that the now-connected brand-owner can see and measure. By giving points for each scan and enrolling the dealer in your loyalty program, you’ve got the beginnings of a platform or gateway to keep front-line salesman engaged and stimulated. Combine the right mix of achievement goals, plus incentives with useful & engaging content and you’ve created a powerful sales management and motivation tool. Throw in a leader board and the platform becomes a highly competitive environment for dealers to fight each other to be the best.
2. B2B Sales Upskilling: Enabling the Front Line
Increasing product knowledge and delivering sales training to your dealer’s sales team is a compelling way to win over the hearts and minds of an often-neglected sales force. While this may sound easy, delivering and then evaluating comprehensive learning to extensive dealer networks has always been a major challenge.
With product-tagged QR codes providing access and authentication to a learning platform, salesmen within the brand loyalty program can enroll for courses and curricula. Balance topics across four key areas to broaden learning: product knowledge, technical training, industry expertise, and sales training. Use the platform to deliver, test & evaluate product learning. Reward your top performers, your “experts” with achievement badges and promotions to higher tiers. Make sure you keep raising the bar, so they keep coming back to learn more.
3. B2C Sales Market Knowledge: Insights from the Front Line
Being able to build up a composite profile of your end customer need is only the tip of the knowledge iceberg. Reliance on dealers and distributors to collect the insights on who, how, and why your market moves will always be fraught with difficulties until you are totally in control.
Whether it’s car mechanics, plumbers, electricians, air-conditioner servicers or builders, a QR code-powered sales platform is empowering these tradesmen to recommend and sell your brand – but they are also your eyes and ears on the ground. Contact with the buyer at the point of sale is the ground zero, a moment to listen and learn about product features, pricing, your competitors — to capture and send market intelligence back through the sales platform.
Smart packaging is causing a tectonic shift in the way brands and commercial leaders run their B2B sales operations. QR codes provide a link to the actual, remote salesman tasked with selling your product, getting you a ringside seat at the sharp end of their sales process.
When you empower your sales team to communicate with buyers for engagement, not just for sales, you’re enrolling a squad of proxy marketers, willing to do your bidding for a reward. What’s the key to nurturing and managing your newfound soldiers?: The right mix of rewards to enrich, entertain and educate.