Jan 04 2016

5 Best Practices For A National And Regional Account Program

By Bob Linderman, Director, Strategic Account Management, IBC

In Part 1 of this blog series, we explored how independent distributors can pool their resources through the “Power of One” to service larger regional and national accounts. In this second part of “Maximizing the Value of National and Regional Account Opportunities”, IBC offers ideas and solutions in order to create win-win-win opportunities that lend themselves to a cohesive national account program.

Part 2.

For the distributor that’s never been involved with a national or regional account initiative, the undertaking may be daunting. After all, “independents” are independent for a reason, right? Used to working in their own orbits, these distributors often have to shift cultural mindsets in order to start thinking more as team players. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it may take some work for the firm that’s not naturally accustomed to joining forces with other distributors for the greater good.

  1. One of the first actions distributors should be taking is consider the financial resources needed to acquire, implement, and support a national agreement. Understand that it may take time for the new arrangement to become profitable, particularly if consignment inventory or a buyback is required.
  2. Next, ensure that you have a capable staff onboard that’s standing by ready to win, implement, execute, and manage a national agreement. Without this strong support structure, the national or regional account system will not function properly.
  3. Once the financial and human resource aspects of your national account initiative are in place, it’s time to look at the products and services that you offer and how well these resources align with the customer’s needs. Put simply, you have to be able to fulfill those end user requirements – a mandate that could in some cases mean realigning your own internal inventory structure, adding new product lines, and/or creating a new menu of service offerings. And while no one expects you to overhaul your business model overnight in order to leverage one new opportunity, flexibility and adaptability are key traits in today’s business environment.
  4. To support your new regional and national account activities, you’ll want to make sure you have the data and reporting capabilities in place to properly manage the initiative(s). By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), documenting cost savings, and offering customized invoicing, for example, you’ll be able to maximize the relationship without having to allocate an inordinate amount of manpower, time, and financial resources to the cause.
  5. As a final point, national account initiatives operate most effectively when distributors can provide a physical presence at each user site. This physical presence may be at the customer’s brick-and-mortar plant or at your own firm’s physical location. Regardless of where, the key is to be physically present for the customer on a regular, predictable basis.

Taking the Leap When it comes time to pursue and secure national accounts, independent distributors can either go it alone or align with an organization like IBC to get the job done in a very strategic and methodic fashion. By wrapping a “technology bow” around our distributor members, preferred suppliers, and end users, we’re able to create win-win-win scenarios that lend themselves to an extremely cohesive national account program.

Aligning your distributorship with a larger, global organization that handles much of the “process” behind the national or regional account also helps remove some of risk that distributors tend to shoulder when setting up such arrangements. After all, simply setting up the meetings and completing the bid process can take time and effort that smaller firms don’t always have to spare. Now is the time to start considering regional and national accounts for your sales funnel, knowing that the competition for business is only going to increase in coming years. Rather than lose that valued customer to a larger entity, or risk missing out on key market opportunities, sometimes you have to take a big leap forward and try something new. Isn’t it time your company took that leap?

“Aligning your distributorship with a larger, global organization that handles much of the “process” behind the national or regional account also helps remove some of risk that distributors tend to shoulder when setting up such arrangements”

Interested in learning more about IBC’s National Account Program?

Contact Bob Linderman:
Email: rlinderman@industrialbuyers.com
Phone: (860) 246-1618 ext. 130

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