Collaborate Through commonsku: Four Benefits that Drive Supplier Sales

9 min read

In a noisy, crowded market, suppliers find it difficult to be seen and heard.

Trade shows are expensive. Catalogs are increasingly irrelevant. Digital marketing is noisy.

Getting your product noticed above the clamor of a million other voices vying for attention has never been more difficult.

We’ve always let our customers and our growth ($375+ million in orders through the platform annually) speak for us, as a reflection on the quiet revolution that is taking place among our clients.

Suppliers are finding success with new ways to reach old markets, using new tactics to reach a new type of untapped customer, and discovering a bridge from mere social presence to active, social selling that fuels growth.

Following are four benefits suppliers have discovered from using commonsku.

 

#1 Landing New Accounts

 

Alex Symms, National Accounts and Digital Marketing Manager for Chameleon Like said, “When a collaborate project hits our screen, it’s a great opportunity for us to pitch targeted products for the event (then lead into a call-to-action afterward). This approach allows us to bring our expertise to the forefront and take the stress off the distributor on finding a product so they can focus on selling, rather than long, hard hours of researching product, quality, and reliability of a supplier.”

“It has opened doors with distributors who would not have ever contacted us personally.”

Alex continued, “We collaborate on many projects … it has opened doors with distributors who would not have ever contacted us personally, helps us get exposure to new distributors in which we weren’t aware of, and just makes us feel like we are giving back to the commonsku community by helping guide distributors into the right direction with product ideas.”

Not only does collaboration shorten the sales cycle but the platform also serves as a vital conduit to the industry, Alex explained:

“I personally use commonsku not just to prospect potential opportunities to provide product ideas for an upcoming project, but also use it to learn trends in the industry, listen to podcasts, even occasionally to have a little fun and see what’s going on in the community. It’s a great tool to quickly introduce new capacities, products, and offer expertise. commonsku gives us the opportunity to provide a seamless industry platform, allowing us to collaborate in a social network and still do our day to day without leaving the office chair.  It fits us perfectly!”

commonsku Tip: Collaborating with a distributor account for the first time gives you the opportunity to demonstrate all of your expertise, from sourcing to ideation to service. A first-time project, no matter how small or large, is a doorway; if handled successfully, it can lead to many more opportunities.

Inside the walls of a distributor office, referrals rule. Where do distributors turn to first, when sourcing a product or looking for a collaboration partner? They turn to their trusted colleagues. Every new project opportunity is a new beginning for a long-term customer relationship.

 

#2 Demonstrate Creative Responsiveness to Problems

 

How does commonsku land deals and enhance relationships? We asked Cody Belnap, Social Mastermind and Brand Strategist at Top 40 Supplier Snugz, he replied:

“About a month ago, Amy Hasseman of Hasseman Marketing & Communications, was seeking out 5,000 screen printed lanyards with a bulldog clip and clear vinyl pouch that needed to be in Ohio in two weeks. She expressed frustration within the commonsku community feed about not being able to connect with a supplier to put in a simple order for lanyards. In just a few minutes we had her connected with the SnugZ sales team so she could place the order. This interaction greatly enhanced our relationship with Amy and Hasseman Marketing & Communications and will lead to future sales.”

“commonsku is fun to use because it fosters genuine interaction between suppliers and distributors.” Cody continued. “Conversations are not solely based around promotional products, but also around new ideas for your business, inspiration, news, productivity and more.” 

“Collaborate is my favorite feature…it’s easy…to suggest products to distributors who have asked for help.”

commonsku tip: Distributors are in the problem-solving business. Every project they are working on is a solution to a problem and they operate under high-pressure deadlines. Creative responsiveness is the number one key to landing business with distributors.

For a distributor, time is of the essence, if they do not find a solution in a timely manner, they could likely lose the business. Every project is make-or-break. There are no unimportant orders in the life of a distributor.

Demonstrating creative responsiveness also serves a public audience. When Cody responded to Amy’s project, the responsiveness was seen and appreciated by more than just Amy. Many a distributor makes a mental note when they see a supplier who is responsive, they know who to turn to next, when in a jam.

 

#3 Listen, Learn, Engage (The Won-by-One Approach)

 

Maple Ridge is a supplier who not only shares compelling, engaging content, but invests in the community by being fully present, everyday, which leads to sales:

“Lorraine with buzztag just won the cheese package giveaway we ran on commonsku,” writes Nikki James, the Social Media Marketing Coordinator for Maple Ridge Farms, “buzztag is new to us and this could lead to a solid new relationship.”

“Distributors we meet on commonsku get it.”

“I feel like the distributors we meet on commonsku ‘get it,’ Nikki said. “They’re not order takers; they’re idea generators, brand builders, and marketing consultants. Commonsku offers a unique environment to interact and connect with distributors across North America. We can suggest ideas and products to distributors who can easily add them to client presentations or request additional information. It’s a laid-back, professional environment where relationships can sprout and grow into full-on partnerships (and we love the shout out feature!)”

“Considering there are several layers to relationship building, getting social sometimes is not enough,” writes Maple Ridge Farms’ Jodie Schillinger, Director of Customer Care. “In the commonsku community we listen, learn and engage regarding new product and what’s trending, and it’s a direct pipeline to what the end buyers are looking for.”

“The commonsku social platform allows a good social listener to become in-tune with everyone’s communication style. From here we can work the social platform together and conversations weave like a fine-tuned basket-making circle!  We then have the opportunity to take that relationship one step further and participate in the events offered by the commonsku (such as, skucamp, skucon, etc). The events offer individuals the opportunity to solidify the relationships they have made through the platforms. I have been so fortunate to meet a genuine tribe of supportive people during these events! This has really helped us establish another way of doing business together…one that evokes stories, learning, trust and friendship. We are fortunate that along this journey, we are able to then do business together!”

commonsku Tip: Despite the deficiency of email blasts and tradeshows that compete for time in an attention-deficit world, suppliers cling to these tactics out of habit, plus the illusion that they are saving themselves time by reaching many. 

Engaging and listening requires one-to-one care. There is no stronger, surer way to build future business with clients than by listening. Though front-line listening and engagement is often relegated to a personality or two within a supplier’s business, active listening and engagement is not something that can be easily delegated to a certain role simply because of the sheer volume of client opportunities that exist within the distributor community.

Real-time engagement requires all-hands on deck. And with today’s tools (intuitive desktop platform and mobile app), it has never been easier for everyone in your organization to be vested in the business of winning accounts, won-by-one. For an excellent example of incredible collaboration between a supplier and distributor, listen to this brief story shared by Dan Frailey of RuMe BrandSuite:

 

#4 From Handshake to Hug

 

commonsku is like octane to a new prospect or client relationship. You can land deals faster plus build deeper relationships with the customers that matter most.

“The community is unmatched on commonsku,” said Charity Gibson, National Account Coordinator at Peerless. “I attended skucon and met Renya Nelson of Brand Aid, one of the industry’s rising stars and a very successful distributor. We later connected through commonsku’s online platform as well. I was recently in Salt Lake City, working a show, and because of the connection made at the event and then online, I was able to shoot off an email to see if I could visit them while in town. They said ‘Heck yeah, come see us!’ and I stopped in and was able to tour their office and meet the whole team. It’s pretty special when the digital conversation overflows into real life, and suddenly the experience goes from talking to someone from behind a computer screen to walking into their office and being able to see everything they are doing, talk about projects, and make things happen.

“The future of business is happening now on commonsku.”

Charity continued,“Brian Fanzo says social media turns a handshake into a hug. This is even more true with the community on commonsku and the use of the collaboration tool. We can exchange information, get logos, and provide virtuals right in the feed. This method takes things way beyond the ‘have you seen this pen’ type of post. It’s productive, time-saving, and fun! The future of business is happening now on commonsku.”

We asked Charity if collaborating has enhanced engagement with the right types of distributors?

“Oh, 100%,” she replied. “People communicate differently on different platforms … so there are people on facebook, for example … it’s interesting to see how the conversations differ between the two communities; the exact same post can go up on facebook as on commonsku but the level of conversation on commonsku typically ends up going in a completely different direction.”

Charity Gibson is one of the most responsive personalities in the industry. A constant connector and encourager, Charity lands deals, not only for the suppliers she works for but for other suppliers as well. As such, Charity has developed a skill at recognizing opportunity and seizing it when it matters most.

Many suppliers struggle with growing sales with existing distributor clients.

This scenario is repeated frequently: The distributor knows about the supplier, even likes the supplier, but can’t seem to move the needle when it comes to sales.

Often, what’s missing is transparency into distributor projects, a window into seeing actual projects that distributors are working on (as opposed to relying on scant communication between supplier and distributor).

With commonsku, real-time collaboration on live projects has always been a hallmark of the platform. This transparency is the missing ingredient in growing stagnant sales with successful distributors.

Want to learn more about how commonsku can become the octane to your sales growth? Contact us for more information!


Also published on Medium.