Hockey season is over and it has me thinking about he impact of power plays in business. The relation- ship between manufacturers and distributors is
a bond often overlooked. In both business and hockey,
having an extra “player on the ice” can make a huge difference, but if not executed well, can be a missed opportunity to score.
As with hockey, training is everything in customer relations. Team members (distributors) are on the front lines
of the customer experience and everyone’s bottom line;
however, they often aren’t given full access to a company’s
playbook. For good reason, manufacturers want and need
to keep company secrets closely guarded. But in doing so,
distributors can be left with gaps in information.
Keep Distributors In The Know
Manufacturers need to start considering their distribution
team as part of their sales team. For example, what materials, FAQs or training is provided? The closer the distributor is to the sales team, the easier it is for everyone to win.
Not only can the sales team teach a lot to the distributor, but the reverse is also true. Distributors are a great
way for the sales team to learn what potential and current
customers are saying about the company and products.
Information around why purchasing decisions were made
can help improve the distributor’s sales knowledge and
the manufacturer’s ultimate success.
Equip With Customer Motivations
To further understand purchase drivers, Klein Tools
recently launched a ‘State of the Industry’ survey asking
union and non-union, experienced and apprenticed electricians why they buy tools. It found that replacement is
the most common driver of new tool purchases, as well as:
• More than one in three electricians (35%) indicate
the primary reason for buying new tools is a tool is no
longer usable or it is worn out, and two-thirds (65%)
indicate this is a reason overall.
• Non-union members are more likely to replace tools
based on need, while union members more heavily
rely on word of mouth to guide their decision making
about purchasing new tools.
Get In The Buyer’s Mindset
The survey also found that recommendations within the
union community go a long way. Union members (28%)
are significantly more likely than non-members (13%)
to purchase tools because of a
recommendation from a friend
or colleague. This is important
information for distributors to
consider when they are discussing
new products. It’s easy to tell if a
customer is experienced or new,
but do they know if a customer
is union or non-union, or if they are adjusting their sales
It’s also beneficial for distributors to know what features electricians are looking for in the tools they select.
• Six in seven electricians find durability (87%) and a
high level of performance (87%) to be very important
or important when purchasing a specific tool.
• Five in six electricians find safety (83%) to be very important or important when purchasing a specific tool.
• Four in five electricians find efficiency (81%), being trustworthy (81%), and being a good value for
the money (80%) to be very important or important
when purchasing a specific tool.
It’s crucial for distributors to know and explain why products are priced the way they are and what accounts for the
differences. Is it the quality of materials, unique design,
• Nearly three in five electricians (57%) would not purchase a specific tool if it were too expensive.
• Non-union electricians (64%) are significantly more
likely than union members (48%) to not purchase a
tool for this reason.
• Nearly one-half of electricians (48%) would not purchase a specific tool if it has a poor warranty.
Finally, distributors should factor in qualities around
ease of use. The Klein survey found that one-third of electricians (34%) would not purchase a specific tool if it were
too heavy. Non-union electricians (40%) are significantly
more likely than union members (25%) to not purchase a
tool for this reason.
Distributors play a crucial role in the success of a company. In order to be successful, manufacturers need to
invest in training this team just like they do internal sales
teams and other employees. The more distributors are
made to feel part of a specific brand, the more customers will understand the attributes of that manufacturer’s
products–making it a “W” for the entire team.
Winning Big Means Integrating the Whole Team
BY MARK KLEIN, PRESIDENT, KLEIN TOOLS