Becoming a digital distributor

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Updated Oct 21, 2015

Mark Dancer says technology is not a strategy.

Technology can help execute strategy, it can help turn strategy into reality, but simply turning to technology itself to solve problems is an easy way for a distributor to run into problems, Dancer said during a presentation Tuesday at the VIPAR Heavy Duty Annual Business Conference in San Antonio.

Providing guidance to a room full of distributors on how add digital tools into their businesses, Dancer spoke adamantly about the misconception commonly found in wholesale distribution about technology. Dancer says too often distributors view technology as a magic bullet, an ‘easy’ button that will transform their operation and create an explosion of sales growth.

Dancer says the truth is nearly the opposite.

Adding technology into a distribution operation without a plan for how to use it can be incredibly damaging. To avoid getting caught in a tech overload, Dancer advises distributors to build a “laser-sharp” strategy for how they want to improve their business before even considering the tech options available to help achieve those goals.

“What are your business objectives? What are your goals for growth, and where will growth come from?” he says.

Only once you’ve answered those questions is it even worth looking at digital tools.

And even then, Dancer says it is important to carefully select the tool that best fits your plan, your employees and your customer base.

Tasking your marketing team to operate a Twitter page your customers will never read isn’t a good use of their time, but asking them to study video might be. Especially if you have customers that perform their own service and could benefit from instructional and training videos.

The same can be said for customer relationship management (CRM) tools, Dancer says.

CRM will only transform your business if you first decide exactly how it can help you. It isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution.

Says Dancer: “When a distributor thinks of innovation they think of ways to better run their business.” Technology and digital tools should supplement that innovation, they shouldn’t replace it.

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