- Utilizes branded “AD Knowledge@Noon” hosted webcasts to allow manufacturers to present products to their distributor members.
- 78% of distributor members attend Knowledge@Noon.
- Over 4,500 sales people have taken part.
- Manufacturers launch products in one presentation instead of over three to six months of travel.
- Distributors get real time access to manufacturers to learn about how to sell products.
Association Profile: Association of Independent Distributors
Affiliated Distributors (AD) is the largest wholesale buying and marketing group in North America, comprised of over 530 independent distributor companies with over 3,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Membership commands over $27 Billion in sales across six industries: electrical supplies; industrial supplies; plumbing supplies; HVAC equipment and supplies; drywall and drywall related products; and pipe, valves and fittings. AD acts as the connecting point between product suppliers and distributors. To strengthen both groups, they seek better techniques to move products to market. “AD is all about helping independent distributors and their supplier partners thrive and grow. Unless both suppliers and distributors are thriving, we are not adding value,” said Stuart Mechlin, Senior VP of AD Industrial Supply Division.
Challenge: Accelerate New Product Launches While Reducing the Cost of Training
In the past, a manufacturer would take three to six months to introduce a new product to distributors. It would require thousands of miles of travel to visit their territory, meeting face-to-face with as many sales people as possible. This traditional approach took a long time and did not always produce the right messaging and enthusiasm in the sales channel.
Solution: Manufacturers Train Hundreds of Distributor Sales People Nationwide, at One Time, Without Travel
Using the BlueVolt platform, suppliers host live educational webcasts that include a live video of the product representative, a slide presentation, and the ability to ask questions in real time. "We have found that what our members really want is actual training. If they wanted to read a catalog or product spec sheet they could do that by themselves. They want a product expert on the line," said Kim Wanamaker, AD Director of Marketing. If employees can not make the scheduled Knowledge@Noon, they can view an archived version at anytime. Said one manufacturer who has been featured in Knowledge@ Noon, I have done ‘webcasts’ that don’t utilize the live image and I think the live image is better. I do think that the BlueVolt format for training is better than a simple webcast or conference call. You can ask questions. That interactivity is crucial. Knowledge@Noon utilizes $BlueBucks, BlueVolt’s unique incentive program, to further increase participation. $BlueBucks are redeemed for gift cards to hundreds of different restaurants, retailers, and service providers. Suppliers appreciate the additional motivation for distributors to attend. We use $BlueBucks to get people interested in the training, and it is working. We get a lot of positive feedback., said Pete Comber of supplier Omni Cable and Electrical.
Result: A Direct Increase in Sales
Knowledge@Noon, a program created just for AD, gives suppliers and distributors exactly what they want: faster and more effective product launches with a new culture of training. Over 4,500 sales people have participated in Knowledge@Noon. For some presentations, suppliers have been able to reach over 400 people live at one time. Both manufacturers and suppliers have reported direct increases in sales of product lines featured in Knowledge@ Noon presentations. Mechlin is very pleased with the program. Both large and small suppliers have embraced it. The distributors have also embraced it. "We just see online training is the way to go. With great programs like BlueVolt it can be easy to see the benefit", said Comber. Joe Llewellyn of AD distributor member Mayer Electrical agrees. "I believe that having online training gives Mayer one more tool that more and more of our associates are comfortable with and that is efficient, affordable, and repeatable for us as well as our suppliers". Kim Wanamaker of AD is convinced that the BlueVolt-powered Knowledge@Noon program is an important competitive advantage for AD, their suppliers, and their distributors. "Coming up with this unique approach to training has really given us a competitive edge. We are the leading group in the industry and I think when you do things like this you really just confirm and reestablish yourself as cutting edge and a leader", said Wanamaker. "We like the fact that the training keeps coming: this is not a one shot deal", said Llewellyn.
"We like the fact that the training keeps coming: this is not a one shot deal. The steady flow of fresh, live training opportunities has helped us to develop the Knowledge@Noon program into a routine process for our associates"