Big Mistake... HUGE!

Dear Colleagues,

Remember Julia Roberts's line in Pretty Woman when she breezed into the Rodeo Drive clothing store that had rejected her the day before, waving her bags of expensive, newly purchased items at the saleswomen and looking like a million bucks?

"You work on commission, right? Big mistake... HUGE!"

Well, if you missed our e-Quantum 2011 International Client Conference in San Antonio and the opportunity to learn and network with 260 of your leading Industry peers, all I can say is, "You work on commission, right?"

Attendees were unanimous in their comments regarding the conference:

• "This was the best conference yet, and the e-Quantum Conferences are by far the best in the industry!"

• "My thanks to your entire e-Quantum team and "kudos" to you for another really good conference. As usual, it was first class from start to finish."

• "I love the Q-Net enhancements. By far the most important enhancement is the Vendor Catalogs Module. This can be a game changer."

• "I just wanted to let you know what a great job that you did putting the 2011 Conference together. Being a four-year sponsor, I would say that this conference was by far the most well thought out and productive conference."

So, thank you, and we are pleased to give an e-Quantum "tip-of-the-sombrero" to all who attended. San Antonio was a world class venue and the conference was indeed our "best and largest yet." Stay tuned for future e-Quantum conferences.

But, while we're on the subject of Big, no... HUGE mistakes:

Let's discuss how too many print distributors fail to maximize the full potential of their e-commerce and vendor interoperability technology.

Let me start this conversation with a true statement, "The fastest growing e-Quantum distributors employ e-commerce and electronic vendor interoperability as primary resources to acquire major new clients."

Now, let me relate some interesting statements made by executives of national print manufacturers in response to my question. "How can e-Quantum help increase the number of electronic PO's sent by our mutual clients?"

After all, electronic quotes, orders and invoices increase profitability, productivity, AND offer online transparency to the end user. Talk about a NO BRAINER!

But, listen!

Manufacturer: "Ross, the real issue we've found is the reluctance of most distributors to exercise control over the placement of client orders by their salesmen and CSR's. They're afraid to upset their sales reps or staff by dictating which vendors to use or insisting on electronic order entry. And generally, there is no incentive for the sales reps or CSR's to change their past habits of doing business the way, and with whom, they are most comfortable."

So, the distributor would rather forego profits, productivity and client satisfaction? Makes sense to me. Don't rock the boat.

Manufacturer: "Ross, you're thinking like a systems analyst. A large number of distributors don't have that mindset. They steer away from e-commerce because they're afraid that if they organize their client items into electronic catalogs, it will just make it easier for clients to bid them out."

Well, selling from fear - avoiding technology - has never been my strategy for account retention, but to each his own.

Then, there are distributor stories:

Distributor: "Ross, it was so irritating. Our salesman had owned this major account for years, and the other day he came and told me they switched all their business to another distributor because "they had an online order system." I told him, ‘Well go back and tell them you can offer an online order system, too.' But, the major client just said we should have made them aware of our e-commerce services sooner."

And, e-Quantum stories:

Finance Director: "Ross, one of our clients cancelled their Q-Net support because they only had one major client on Q-Net and they lost the client. I suggested they should find other major clients to put on Q-Net, but they said they didn't have time."

Well, what can I say? I'll bet they have more time NOW! But, we'll leave the article on sales training and projection of effort for another day.

But, on the positive side, San Antonio was full of "my kind of distributors."

Distributor: "We've really been using Q-Net to expand sales. For example, we had a nice print client that bought about $7,000 from us year after year. We put them on Q-Net and now they are also buying $12,000 A MONTH in office products. We're creating a major sales program to take this to all our medium and large clients."

My personal San Antonio favorite, the 'fighting words' I overheard one evening at dinner.

Distributor: "I've always hated the words, ‘We can do that, too.' How many companies besides AVIS ever bragged about being #2? How many clients have we ever won waiting for a competitor to be the first to suggest more efficient, cost-saving technology solutions? We LOVE clients who demand their vendors work longer, harder and smarter on their behalf – because WE LOSE 95% OF OUR COMPETITION RIGHT THERE!" Right on!

Now, that's my kind of spirit. Settling for less is a big, no HUGE mistake.

You say you want a technology partner with that kind of spirit? No problem. We'll leave the light on for you.


Ross Barker

800-328-7804 |