Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Carol McGlogan

October 31, 2017

By Carol McGlogan

At Electro-Federation Canada’s (EFC) recent Future Forum, we explored the significant changes in B2B customer behaviour, and the resulting effects on sales and marketing. Our B2B customers are increasingly making online purchases, and for those customers who still deal with a salesperson, their minds are generally made up by the time the sales interaction even occurs. According to CEB/Gartner research, the typical B2B customer is 57% along the purchasing journey before their first interaction with a salesperson.* Forrester research forecasts that approximately one million B2B salespeople (U.S.) will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020, guiding customers through the different stages of the sales process from awareness, to consideration, to purchase.

If your reaction to these facts are: “not in our industry”; “our product is technical”; or “our industry is based on relationships,” you may want to reconsider. Just take a look at these findings:

  • “Not in our industry” — EFC’s “Click and Order” research report focused on customer purchasing patterns in our industry. The 2014 report stated that at that time 11% of our customers were already buying from the Internet… it certainly is a bigger percentage now. We are no different from other B2B industries.
  • “Our product is technical” — Yes, our products are technical, but remember that research tells us our customers are further along the purchasing decision. This means that even for technical products the amount of information available to customers online makes them much more informed about product specs, costs and functionality before the first sales call is made. Salespeople are dealing with customers who have a frame of mind; they are no longer influencing that frame of mind. As a salesperson, you may have to undo opinions that are not aligned with what you are proposing — a much tougher challenge.
  • “Our industry is based on relationships” — Relationships are the icing on the cake. Without a solid digital strategy and platform that allow your customers to discover, compare, and ultimately purchase your products, relationships may be just that without the economic benefit.

As businesses, have you changed to meet this customer shift? Have you mapped this new customer journey and clearly identified the touchpoints that take the customer from one stage to the next? Do your marketing expenditures and strategies reflect this new journey that the marketing department is clearly more responsible for? The interaction between marketing, sales and the customer is different. Have your teams collaborated to create a winning path?

When you add the channel into the mix, it becomes even more complicated. We often talk about collaborating between the manufacturers’ and distributors’ salesforces to ensure that sales are successful. If everything is done online, how do our sites collaborate? Customers want a seamless experience, so we need to collaborate digitally to make that happen.

We have a long way to go in the electrical industry, but the good news is that great examples of digital transformation are all around us. One of the speakers at the EFC Future Forum said that it’s not about benchmarking B2B or B2C, it’s about benchmarking experiences. We are consumers and business people who have great experiences every day. A little creative thinking can inspire you to take those experiences and apply them to your business to win in this exciting new environment.

Carol McGlogan is President & CEO, Electro-Federation Canada.

* https://www.cebglobal.com/blogs/b2b-sales-and-marketing-two-numbers-you-should-care-about/

David Gordon

Over the past few months as we’ve sat in strategy development meetings with distributors, reviewed distributor purchasing information, and talked to manufacturers’ reps and contractors, we’ve seen a purchasing trend that is roiling the industry. The trend, which mirrors what is happening in lighting with “unfamiliar brands,” is accelerated growth and acceptance of less familiar brands for infrastructure type products (electrician supplies, boxes, fittings, etc … consumables and products that go within the wall). This then begs the questions, “What is the value of a manufacturer’s brand,” and “What are the implications for manufacturers and distributors?”

Many have seen this as driven by...

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Study


A confirmation: the winds of change are now howling.

Several years ago, in a workshop at Electro-Federation Canada’s annual conference, a roundtable session described and debated the numerous disruptive technologies that are forcing us to think differently.

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As part a family company, I have heard my father talking about business ever since I was a little boy. Although it had always interested me, I had never thought I would end up working alongside my father and my uncle in the company my grandfather started a long time ago.

I had been working in sales ever since I was 16 years old in many different markets than the one I was about to enter, but I thought it would be relatively easy to handle. Very quickly I started noticing the challenges of being a 22-year-old sales rep for electrical products entering a world where most of the manufacturers’ agents had been in the business for a long time.

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Changing Scene

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Flextherm Celebrates 25 Years With a Big Bang PHOTO: EIN-37/CEW-18-CS-Flextherm-400.jpg The floor ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s 6th Annual Future Forum, Thinking Smarter — Channel Products, Energy, ...
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Québec, Convectair is donating two heating units ...
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Kendra Smith will be joining the company’s Nationals Accounts team as the Key Accounts ...
Blueway has been added as a division within Sonepar Ontario, reporting directly to Sonepar Ontario ...
Pilz Canada has added Marcus Graham to its family. Marcus is now serving a wide base of customers ...
Christopher Balleine has been appointed Stelpro’s Sales Representative, Maritimes, ...
Based in Ottawa, Lafontaine will be responsible for building on Schneider Electric’s ...
Bill Smith from Electrozad Supply Company Limited has been selected as this year’s recipient ...

Peers & Profiles

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Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the ...
  Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & ...
Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished ...
Gordon MacDonald is a cheerful, driven individual who loves to be challenged, a trait that suits ...
  Jordan Prins is an account manager at Wesco Distribution in Abbotsford, British Columbia. ...
Mike Marsh, President and CEO of SaskPower, has been a leading figure in Saskatchewan’s electricity ...
I didn’t wake up one day and go, “I want to work for my dad!” Actually, it was ...
    Ouellet Canada is celebrating 50 years in the Electrical Heating ...
  On February 27th Lumen opened their 36th branch in Ottawa, Ontario. ...

Laura Dempsey

Owen Hurst

Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for over 15 years, and is a member of the BCEA U40 network of young professionals. She lives in Langley, BC and is proud of her position and work with E.B. Horsman, particularly as she is the second Dempsey generation to work for the company.

Laura’s mother Shelly has worked at E.B. Horsman for over 25 years, and instilled in Laura a determination to succeed. Laura followed in her mother’s footsteps after witnessing how much her mother enjoyed her work and the people she works with at E.B. Horsman.

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Laura Dempsey

Line Goyette

I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the newsletter’s Editorial Board. His contribution was regular and sustained. Always present to answer my technical questions, and refer me to the right person for additional information as needed. Always available despite his role as senior leader of an influential company.

Over the past five years, many industry insiders have cited John Sencich when I asked them to name someone who had made a difference in their lives or had inspired them as a leader.

Read more: John Sencich

Looking Back

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  As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a look back at an aspect of ...
The resource-based industries of the Maritimes are looking to electronics to make their operations ...
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Electrical distribution companies operating in British Columbia will continue to get larger while ...
Golden anniversaries are celebrated by the mature, and our industry is allowed to celebrate ...
The last 50 years have been exciting ones for the electrical industry but they won’t compare to ...
The ceiling that had been placed on membership fees remained a point of contention among ...
The year 1982 started on a relatively good note for electrical distributors. Sales in the first ...

 

Online

Building a simple customer experience that satisfies your customers’ expectations is a starting point (or evolution) in your digital journey. You might be asking yourself, “How do I know what my customer wants?” The data are available from their behaviour online, and many of your customers will tell you what they want. Putting the pieces together can appear complex, but it can be simplified if you segment the optimization of your customers’ experience into three buckets: design, usability and search.

Design, usability, and search pertain to how you can serve your customer. In order for your website to create value in the eyes of the customers, you have to optimize your website so that it is accessible to the greatest number of your ideal customers. Value increases with the number of customer touchpoints that the customers use.

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EFC 2018 Scholarship Program

This year Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) will award $156,250 across 62 scholarships supported by manufacturers, distributors and associations.

The annual EFC Scholarship Program reflects an industry that understands its responsibility to attract future talent. In the face of technological, demographic, and socio-economic evolution, the employment landscape is in constant transformation resulting in substantial challenges for companies as they work to define and redefine their recruitment practices. Furthermore, as competition for the brightest and the best of the next generation of business leaders intensifies, it’s more important than ever to engage young people. 

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