legacy planning with BI and CRM is possible with comprehensive and modern distributor sales technology

Legacy Planning With BI and CRM for Family-Owned Distributors

From heightened competition with larger corporations and online retailers to escalating operational costs to rapid technological advancements in supply chain management, family-owned distributors are up against numerous challenges. There is a general perception that smaller distributors need to catch up with the times concerning distributor sales technology, either due to limited resources or traditional ways of doing business. We understand the thought that it can be difficult to preserve the familial ethos and community legacy in the face of evolving customer and vendor demands. 

Nevertheless, family-owned distributors have a distinct advantage over their large corporate competitors, from their deep community relationships to more personalized approaches to customer service. Distributors can leverage these advantages by first identifying the limitations to their existing systems.

For example, if your legacy sales reps own and manage customer relationships, those contacts may leave with them when their time to move on comes. This leaves a business with little to no visibility into key insights associated with customer activity and sales rep performance.

Distributor sales technology can future-proof your distribution business by optimizing revenue opportunities that will put your company in better position for sustained growth and on the path toward a stronger legacy.

It’s Time To Embrace Distributor Sales Technology

Most family-owned distributors still operate with traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but these platforms only offer limited visibility into real-time data and analytics. As the revenue share of online sales grows, an ERP’s limited visibility is insufficient for understanding customer behavior, meeting their expectations, and growing business revenue. 

However, integrating an ERP with distributor sales technology like business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems allows family-owned distributors to harness comprehensive data insights, enhance customer interactions, and plan for the next generation of leadership.

Leveraging BI for Competitive Advantage in Distribution 

Your business generates large amounts of data, but do you have the tools to analyze that data and make informed decisions based on it? Your ERP brings together several business operations into one platform, but a BI system is able to evaluate that wealth of ERP data to surface actionable insights for more precise, efficient decision-making. 

With BI dashboards, your team can spot customer behavior trends at a glance (e.g., purchases by product line, region, frequency, volume, etc.) and proactively recommend relevant products, services, or promotions. With BI’s actionable insights for distributors, they can also catch and quickly respond to fluctuations in demand to reduce potential stockouts or accelerate sales on slow-moving products with timely marketing campaigns. Leveraging BI for competitive advantage in distribution will be a game-changer for family-owned businesses. 

Need a real-world example? Mar-Hy Distributors, a family-owned company based in Milwaukie, OR, integrated Epicor P21 with White Cup BI to gain greater visibility into their overall business. 

In particular, White Cup BI’s Executive Dashboard and Sales Manager Dashboard deliver valuable insights at a glance to Mar-Hy reps, allowing them to identify negative trends and performance indicators months faster and intervene with personalized customer outreach. Insights like top customers and top declining customers give the Mar-Hy team new visibility that was previously impossible to uncover in their ERP.

“It’s been easier to immediately notice a trend a month or two ahead of time because White Cup is looking at many more data points and displaying it in a way that shows trends,” Eric Schmidt, Mar-Hy’s VP of Operations, said. “There is nothing in P21 that gives you that really quick snapshot outside of the monthly sales report.” 

Cultivating Stronger Customer Relationships and Enhancing Distributor Operations With CRM

While many ERPs include modules or offer add-ons for CRM platforms, they primarily focus on integrating and streamlining operations. A dedicated CRM system that integrates with ERP and BI systems gives family-owned distributors more tools to personalize customer engagement, improve sales strategies, and manage data. 

In short: implementing CRM in distribution allows you to preserve that personalized approach that differentiates your family-owned distribution business and has for years — all while optimizing revenue opportunities with the agility of larger players in the distributor space.

There are many traditional CRM software and tools on the market, but not all are designed for distributors, which often incur additional costs to customize. Distributors need to select the right tools specifically designed to manage the nuances of a wholesale distribution business. Improving sales performance with CRM is possible without breaking your budget or extending your resources by selecting a solution specifically designed for distribution.


Unifying BI, CRM, and ERP for Family-Owned Distribution Growth

Family-owned distributors who rely solely on an ERP to manage their business are missing out on valuable insights to drive their decision-making. While some may be concerned that integrating more digital tools into their workflows could be too costly or too complex for their teams to use, we’ve found that the opposite is true: Smaller, family-owned distributors need to embrace innovation if they want to survive. 

In an increasingly digital world, business intelligence and customer relationship tools are key to satisfying customer expectations, competing with larger companies, and preserving your legacy for future generations. Avoiding new tools poses real business risks: outdated and ineffective marketing strategies, customer churn, and cost clutter from ill-suited add-ons that need to be tailored for distribution.

If your business is falling short of sales targets, if you’re struggling with customer retention, or if your team is lacking visibility into customer behavior, it’s time to ask: Are your current systems sufficient for managing your business and setting it up for future growth?

Integrating your ERP with CRM and BI systems can give you the 360-degree view of your business that you seek. This kind of integration can release data from silos and facilitate information sharing across teams to drive revenue.

Integrating these systems can be seamless; many ERPs offer flexible APIs to bridge systems that enable the secure flow of customer data. Conducting thorough compatibility tests, evaluating vendor support for integration, and seeking recommendations from industry peers or consultants help ensure you’re selecting BI and CRM software that best aligns with your current ERP architecture. 

Empowering Your Team Through Technology Training

It’s no secret that getting your sales team on board with a new system can be challenging. After all, they’ve been closing sales and managing customer relationships without it for years, maybe even decades. However, adopting new distributor sales technology is crucial to your business’ success and long-term legacy. Involving your sales reps early on is key to securing buy-in and a willingness to learn. They will also be more likely to embrace new tools when they better understand the benefits these platforms provide: Newfound visibility, more realistic goal-setting, engaging customer conversations, and more responsive sales processes that allow them to hit targets faster and draw more commissions. 

How To Leave a Better Legacy as a Family-Owned Distributor

Integrating BI with existing ERP systems equips your team with a single source of truth and creates a powerful new synergy between sales, customer service, operations, and marketing to close sales and sustain customer relationships. Enhancing distributor operations with CRM solutions that include built-in BI makes it even easier to gain a competitive edge.

When family-owned distributors align data, analytics, and workflows, they transform their businesses and better secure a profitable future. By charting the path forward with technology early on, savvy family distribution businesses will leave a legacy. 

Discover how White Cup’s suite integrates BI, CRM, and eCommerce with ERPs to help family-owned distributors win more revenue and future-proof their business. Schedule a consultation today.

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