I recently attended the Dimensional Insight Users Conference in Boston, where many of the company’s clients presented case studies showing how they’re using its applications, including Diver and Program Advisor. There were about a dozen beverage wholesalers in attendance, including Jessica Cyr, the Director of Sales Operations and Marketing at Massachusetts-based Martignetti Companies.
She was a speaker at the event, sharing her experience as a “mobilizer and strategist” within the company when it comes to implementing new technology. Martignetti has a team of 500 salespeople, most of whom use Program Advisor to track their incentives, and the company recently opened a 1.2 million square foot warehouse, with room for expansion.
Cyr credits the program’s ability to generate reports with allowing her to both coach team members to be better, as well as holding them accountable for execution. Martignetti expects its sales staff to check the progress of their incentive programs a minimum of two times per week, and she says they should view new technology as a way to execute, hit goals and make more money.
I also spoke to Cyr after her presentation to find out more about the challenges and opportunities associated with technological advances in the wholesaling industry.
Beverage Wholesaler: What’s the biggest challenge for distributors when it comes to data?
Jessica Cyr: We are certainly challenged at times as the middle tier of the three-tier system, but anytime we can create an advantage through new technology, it’s a win. We’re giving our sales force access to information, and we’re consistently looking for new innovations, apps, inventory management systems and the like. We’ve even reached out to Drizly and Sevenfifty and other companies like them because we want to be part of the process.
BW: How important is systems integration when you look at implementing new technology, like Dimensional Insight’s Program Advisor?
JC: It’s a big challenge, which is one reason I started the “train the trainer” program I mentioned in my presentation (where high-level team members are chosen as leaders of their team to receive information and filter it down to their colleagues). We don’t have a training department, so I’ve mobilized them to make sure the communication I’m learning from Program Advisor is getting down to the sales reps. I’ve also had great success working closely with our sales analysts and admin team, who are at the heart of Program Advisor’s input and data integrity. The dedication of both groups has made this initiative a true cultural shift accompanied by Senior-level buy in that’s imperative in any new corporate initiative.
BW: When you talk about getting buy-in from the decision makers at the company, how do you tie a new tool to increased sales or profit? How do you prove the return on investment?
JC: Program Advisor gives us the analytics and reporting to show whether the ROI is there for the incentive programs we’re running, which is the greatest benefit. We want our sales reps doing the hard leg work out on the streets, not worrying about how to manage their incentives, so this is a great way to simplify things for them.
BW: What advice would you give to other wholesalers looking at implementing a new technology, based on what you’ve learned over the past few years?
JC: I would highly recommend small-group training, and setting a vision early. Your users need to have one-on-one training, then check-ups, then more training, then another check-up. It’s important to assess on a regular basis whether things are progressing as you thought they would.
One of the quotes I’ve added to my email signature is, “the pain of the same is more than the pain of change.” If you continue to do things the same, it’s just going to get more difficult. Everyone else is changing – the world is moving.