Posted September 19, 2023

Four ways intelligent automation can impact sales revenue for wholesale distributors

In light of the imminent retirement of many within the distribution space, along with challenges in recruiting and retention, distributors must find ways to maximize the productivity of their personnel. The future of the wholesale distribution industry includes automation.

AI genie bottle imageThe technology simplifies certain tedious processes, reducing the amount of time and energy it takes for a representative to make a sale. Automation allows employees to prioritize the customer all while delivering a positive experience.

The following are ways intelligent automation can take your business to the next level:??

1) Streamline order processing to respond to customer quotes quicker.

Intelligent automation simplifies the sales process by using machine learning for faster search functions, in real-time. The technology can be installed into distributors’ existing ERP systems and connect to a web platform to provide an even more efficient sales experience.

For distributors, material lookups can present a challenge when trying to put together a quote for a customer. At times, an order can be hundreds of lines long with wording that is not always an exact match with what is in a distributor’s system. Consequently, a customer service representative will have to painstakingly enter each item manually, leaving room for error. Machine learning offers possible matches to choose from and gains more knowledge into a distributor’s catalog as it is used. As a result, material search is no longer a time-consuming activity for a customer sales representative (CSR). All this can help return a quote faster, giving distributors a higher chance of winning a customer bid.

2) Increase scalability and flexibility.

By harnessing the power of both Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Excel tagging/learning, distributors can convert scanned or image-based documents into machine-readable text that greatly improves document processing efficiency. If a customer sends information as a PDF or an Excel file, companies using this technology can quickly turn that data into an order or a quote within their CRM or ERP system, thereby enabling faster decision-making, improved customer response times, and overall process efficiency.
Manual data entry is no longer needed. Customers can send order documents day or night and these can automatically be entered into an organization’s system. Depending on how well the incoming data is interpreted, this process is extremely fast and efficient. This type of technology learns over time and will only get better with use. Document automation saves a distributor time, reduces the likelihood of human error, and helps organizations scale documents as it grows without a demand for an increased workforce.

3) Maintain customer relationships as manual data entry tasks are now automated.

With manual tasks and data entry, particularly ones that are not digitized, comes with more room for error. The possibility of missing a customer follow up and losing a sale as a result increases when customer information is inputted manually. Automation helps customer service reps stay on top of sales visits, helping to better manage and accelerate these relationships.

4) Improves the employee experience and retention rates.

Sales representatives want to focus on the customer, not on the sales system. When the sales process is overly complicated to the point where making a sale becomes difficult, organizations risk losing those valuable employees. Document automation not only expedites the sales process by automating manual tasks, but it also cuts down on the training process getting new hires selling in the field as quick as possible. A simpler, more streamlined process makes things easy for all employees. Both the distributor and rep want to sell more. Don’t let a lack of technology stand in the way.

Convinced? The process of automation is often not as difficult as distributors may think. The key is to choose software that can be seamlessly implemented into existing systems. Automation is an investment, but a worthwhile one that can help better serve both customers and employees.

Leah Cohen

Leah Cohen is a marketing intern with DataXstream and has written numerous articles for the company and hosts the company’s ‘Industry Insights’ series on LinkedIn. With a focus on English and journalism, Leah currently is a student-athlete at Georgetown University.