5 Wholesale Sales Pitfalls You May Be Ignoring

Mandy Movahhed
March 12, 2015

For anyone running a wholesale product business, time is money and efficiency is king.  Many wholesalers, however, still struggle with productivity and customer service challenges that stem from old-fashioned paper-based systems. When was the last time you took a good look at your wholesale sales process? Let’s go through each basic step of that process and detail some of the problems and inefficiencies that trip up so many businesses. Are you falling victim to these pitfalls?

Wholesale Sales Pitfalls: Do Any of These Sound Familiar?

1. Preparing for Sales Appointments: A Lack of Information

Sales representatives can’t easily access customers’ transaction histories and inventory levels, especially from the road, and they’re unable to provide the insight that might help them tailor – and possibly boost – future orders. Without access to inventory data, they may sell items that are out of stock or on back-order.

2. Presenting Information to Customers: A Cumbersome Process

The printed product catalogs and physical samples that sales representatives must carry with them can get unwieldy and look unprofessional. And because printed catalog data is not frequently updated, reps often present outdated product information. Additionally, the cost of shipping samples and catalogs cuts into wholesalers’ bottom lines.

3. Taking Orders: Sales Lost Due to Inefficiency

The slow pace of manual order-taking systems prevents sales representatives from seeing as many customers as they otherwise could. Trade show prospects, for instance, are unlikely to wait while a rep hand-writes multiple orders. By the same token, road reps are forced to limit the number of sales appointments they can fit in a day.

4. Transmitting Orders: Delays and Cancellations

Even once customers commit to an order, there’s often a lag before the sales rep can place it. That extends the process and, over time, means fewer orders placed – and can even give a customer time to have second thoughts and cancel the order before it has been confirmed. Whether they’re placing orders manually, using risky workarounds like Excel templates or email, or accessing a rudimentary database that wasn’t designed for efficient order entry, the threat of mistakes is high.

5. Processing and Fulfilling Orders: Errors and Unhappy Customers

When customer service employees enter orders that were placed manually, they often must decipher the salesperson’s handwritten notes. When they’re wrong, that leads to fulfillment errors and mis-shipments. On the other hand, taking time to double-check details holds up orders. In either case, customers are disappointed, and tracking down information or correcting mistakes diverts resources from more valuable functions. Ultimately, it’s nearly impossible to provide retailers with a superior experience using a manual system. In a sales environment where there are digital tools to virtually eliminate all the problems on this list, it not only seems crazy to still be dealing with these kinds of obstacles at each step in the sales and fulfillment process, it’s also completely unnecessary. Questions or comments on anything we’ve covered here? Let us know in the comments below.