Training Distributor Sales Representative (DSR)

Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
Training Distributor Sales Representative (DSR)
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    Training of Distributor Sales Representative (DSR)

    When I was studying in school (that’s long long back…. NO..I am not OLD…Like every other thing in the world grows.…My age is also growing…๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚, salesman was the word generally used for sales team. Somehow, in maximum of cases, they didn’t carry a pretty picture, they were thought to be carrying a bag & roaming from door-to-door…. street-to-street, in hot blazing sun…. Every time they tried to convince a customer, they were thought to PUSH….as if they were trying to sale @ any cost. Since then, sales as a function have evolved in leaps & bound…. with the modern sales guys representing a smart & dynamic group, ready to explore, experiment & win…. it’s no longer push-sales …. rather it’s solution sales/@least moving to solution sales… ๐Ÿ˜œ But if somebody is to identify one group who still carry that baggage (@least to some extent) of the earlier sales-man image…. which group is that…? YES…. you got it write…. It’s the Distributor Sales Representative (DSR)/Distributor Sales Associate (DSA).
    The interesting part is that, in industries where DSR/DSA exists…. they generally contribute to more than 80% of the overall number of sales persons in the that industry ๐Ÿ˜ณ & is responsible for 100% of the Distributor sales. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ…& in many cases…collection also… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


    All this means, the team who actually do the large part of channel sales & many times corresponding collection (i.e. DSR/DSA)….is the one who has the least amount of sales skill…..and a not-so-good image (the image of my school days sales-man)..๐Ÿ˜ณ!!....wait a sec….what are you saying…..is it so?? YES..IT IS SO…..doesn’t the company/distributor know about it……YES THEY KNOW….why don’t they do something about it……YES THEY DO….!!.......THEY TRAIN DSR/DSA….๐Ÿ˜…..@least I hope everybody is very clear & in the same page with me….


    Wait a sec….whose responsibility is it….who is accountable for the training of DSR/DSA…..???๐Ÿ˜ง….ask the company …they will say both the company & the distributor…..but in closed doors of the company the discussion is something different…..well its our job…but first responsibility is of the distributor…..else why is the distributor required..๐Ÿ˜‰…..now go & ask the distributor….he will most probably say….I do train those people….for comprehensive training company should pay..๐Ÿ˜œ….ohhhhh….I missed one big reason …..DSR/DSA quickly switch jobs…so you train them…&…post that they leave with the training to a higher paid job…..so solution is …have training but limited training.. ๐Ÿ˜‡…output….we have a group of DSR/DSA…..who are not well trained….so they don’t meet their sales target….worst….they don’t move to other job…because they don’t get it…..so they stay….net net result….a group of FRONTLINE SALES person…who are there with you & they can’t meet their sales target…cheers…๐Ÿ˜


    Let me add the nail to the coffin..๐Ÿ˜ณ…majority of the cases the DSR has to do dual reporting……NO….not matrix reporting structure (in matrix one never reports to 2 different person for the same function….but there is generally a clear cut earmarked reporting line….say for ex: I may report functionally to somebody & business-wise to somebody else in matrix structure). The DSR generally takes direction from both the distributor & the company sales rep…. like company sales rep. saying “SALES – SALES – SALES…..” & distributor saying “COLLECTION – COLLECTION – COLLECTION …” ๐Ÿ˜ƒ…In maximum of the cases direction comes from both Distributor & the company sales representative on the same topic…say for sales, retailers, campaign etc. etc…which in maximum cases is different… ๐Ÿ˜ต…. &…. manage/@lest try to manage both the egos...!!  ๐Ÿ˜„


    Over the years, there is @least one common thread across all successful sales stories in distribution-based businesses…. the company sales person/Distributor has got a motivated, trained & efficient set of DSR/DSA…. it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have sustainable growth without the DSR/DSA being the real torch-bearer…just impossible...!!
    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
    It’s IMPOSSIBLE to have sustainable growth without the DSR/DSA being the real torch-bearer…just impossible...

    As a solution to all discussed, DSR/DSA training in current situation across majority of the companies/distributors in Sales & Collection Training and Product Training…. cheers...!!๐Ÿ˜Š

    TRAINING of (DSR/DSA) …is much more than regular training…given their current situation & where they should be....as per the high stakes on them…!!.... else entire channel will suffer…. right from company to distributor….to retailer…&…. finally, the consumer…. YES…the consumer also...!!


    Just one point to note here…. this article will also find use for the third party (off-role) employees whose role involves the following (may be a mix of the enlisted also):
    • Sales to retailers
    • Market/on-ground activations
    • Collection from retailers


    Now, we are here to discuss DSR/DSA Training….I have a proposal….let’s take a reverse approach....let’s see who is a Distributor Sales Representative…what he does….&….accordingly come up with his training plan….what say…๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ‘…then obviously one of the core objective of any training --- “improve efficiency & effectiveness”….will be taken care ๐Ÿ˜Š…&…also “enhancement of role” if any can also be addressed…!!


    So we are here to generate a training module for the DSR……ok…so let’s start the way a training module is generally made…๐Ÿ˜ƒ….so we need to profile him first (in terms of him as a person as well as his job role)…&…then explore the probable areas of training..๐Ÿ˜ƒ


    Let…. set…go….!! 


    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR


    Who is a Distributor Sales Representative (DSR)/Distributor Sales Associate (DSA)?

    Distributor Sales Representative/Associate is sales person of the distributor (Read: https://www.ayan-biswas.com/2019/09/distributor-training.html)on the payrolls of the distributorship/third-party (the compensation may be shared with the company or completely borne by the distributor/company). Apart from sales, his role may also include collection from the retailers/campaign @ retailers

    Profile of DSR/DSA

    • They are not highly qualified… (the range generally varies from 10th fail to graduate)
    • They are the localities…
    • They aspire to be in the company rolls... a part of the company sales team...
    • The experience in sales varies as much as from (2-25) years.
    • Salary range varies from INR 5000/month in tier3 cities/rural…lower experience ...to INR 50000/month for metro city... with higher years of experience.
    • Their daily allowance varies from INR (50-250) based on the city they operate in.
    • For a large majority of them, the mode of transport is 2-wheeler (mainly bikes and bi-cycles), although few travels by public transport & a handful have cars...
    • They sent their child to school & desire that someday they will work with established company in senior positions
    • Maximum of their spouse in home maker
    • They generally work 6 days/week with Sunday being a holiday
    • They are the frontline sales/collection guys for the retailer and/or activation guys in the market
    • Majority of them carry smart phone…. many have television, fridge in their house…with few affording air conditioners also
    • Majority of them frequently switch jobs, mainly moving to allied industry distributors & sometimes within the same industry to competition brand distributors, primarily within the same city,
    • Most Important…They know the Retailer, shop boys…i.e. their market…. the best…

    How does a typical day of those guys look like…? (the description may vary in some cases based on the industry type & the geographical area the DSR needs to cover, but broadly it addresses the major

    • Arrive @ office (distributorship) between (8-930) am
    • Take the data (sales & collection of the customers in his beat for that day) from accounts
    • Attend the morning meeting
    • Move into the market as per the sales beat (sales beat is the route the DSR follows in which he meets customers, his retailers. Sales beat is generally planned, like on Tuesday the DSR will go through this route, similarly for other days of the week)
    • Start meeting retailers, where he collects order--- (sales, if its new & existing retailer) and money, if its existing retailer
    • Enters data in the Sales Tool (Lot companies have moved /are moving into sales enablement tools…thanx to digitalization of sales process)
    • Generally, have late lunch (after 3pm), many don’t have that also
    • Does campaign as per plan (may be as simple as an Umbrella campaign outside the retailer store or in-store promotion)
    • Between (9-10) pm his day gets over, may/may not go back to office- Meets between (7-30) retailers based on the industry type & city, for ex: Lubricant industry, upto 7/8 counters, for tobacco 30/40 counters, both for one part of a large market like Mumbai

    Given their background & their role... maximum of their training is of Sales & Product training…the point is …is that enuf…!!๐Ÿ˜‰

    The ones highlighted are the key areas of his job & deliverable, so let’s look @ it in more dept to arrive @ the areas where he would need training:


    Key areas of (DSR/DSA) training

    Take the data (sales & collection of the customers in his beat for that day) from accounts

    • Product-wise sales across customer/markets—how the product is moving week on week 
    • Value wise movement across customers/markets 
    • Credit in terms of both value/number of days—corresponding collection status Movement of high margin products/new products – customer wise 
    • Campaign results in terms of off-take from the counter/market, where the campaign was conducted…. etc

    Being in sales, they finally deal in numbers as their key deliverable…but…do they understand numbers...??๐Ÿ˜ฒ ...No... they don’t. Hence, they don’t understand the analysis of the same also….๐Ÿ˜ณ!!..Wait a sec…are we looking for an analyst here…or a front line sales person…more importantly given their background and education level, will it be possible for them to understand & learn analysis, which leads us to this fundamental question…how much analysis do they need to know, there is already a company official (the sales executive in company payrolls earmarked for the distributor to support in analysis). Well the answer is YES…they need to understand analysis to the extent that helps them to read their basic sales & collection data…. which then helps in 2 things namely…

    First…they can understand their market (retailers) better…which helps in better performance Second…. they analyze the data (sales & collection) …. for the discussion in the morning meetings…which becomes very fruitful & output driven….

    So, what’s the analysis they need…. the need to analyze data (sales & collection) @ its basic level, they need to know how to calculate the following like (indicative list):


    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
    Training for DSR should include Basic sales formula & excel training


    What is needed to train them on this…basically a short session on sales formulas & excel..!!...Will they be able to understand it…๐Ÿ˜ถ…I share my experience as a trainer…I earlier also was of a similar opinion that they need but can’t be trained easily..&…guess what...I WAS WRONG…ever since my FIRST attempt to educate them on those fundamentals…there has been no looking back…they can learn & relate it to far faster than one can imagine…so great…here we are..

    Training for DSR should include Basic sales formula & excel training

    Attend the morning meeting

    We all have been attending meetings…can you tell two most important criteria for one to drive his/her point through it??...Well first…sound logic backed up with data & second …right presentation of the same…!! Ask any sales team…the unanimous choice of one area of improvement for the DSR will be…their presentation skill…surprisingly very few organizations do something about it…although majority of them know about it…If the DSR is the primary sales person for you in the market…how would you enhance your TBBE (Trade Based Brand Equity), if the torch bearer needs substantial improvement in their presentation skills…I would go a step ahead…on soft-skills…I have seen huge improvement in relationship marketing with the DSR’s who have better Soft-Skills…relationships across both the sides of the funnel…one side of the funnel…with the market (retailers etc) to the other side of the funnel…distributor & the company sales official..& both are equally important..!!
    Furthermore, not to forget it will help him to manage his dual reporting better….๐Ÿ‘…which is highly required for smooth functioning @ grass-root level
    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR

    Training for DSR should include Basics of Soft-Skill that are required for Sales

    Start meeting retailers, where he collects order (sales, if its new & existing retailer) and money, if its existing retailer

    Majority of the current training program/modules address this point of the DSR, which is also probably the main part of his day to day activities. The training is primarily made with an objective to educate the DSR with sales skills and product knowledge. The mediums of training are varied from classroom training, video-based training, role plays, case studies (one DSR presenting his success story to a group of DSR’s from other markets etc).

    Here I want to reiterate the following key guidelines:

    As a consumer, we have gone with the retailer recommendation many times…dropping our choice of brand…sometimes landing up buying a premium product than what we planned๐Ÿ˜Š….hence the retailer needs to be educated on the product/USP/benefits etc.…we all know….we all act also accordingly…so there are retailer meets/dealer apps etc.…etc.…๐Ÿ‘….but unfortunately that’s not enuf…. it’s important that the retailer is continuously & systematically bombarded with the same...& not only on few meets & on the digital tools (which stays @ the mercy of the retailer to see). This can ONLY BE DONE BY THE DSR/DSA, as he is the only person who visits the retailer on a regular basis….so the DSR/DSA needs to include that in the sales pitch…. which is only possible if he is trained on it? 


    Hence, training on basics of positioning/RTB should be a part of sales/marketing/product training of the DSR.

    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
    Training on basics of positioning/RTB should be a part of sales/marketing/product training of the DSR


    Except a handful of companies, I am yet to come across the company which explains their advertisement (TVC, Rdio, OOH , Social Media Campaigns etc) to the channel…I really don’t understand why they don’t…if it’s for the end consumers…those end consumers lands up in the retail to buy….where many times different retailer creates their own story of the advertisement based on their understanding/interpretation of the same) to consumers….That’s like walking directly into the Grave..!!....Now take that….a consumer hopps 5 shops in same/adjacent market to get the best deal out of a product…& learns about 3 different explanation of the same advertisement…!!...& …we are also same time parallelly  taking about brand image/identity/positioning etc etc…๐Ÿ˜ตsurprised)!!...On the hind side
    • It can be used by the retailer to proactively sale the product
    • The Retailer will be one more mouth-piece for the brand @ end-consumer level, if nothing he can talk about…. say a face book campaign….to the consumer who will visit your page...may be like it…subscribe…& buy next time...& we spent millions to get them…right…!!
    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
    DSR Training about the TVC
    The DSR needs to repeatedly hammer the retailer with the advertisement, so that he starts saying it to the end consumer…All this will happen only if the DSR is equipped with the same ..unlike …just informing him in the DSR meet…this is our new TVC..& play it on a big screen with lots of meaning-less claps to follow…๐Ÿ˜ˆ!!

    DSR should be shared details (reason for ad, purpose of it, what is the ad trying to say, to whom is it targeted, how to use this as a sales tool etc, on the current advertisements (at least mass media) of the company


    I was privileged to have great bosses in my career….I learnt more than my years of experience from them…..one very important thing that I learnt is…..both EFFORT & RESULT matter….and as one goes up the hierarchy…..RESULTS become more important than EFFORTS… (else think this…the MD of a company talks about how much effort he puts….although results don’t show….๐Ÿ˜„. One needs to have the same perspective for the DSR/DSA…..he/she should be evaluated both on effort/result….the irony is…the smaller the company…more they focus on result….&….they keep on staying smaller..!!..Efforts for the DSR may be number of counter he visited, number of campaigns he conducted, whether he fills up the daily sales report etc. etc.…. results ...we all know right...๐Ÿ˜†, collection days/value, number of new counters cracked, sales numbers etc. etc.

    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR

    Comprehensive beginner level personality development/grooming/image building training needs to be conducted for DSR/DSA…. financials can always be worked with the distributor...!!

    Whenever we talk of the DSR/DSA… maximum times the image that comes to our mind is the we discussed earlier…. (the image of sales-person during my school days). Its high time….companies start grooming exercise & image building exercise with the DSR…don’t worry…I am not suggesting to make them a flimstar…๐Ÿ˜…….but one that makes them presentable…more professional..!!...I really wonder this….companies spends substantial amount of money in training their sales team…with an highly active HR (Hopefully…๐Ÿ˜„ and an agile trade marketing/sales (again hopefully…๐Ÿ˜)…why don’t they care to spent a small amount on DSR personality development…๐Ÿ˜ณ….given finally on-ground…..the DSR/DSA is the representative of the brand..!!..& best part….it’s a visible differentiation @ trade level…..as very few companies (in fact negligible few) does it…so your DSR clearly stands out in front of the retailer/end consumer in case of campaigns…!! (giving T-shirts/Caps ...other merchandise items don’t solve it plz…. its required…but not enough…let’s not take the easier route out…. ๐Ÿ‘

    Ok, I had a good discussion…. &…hopefully same with you…so we conduct DSR training like we discussed…& spent…. huge amounts….NO…never…. NEVER DO THAT…๐Ÿ˜ณ

    In this digital age (primarily since 2010), social media is catering to more than 3 billion consumers in the world...!!.... What’s your DSR/DSA strength…!! ๐Ÿ˜œ….except few face-to-face meetings…&…may be the one-off with the senior company official…where only selected DSR can meet…..my suggestion is to make it completely online…(selection parameters can be decided….say effort , result & training performance….like that…based on your requirements..)…..This will take care of the biggest hurdle in DSR training….the time of the DSR….online modules which needs to be completed in a given time-frame, which the DSR can access as per his convenience…will definitely enhance the efficiency & effectiveness of the training programs..!!...๐Ÿ‘


    Online will also help to design course material as per DSR (yes….it can be done…plz check it….or @lest for a group of DSR)….make it regular with reporting… (NO….not big reports…sometimes only Image helps…๐Ÿ˜Šwhich is measurable….based on which a part of the incentive can be decided…& trust me…..you will get distributor support in maximum of the cases with a contribution from him …..may be over a period of time..๐Ÿ‘


    All we discussed will help in what???...DSR/DSA being more professional & performing….YES…..it will….but there are other benefits that comes with it….Your Distributor automatically in more aligned, New distributor appointment becomes easier with this proposal, Your retailers are more happy…which translates to in your consumer advocacy…Ur DSR/DSA retention rate goes up substantially with DSR from competition willing to join & very-very important point….the company sales person is more liquidation manager than dumping manager.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    Training, DSR, Distributor, Sales, Channel, Distributor Sales Representative, Ayan Biswas, Ayan’s Blog, Distributor Management. Sales Representative, DSR
    DSR Training & Digitization


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