Employee Experience Strategy for Distributors

April 26, 2023
Thomas F. Fitzgerald, CPA 

The best distributors in the industry make creating a positive employee experience a top priority. That’s because it’s closely correlated with increased productivity. Moreover, companies with satisfied employees also tend to have happier customers. 

Having a positive employee experience is also associated with lower turnover, a greater ability to attract top talent for open positions, and a reputation as a great company. People thrive at work when they know what they’re trying to accomplish, understand how their actions and choices impact the business and have the technology they need to reach their goals. For many local and regional distributors, having a consistent contact available to your customers is important in helping drive customer loyalty. It is human nature to be more comfortable with people that we already know, even if those people are calling or emailing to collect on an invoice.

In this post, we’ll discuss the critical role technology can play in your employee experience strategy—and drive your business forward.

Minding the Gap: Tying Technology to Employee Performance

Whether you’re implementing a new technology or working on a strategy to better utilize what you already have, you might find yourself facing an all-too-common challenge. Despite the benefits technology promises, your team isn’t harnessing its full power. Often, this happens when people don’t tie the technology and the capabilities it produces to their success. Put another way, they can’t visualize the relationship between using the tools they use and the performance levels those tools can deliver. 

To overcome these obstacles, take the time to train your team members on how the technology will measurably impact their own experience with the company. Also, demonstrate the rewards associated with greater performance. For example, make sure your sales team understands that the technology available to them can positively impact their commissions. 

Creating a positive employee experience means understanding that company profitability alone is not enough to motivate your staff. People need to see how the tools they’re using make a difference in their quest to achieve their own work-related goals. When your team knows how their individual performances contribute to the overall goals, you’ll garner greater employee buy-in.

4 Ways the Right Information Can Produce a Positive Employee Experience

Here are four ways that choosing the right technology can yield the right information, ultimately turning employees into advocates:

1. They’ll spend time where it matters.

In a previous post, we explained how analytics can help you discover which clients are better opportunities than others. If you were to focus on a single variable—for instance, revenue—sales staff in charge of these accounts may expend time and energy expanding the relationship with a client that is in fact unprofitable. Technology that simply spits out data is far less valuable than tech that provides important context and analytical tools. This type of technology equips employees with the information they need to make better decisions and customize the experience each customer receives. 

2They’ll be armed with the right information to make connections between results and behavior.

Let’s say you have a distribution company manager whose feedback to their employees goes something like this: “I’ve been looking at our bottom line. Improve it. I need X number to be better.” Without providing any suggestions how the staff might change this number, the manager is setting the team up for failure. Employees need to understand the actions and inputs that contribute to the results in order to effectively control the outcome. Having access to the best available information allows them to make these connections. And, critical for employee experience, they can tie their own behaviors back to their achievements, feeling empowered to find areas for improvement and to make positive changes.

3The objectives they’re given will apply personally to each team member.

Most distributors don’t give individual employees their own objectives. Instead, they focus on either the team as a whole or, worse, on the company overall. When you sit down with each staff member and talk about their individual goals, they are more likely to feel aligned with the company’s mission and see how their contributions fit into the business’ success. Furthermore, individual KPIs provide motivation, improve the team’s ability to strategically plan for success, and guide each employee’s choices and actions.

4. Everyone will know their objectives are achievable.

The most robust technology solutions provide distributors with comparatives and other information that allow managers to see how each salesperson, warehouse, branch, division, and region is performing relative to their peers. Not only does everyone have the information they need to achieve their objectives—and believe in their ability to do so—but comparatives also shine a light on each part of the business, down to the employee. This raises everybody’s game, from high performers to those who are continuously falling short. Better still, employees are more likely to be more motivated in an environment where no one can fly under the radar and everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

Comparatives also offer a lifeline to those seeking to improve their performance. The right technology will provide information and insight into why performance is suffering, which is crucial for changing both customer and company behavior going forward.

In the end, the right resources empower internal teams to succeed, thereby contributing to and improving the overall employee experience. Profitability isn’t the only factor distributors should focus on in their employee experience strategy. To reach your goals, you need to take a balanced, holistic view of your company, including the productivity levels and satisfaction of the people who work for you.

Thomas F. Fitzgerald, CPA
Thomas possesses over 40 years of experience driving proven results in corporate financial management, spanning the scope of strategic planning, merger & acquisition, market/product targeting, sales plan integration, operations control & review, cash flow management, capital acquisition, income tax planning & compliance, wealth preservation planning, and enterprise resource planning design...
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