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Interview

Interview: Building Trust on the B2B Digital Shelf, with Sean Donovan, Digital Channel Manager for the Americas, MSA - The Safety Company

There’s a lot at stake when B2B industrial buyers shop for safety products. The data’s got to be right and these days, it’s got to be digital. Sean Donovan, Digital Channel Manager for the Americas at MSA- the Safety Company, sat down with Peter and B2B Whisperer Justin King to discuss his strategy for making sure every channel partner has the data they need to build the trust needed to buy.

TRANSCRIPT

Peter:

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age. Peter Crosby here from the digital shelf Institute. You know, there's a lot at stake when B2B industrial buyers shop for safety products, the data's gotta be right. And these days it's gotta be digital Sean Donovan, digital channel manager for the Americas at MSA, the safety company sat down with me and B2B whisperer, Justin King, to discuss his strategy for making sure every channel partner has the data they need to build the trust needed to buy. Sean, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We really appreciate it. Uh, and you've been at MSA safety for over 20 years now, w across sales, marketing, regional management, strategic account management. How the heck did you end up being in charge of digital?

Sean:

Well, thank you. First of all, for having me. I appreciate it. Um, yeah, so it, it you're right. I, I have had multiple, uh, roles and, and a bunch of functions within a MSA and ended back into the, what we call our strategic account group, which is, uh, managing our strategic channel partners a few years ago. And at that point I really identified a need and a miss, uh, on our side is to how to, how to manage and control our, um, our online contents, what we provided obviously to our strategic accounts and also to, at that point, uh, up and coming new digital channels that we had, um, you know, like what kind of policies do we need in place? Uh, you know, what kind of website policies, what kind of, um, programs did we need in place for our channel partners? We started to look at, you know, obviously there's more, um, e-commerce specific channel partners that really only deal online as opposed to, uh, partners that we were used to that had brick and mortar.

Sean:

Um, so, you know, how do we fit those in our program? And then what sort of tech stack do we need to satisfy our, um, uh, our partners and to satisfy the whole program? I mean, not our program, really the strategy is really to be where our customers are and, you know, to where they want to transact and then to try and leverage our channel partners to do that. So, you know, what kind of technology do we need to do that? So that's kind of things I was looking at. And I realized that we had, we had a hole in our organization. So,

Peter:

So many other year rolls. You just decided, well, I'll fill it then

Sean:

Kind of like that. Yeah. I backed myself into that one. I was like, Oh gosh, I identified a problem with someone saying great fix it.

Peter:

I hate when that happens. And, and part of that was just realizing this, this wave is coming. Uh, we have digital only partners, our current, you know, strategic partners and others need to become digital if they're going to survive. And, and you thought we need to figure out what is the structure that we need to get ahead of it. Exactly. Yeah.

Justin:

Sean, you've I know you've been involved in the sales process, um, for, for quite some time, which I think is kind of unique coming into digital, right. For someone that was been part of the company too, you know, part of the, all these different functions to take care of digital. Um, but, but what, what have you seen as the, the new experiences that buyers are expecting? I have buyer's expectations really changed, um, from what they were in your past different roles.

Sean:

So you're right. I think it is fairly unique. My coming into this from a sales side of it, no matter, but I think that that also enables me to see it from the sales side and see the actual buying process and that I'm not sure that it's necessarily their needs have changed. It's the way in which does needs are fulfilled. And, and, and, um, uh, you've given everything to them that they need in a different manner than you did twin 10, 20 years ago. Um, and you know, you've now got a guy who is, uh, especially this last year, who on one screen is buying for his home, he's on his Amazon account, buying his shopping or his groceries, whatever. And then another screen he's doing his work business. Um, and his job is to buy products and he, and he has similar expectations. Now, he goes from the one to the other, um, you know, 10 years ago, he would be using a totally different platform for that. He'll be using a, an office computer that had a specialized, um, ERP system that would punch out an order and it'd be a paper document and that would get faxed across or emailed across or whatever it is. And nowadays it's a very, very similar process to what he's using to buy from home. So it looks similar, although it's very different at the back end, but, you know, the, the front end looks pretty similar. So it's changed. It's not like his needs haven't changed. It's the way he's going about it. That it changed.

Justin:

So, I mean, you're talking a little bit like the consumerization of B2B, is that, is that what it really all is? Is it just, is it really just kind of B2B wanting to look like B to C, um, are there, are there other different other kind of core differences that you see for what you guys experience versus someone like a retailer or a retail brand might experience?

Sean:

I, I think, you know, looking at it from a pure, a front-end perspective where you see a website, it looks very, very similar. Um, and I think that's, that's part of the catches people look at that and go, well, that's what we have to duplicate. It's just a matter of making it, you know, similar to look what a, a consumer website looks like an e-commerce website looks like. Um, but it is very different than the back end. You know, you've got a totally different type of customer that you're actually, although it looks the same, they're very different. You've got a repeat buy over the long standing relationships. You have a far more complex purchasing process that involves multiple people. Um, at times, uh, you know, has a much longer time period as well. You've got personalized pricing that you have to be able to afford. You have to be able to offer different payment options, including punch out systems. So that works with their own ERP system. Um, so, and it's, and it's not just about pretty pictures. Uh, these aren't impulse buyers, these are people that do this for a job. This is their living. This is what they do. Uh, you know, the details are incredibly important. Uh, you, you buy the wrong piece of safety equipment and someone could die. So there's a big difference.

Peter:

Yeah. That's a little different than my doggy treats that I get in the mail from Amazon.

Sean:

Exactly. So although the conceptual we'll look at it, it looks similar. I think there's a big difference on the backend of how it actually, you know, what you've got to provide to the customer, the level of detail you need to provide to them, you know, the type of content. It is very, very different. Uh, and I think people often look at them and think they're, they're, they're easy to, to, uh, you know, to duplicate. They're not.

Peter:

Yeah. You know, whenever there's sort of this provocative call to arms like Andy Hore several years ago, doing the B2B salesman is dead. And then at Forrester, and then you've got the consumerization of B2B. They're important things to say because they wake people up, right. They, they focus someone's attention on, okay, this is going to be a dramatic shift that we need to think about over a multi-year timeframe. But to me that, that, uh, that iceberg, that lies underneath that is this yes, you're trying to deliver the, the joy and the convenience and the ease and the transparency of the consumer relationship. But the iceberg that's underneath is incredibly complicated. And so it's actually even a harder job to make that work. That in some ways, because of the consumerization pressure almost needs to happen faster because people, you know, they don't think about the complexity that's underneath. They just want their thing when they want it.

Sean:

Exactly. Yeah. I think a lot of it is that, and then the consumerization Sydney has driven the need to, to, uh, improve the speed and increase the speed of this, uh, um, change. But it's, yeah, it's definitely a little bit more complicated than I would say more complicated on the B2C side. I I'm an impulsive buyer. I look at a pretty picture and I go, Oh, that's nice. I'll buy it. Um, you know, there's, I don't look at all the details. I don't look at whether it's, you know, w what type of product or what type of material it is. I don't look at all the standards at meets. I don't, I often it just looks nice and I buy it and it's not gonna affect anybody, but me. Yeah.

Justin:

Right. Do you, Sean, when you talked about, you started talking about di digital and you mentioned you really emphasize your channel partners in the e-commerce experience, when, when you think about e-commerce and the priorities, I guess, within the e-commerce, is it, is it about, is it about your own e-commerce like providing e-commerce yourselves or is it about enabling your channel partners to do e-commerce like, what's, what's the priority when you guys have started out

Sean:

For us, it's enabling our channel partners and providing the content to them. Um, and the reason for that is that a lot of our channel partners have already invested significant amounts of money in, uh, into e-commerce systems and working really hard to protect us. They can offer the, um, you know, the good backend payment options, the discounts they have the product assortment, which we don't have. They have a customer base that we don't necessarily have. That is much wider than what we have. So yeah, for us to focus on it ourselves, you know, in my mind is, is a, is a little bit self-defeating whereas to focus and partner with channel partners really makes it, uh, you know, reach much wider. Um, you know, we really gotta be able to capitalize and leverage what they've already, the investments they've already made and, uh, you know, their, their massive customer base that they already have.

Peter:

Right. So I know that you guys won't brag on yourselves, but a few months ago, you both produce the highest attended session at B2B online. It had a 97% stay rate all through the end. Um, I think our podcast has that. Um, so I I'd be betraying our audience if I didn't dig into what made all those people stick around. And I remember listening to it that it's somehow started out at the masters golf tournament. Justin, is that,

Justin:

You know, I always start with this story always, always, always, I don't even know if I remember how the story ties in. I don't even know if that's as important as a story. It was a good story. It was a great story. I just don't remember exactly how it applied. No, no. I mean, we, that the whole purpose of this session was really to talk about really what Sean just talked about is, um, for a manufacturer that there's a, there's a difference between what a manufacturer does and a distributor does. And there's a difference when you talk about commerce and digital of how you support your customers. So, so for distributor, I mean, they're interacting directly with customers. MSA works through their distributors to work with their customers. So e-commerce for them is very important on the product content side, which is really the, the, the, the center of what Sean and I talked about in a session the distributors need to aggregate or ingest content.

Justin:

They needed to partner with MSA to get their content into their e-commerce platform to serve their customers. That's very, very different from what a manufacturer needs to do of a manufacturer needs to publish or syndicate their content to all their channel partners. Sean just mentioned that. So for a brand manufacturer like MSA it's about when they think about e-commerce and e-commerce management and things like that, they're really talking about collaborating with their channel partners to enable those channel partners, to do the best commerce they can with the products they serve in a fact, is that the world, they are light years ahead of where we're heading industrial, probably a, probably a, a, a conservative thing to say is years. Um, we really have a, uh, a content problem industry wide content problem, especially in industrial electrical plumbing, where, where it's difficult for distributors to even collaborate with their manufacturers to take content is different from it's difficult for manufacturers to be able to publish content to those distributors. And so we're at this infancy stage. And I think part of what Sean and I were trying to do was, um, really, you know, uh, put a spark under the industry to try to encourage, um, the increased collaborative collaboration between vendor and distributor. I know, I know for you, Sean, you know, you guys, you guys have a PIM, but, but, but a PIM wasn't everything you needed. Right. W it didn't, it didn't serve all your needs, um, with, with that in mind, right?

Sean:

Yeah, we exactly, we, we, we needed more than just that we need to be able to, uh, to take this information and share it, uh, and it's the tools to share. And then it's the ability for our partners, our distributors, to be able to receive it in a manner that they want. Um, I think you're right. There's, there's such a massive increase in the speed of having to do this right now for our channel partners and distributors that they're tripping over themselves and we're tripping over ourselves. Now, I think a lot of manufacturers in the same position where we're all kind of trying to do all this, and you really need to do it collectively. We really need to look at this holistically and make sure that we're, we're, we're able to work together, because if everybody does it in isolation, you're just never going to be able to scale this because it's, you know, everyone's going to have their own solution, uh, which doesn't match everybody else's solution.

Sean:

So what we were trying to say is, okay, we we've got this information. How do you need it? How do you want it? What is the base tool for us to be able to provide that to you so that it works with your system as well. And we really try to work really well with our distributors and channel partners, you know, as, as a partner to, to provide that in a format that they need. So, yeah, that was what we really, really needed was how do we get this information to their hands? That's good for us and good for them. Yeah.

Peter:

Because when you look at the stats, Oh, sorry, Justin, I just wanted to throw out some, some stats here for a second, just because it is an industry wide problem with 69% of B2B customers. These are from a B2B commerce, uh, of 69% of B2B customers cite lack of images as a major problem on sites, almost 70%, almost 70% of B2B buyers site, inadequate product content on their distributor sites, 76% cite a lack of shipping transparency because, uh, that distributors lack supply chain data. So the, you can see when you start getting those numbers down, the conversion rate, uh, and the customer satisfaction is going to rise because we've seen that happen on the B to C side, and you can extrapolate that. And certainly you can extrapolate it knowing that the stakes here are much higher because it's someone's job to get this right. Sorry, Justin, I just want to get those out.

Justin:

No, those, those are exactly the statistics I was going to list off Peter. Cause I think, I think what's interesting about that is it's um, what, what, what bad product content breeds is distrust, right? Uh, distrust of that distributors e-commerce, uh, platform and the content that a has. And then the, the, the last one you cited there, Peter, he said 76% lack shipping transparency and supply chain data that that's not e-commerce data. That's like basic bread and butter supply chain, data like dimensions and weights. Like the product is this big and it weighs this much. So we can charge shipping for this much. Like that's the reason most of the industry still can't calculate shipping at the time of placing an order is just lacking that. So we can even, we can even remove e-commerce from this conversation and just say isn't content, data, product, data, data about the products and the packages that comes in just critical to being able to deliver and get a product to an end customer. And I think it is.

Sean:

Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. Uh, Jasmine, I think there's, there's more to e-commerce than just, you know, having a good website. It's, it's being able to back it up, um, being able to back it up with those type of logistics. I mean, it's be honest, that's what Amazon is. It's an incredible logistics company with a really pretty a front end website. So it's, it's their ability or ability to be able to transport that stuff, manage it effectively, um, you know, have the right pricing, have the right sizes dimensions. And then the other things that you obviously need in, uh, in the industrial side, it's, you know, things like the heat tolerance, intrinsic safety, the sensor sensitivity is that arc blast resistance. Yeah. That type of information is not critical for a buyer to be able to, to see and, and, um, do his research with, because, you know, let's be honest, especially right now, there's not a whole lot of trade shows going on.

Sean:

There's not a whole lot of, um, face-to-face meetings taking place. So, you know, every piece of information you're getting is, is online. And you have to have that online. And if you want to turn your, uh, if a distributor wants to turn their site into a research, um, site, as opposed to merely an e-commerce transaction site, they need to have more than just the table stakes, which is, you know, the basic data that, uh, you get to your ship size dimensions, that type of thing. Otherwise. Yeah. Otherwise they're going to go to somewhere else. If I'm a, if I'm a B2B buyer, I want to, I want to use a similar site or the same site every day, if I can, to avoid having to flip between places and, uh, suppliers. So if I've got a distributor that that really has, or a supplier that has a really good, um, cite with really good data, and that's where I'm going to stay, why would I want to go somewhere else?

Sean:

I can do comparisons, if it's good, it gives me the ability to compare products. And it's got a really nice list of attributes that I can compare then. Yeah. I wouldn't want to go anywhere else. And that's part of what we're trying to get to. We try to rush from a state of nothing to it, to be, go beyond what BDCs already offering, uh, you know, in, in a state, in, in, in a very, very short time span. So it's really, uh, someone has to drive this and someone has to be pushing it. And that's where we felt it's really up to us if we want this to work well. Uh, if we want MSA to be seen as, as a, um, a reliable, uh, a say consistent manufacturer, we need to try and make that consistent no matter what, no matter where anybody goes to look, they will see that same level of detail, um, on a page. Yeah.

Justin:

I remember a, um, a manufacturer that sent content to its largest distributor. It's the first time that ever did that. And they sent just kind of basic supply chain data and some e-commerce attributes. And within 60 days, the manufacturer, the distributor reported back to the manufacturer, they had doubled sales. But the fascinating part about that, it goes to your point, Sean, about research versus buying, um, 75% of the sales was actually offline, increase offline, not online, like only 25% was an increase in online sales. 20, 75% was offline. It turns out that people inside of the distributor, as well as distributors customers were researching online and finding better content from this manufacturer, making better decisions or informed decisions about the purchasing. And then they were purchasing in whatever way they wanted to. Right. I mean, they might've sent a fax. I mean, who knows? Right. They were texting email e-procurement EDI, punch out whatever way they were purchasing the, the research pattern there, the research trusts that they had in that product content surpassed the actual add to cart transaction part of e-commerce. And I think that's a huge differentiator in B2B that it's okay. If someone doesn't purchase online, they're going to be, they have to purchase the way their company purchases. Right. But that research phase, I think that was a really critical point.

Sean:

I think, I, I really think if you're going to differentiate yourself as a, uh, as a distributor in this market, you need to be able to create that everyone talks about Omni channel. Uh, and, and it's a great buzzword at the moment, but it, it, it, it, it's also a great, uh, um, a great strategy, but it has to be consistent if you're not consistent in it, then it falls apart. If you've got fantastic salespeople that are out there that just really know their stuff. But when I click on your website, it's just got so limited data. It's scary. I kind of lose my trust in, I trust your sales guy, but I don't trust your company. Um, so I think it's important to have that consistency across your, your channels, uh, as a distributor. And, and this is how you do it, you do it through content,

Peter:

Man. I just love what you just said. I trust your sales guy, but I don't trust your company. That is the, that is the difference, right? When you leave that person to person relationship and they go to other online to either remind themselves or get a little bit, and they don't find it, they're there, it's, it'll be easier for them to walk away, um, or get frustrated. And I think that's so important. And, you know, Sean, when you, you know, when we lay out all of these pieces and the hard on infrastructure and the where's, the data and everything, it's a daunting job. And so for our listeners, can you walk through a little bit, like, so someone turned around and said, well, you, you showed us this problem. Now go fix it. So tell us a little bit about, um, how you've approached it in a way that is manageable for your organization.

Sean:

I can perhaps give you some insights of not what to do. Um,

Peter:

But, um,

Sean:

No, I, I think that, that the key thing is to really have a holistic approach to what you're doing. You need to, you need to determine what it is you're going to do with this data. First of all, like, how do you want to use it instead of assuming that if you have it, they will come because they won't, um, putting all the data in one spot is not just a solution. It's how do you use it thereafter? How do you want to use it? I mean, is it for your own e-commerce, um, uh, needs or is it for a channel partner needs? Um, and then I would say you want to start small. I think that's one of the challenges. And one of the things we learned was we said, great, let's just do this. And we went ahead and we put all that data in there and put all the part numbers into this, into a system.

Sean:

And it's like, Whoa, hang on a second. Um, there's just an awful lot of work to do here. And it just, it just seems incredibly daunting at that point. So we re readjusted, recalibrate it and said, okay, let's just start with a small number of skews that aren't going to, you know, isn't going to be so daunting. And once we get those, um, Dan and maps and, and, uh, you know, really the content put in properly, it'll be easier to scale it because once you've mapped it, you've mapped it. Um, then as you add in part numbers, it's already, you know, it's going to populate itself. So that was the, the second thing we really had. And, and, and there really is a huge payoff in all this. I mean, we saw, um, through improving our content, uh, just on one side, we had a 30% improvement in conversion rate. Uh, and that was just adding, you know, adding detail to the, to the same page. So we already had a page and then it was, we just added detail to it and a 30% increase in conversion rates. So it's not hundreds of percents, but it's it's, it was good. It was, uh, I was, I was very impressed with that and that wasn't even having adding major amounts of eight plus content and things like that. It was, uh, or enhanced content. It was purely just adding good data to it. I, to though 30%,

Justin:

I mean, 30% increase in conversion rate is pretty incredible, especially, I'm sure if you, if you, I know it's difficult to get this data today, but if you have page views that increase and you get an increase in conversion rate, the math on that, um, starts to get pretty incredible. It doesn't it,

Sean:

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Then it's, yeah. If you get, if you're getting more hits on a page and your conversion rates increasing, yeah. Then you're laughing,

Justin:

A Granger Granger has we use some of these statistics in our presentation, Sean, of, you know, better content increases, conversion rate on granger.com. You know, the increase of whether it's three 60 degrees bend the images, 9.6 increase video, 7.5% increase images, quality images, 9% increase, and overall better content adding these, you know, above the kind of the description and the attributes increases by 9% or 9.2%. Um, so there's, there's a lot of value to it, but I think practically speaking, I think I've seen a lot of companies experience what you have. I mean, 30% increase is just incredible.

Sean:

Sorry, go ahead. But if you took that 9.2% increase, you can add that onto the 30% we had, because as was us, didn't even have the video in there, we didn't have any true, didn't have PDFs and three 60 spins and CAD files on there. So yeah, there's a good average, you know, good lot more that you can do

Justin:

Just providing the content, um, provided that an increase for you. That's significant. So, Sean, what's your team design for getting this done? Like what kind of team are you building for the future?

Sean:

So I think ultimately there's three core positions. You, you want to have, um, you want to have a director or manager that has responsibility for your pin strategy. And that was going back to that holistic approach. I was talking about like, what is your strategy? What do you intend to do with the information? Um, how's the fit in within the organization, uh, and what you're doing now, because one of the things we found was, you know, it's, it's really central and integral to our entire marketing and sales, um, uh, organizations. It's not an add on, on the side. It's not something that you add on and, and, you know, you feed it from other places you really need to make that you need to make your PIM system, your, uh, uh, source of truth. It needs to be how you, you need to figure out how this works with product launches.

Sean:

Um, so it needs to be owned by someone that strategy needs to be owned by somebody. And, uh, you know, that's obviously going to change and shift as things, uh, occurred. I mean, our world is changing rapidly, so you need to have someone that's, you know, up to speed with it and, uh, able to manage that strategy. Then I think you need a champion of the platform, um, who it could be multiple people, depending on your size, your size or your strategy. And that's someone that really owns how everything operates inside your, um, your pen system. So this is a person that basically acts as a traffic cop, make sure, you know, keeps everything up to date, make sure the right people are adding the right things and making sure all the mappings correct, making sure that each department is responsible for their portions and is completing things properly.

Sean:

And then I think my dream person, uh, is an online merchandiser. Uh, and I think that's a very peculiar skillset, especially on the B2B side, because, you know, it's easy to do. It's easier to merchandise online, I think as a consumer, because we all kind of know what we want in a consumer side of things, but having a B2B merchandise merchandiser, someone that really understands what B2B buyers are looking for. Um, and you know, we, aren't all B2B buyers. I work in a B2B organization, but I would slough to really think hard about what, uh, what, what I'm one of my buyers really wants and needs information wise or content wise to make that buying choice in that decision. So I think that's, that's, if you can, once you've got everything set up to have that type of position that then online merchandiser, um, specific that has some, some B2B history or knowledge and understanding, uh, I think that would be the final.

Peter:

Yeah, Sean, I think that's a really good call out because it is different because the online merchandiser also needs to be an, an, uh, someone who can think in SEO terms, right. Because so much of the content that you're putting into the product page. Yes. It's meant to drive the experience on the page, but it's also, you know, you're trying to win the algorithm. How, how can I make sure that, that, that shopper, that buyer will find their way to my product page and that's, that's all search term keywords, you know, and that's the stuff that it's coming off of the product page to do that. And, uh, and so I think it is a different mindset and it's, uh, in a way almost a marketer and a merchandiser mindset at the same time, which is a, it's a different higher than who you might've hired on the, you know, to do the catalog.

Sean:

Absolutely. Yeah. I think finding that person will really turn your, uh, your whole system and end its value around. Um, so

Justin:

Like, is it a PR, is that a person you think you can hire or is that, is that a, is that someone that has to come from industry, like from, from your company or at least from someone in your industry?

Sean:

I, I think that could be either all, but I think it would depend on, uh, on the complexity of your particular, uh, B2B industry, for instance, somebody, I think for us personally, it probably would come from within, um, because we really want someone that understands things like gas detection, um, you know, complex for protection things. There's, there's, it's a little bit complex and it's a little bit harder and, and having somebody that's dealt with it and worked with it and understands the customer, um, what they might need is, is a really useful benefit. If your product line is, is, you know, maybe a little bit more customer CPG type organization, you may not need that, uh, depth of, uh, of understanding of, uh, specific standards and regulations and complexities. But I, I think there's a, it could be either, or I think for us, I would probably look internally

Peter:

And let me ask you inside of your organization. You know, so often we hear that, um, the people driving digital transformation at manufacturers are in addition to doing their day job are also throwing on their armor, getting on top of the Steed with the Lance and going out into the company, like, um, you know, um, agitating for change and educating. And it's, uh, it's a, it's an additional part of your job. And I was wondering at MSA, um, how have you found the rest of the organization, which may have been turned towards the, the traditional sales model? How have you found them sort of engaging in what you're doing and, uh, and, and how has that sort of silo busting been going?

Sean:

I think for the most part, that's, it, it depends on the way you can't, your sales team certainly is compensated. Um, I think often that's a key miss that some organizations may have our particular, uh, sales team isn't compensated on individual, um, accounts and, um, you know, territories they're actually compensated on national numbers. So yes, there's certainly some, um, merits, uh, based rewards, uh, locally, but the majority it's actually national numbers. So as it's actually been fairly simple to implement, and I think the acceptance has been great and, uh, has been really well received because they see it as a tool for them. Uh, they see it as of benefit to them, uh, when you can have good content. And when you, you're talking about, you know, working with channel partners, they're like, great. That makes my life easier. It gives me something to be able to use as well. So we were very fortunate and I think we, we, we had the right compensation structure in the first place that enabled us to, uh, you know, to roll this out in it, to be accepted by our sales team.

Peter:

That's, that's really great to hear. We were talking with the chief digital officer of Don foods, which is, um, you know, they've supplied bakery, bakeries, fly flour, et cetera, to, you know, to industrial restaurant industrial is probably the wrong term, but, uh, large scale restaurants and things like that. And it was what they, um, they really structured their digital business around enabling their salespeople to free up from the kind of restock sort of conversation and free it up for a more, you know, what are you trying to achieve with your business conversation and get the same thing be said to be happening in the safety, the safety sector?

Sean:

I think definitely. I think it can, um, I think there's, you, you, that's what you want to allow your sales team to be able to do, right. I mean, the end of the day, they, you want them to be consultants. You want them to be adding value to your customers. Um, if they're the ones that are providing weights and measures and, and, you know, things like heat loads and stuff like that, that's not what you want to be paying a salesperson to do. They really don't need to be able to do that. And as it is your, your case, you're talking about yeah. Having them wandering around talking, uh, doing online stock, uh, doing, uh, in-person stock fills and things like that. That's yeah, that's an expensive, expensive process and, uh, not very scalable. Uh, I think that the problem is it just, you can't scale your people. There's only so many hours in a day, and there's only so many places a person could drive to. Um, so you, whatever you do look at it as how do I scale this? What's the best way for me to add value into the process? So my sales team is really adding value to the channel partners, adding value to the customer, as opposed to community providing information that traditionally would have been held in a, in a catalog somewhere, um, or, you know, through a customer service line or something like that.

Peter:

It's an exciting path that you're on Sean. And so I, I have to ask you, uh, what is on your wishlist for, for 2021, w where are you putting your digital energies this year

Sean:

Excited about, um, for us, it's really, for me personally, it's about analytics and, um, providing some actual data, actionable data for our key channel partners to improve both our opposition on their e-commerce sites and to improve their conversion rates. Um, you know, it's one thing for a channel partner or distributor to say, Hey, listen, you know, you're, you're our number one provider of gas detectors. You, you you're you're, you guys are great and you do a search on their site for gas detectors. And, you know, we barely make the top, top 10 products, um, you know, to be able to go back and say, Hey, listen, thank you for tech for making us number one. That's awesome. We appreciate it, but that's not, what's coming up on your website. It's have does that cause those kinds of conversations to be able to talk to them and then to be able to review the content and say, let's, you know, you, you've got some of our products you're missing some, um, so, you know, talk about what, um, uh, what products they have on their website.

Sean:

Maybe we can improve them. You're missing some of the key ones that we see a lot of traction on. Uh, and then the content and looking at what's on those, um, uh, sites as well. So you've got one image, we've got three great images. And are you able to put three 60 images on your site? Are you able to do, uh, you know, put some, um, uh, PDF bulletins on there as well? What other data you're looking for that we can improve? So that's, it's turning, I want to start being a little bit more scientific about it and actually looking at what they've got, uh, what we can provide to help improve their sites, their conversions, and obviously to improve opposition on the, their website as well. You want to shoot straight above my, uh, punch above my weight class a little bit, if we can.

Peter:

Great. I mean, throughout this, this, uh, this podcast, the, the word that keeps coming to my mind that we've talked about is, is building trust. And you're doing it throughout the supply chain. You're not just sort of building trust with the end buyer, by making sure that data there, you're actually bringing data to your channel partners to, to build that trust that you're a partner that they want to invest in and work with. And that's just, that's just smart business. Well, I hope so. Well, I can't wait to see how 2021 goes for you. Um, uh, Justin as always thank you for being here. And Sean, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your strategy with us. It's, it's really inspiring and I appreciate you investing in the digital shelf Institute community.

Sean:

Again, thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it. And, uh, it was been a lot of fun. Thanks for coming, Sean. Thank you.

Peter:

Thanks to Sean for sharing his insights. If this podcast got you thinking, please share it with your colleagues and thanks as always for being part of our community.