Dealers are extremely busy people, working on multiple projects for multiple clients at any given time. The old ways of doing business — calling or sending an email to your sales rep to see if you have an item in stock — are too time consuming both for you and your customer.
They can also put your business at risk. Dealer-customers who no longer have the time or inclination to call or email your company may seek another supplier, or even resort to ordering parts from eBay or Amazon Business.
If you have a robust network of dealers who purchase from you regularly, you might want to consider launching a dealer portal. The portal can serve as your dealers’ single, comprehensive resource for product information, managing their orders, and tracking tickets and claims. In the process, you will drive significant efficiencies for both you and your customers.
While there are numerous benefits to a dealer portal, topping the list are the self-service capabilities that a portal offers its users. Your customers can — at their own convenience, 24/7 — access product data and schemas, build an order using a product configurator, view product selection and availability, request special quotes, place orders, and check on the status of one.
It’s important to remember that your sales reps will no longer need to provide these critical, but routine, data points via a phone call or email.
But that’s not to say that a portal, by definition, eliminates all interactions with your sales team. There will be times when an important dealer-customer needs the help of your sales team, such as verifying the accuracy of an order or adding products to them. A portal can help you do that as well, as we’ll see below.
Some dealers prefer to order and track expenses on a client basis, while others prefer to place a single order encompassing all of their client requirements at once. A dealer portal can accommodate each dealer’s preference, making it easier for them to do business with you and helping to ensure their long-term loyalty.
Ensure Accuracy of Orders
Dealer portals can also be used to ensure accuracy of orders. For instance, when orders are complex, often encompassing up to 40 items or more, users can often make mistakes when placing them, such as ordering incompatible hardware. Correcting those user errors manually would be extremely time consuming. By utilizing a convenient online portal, companies can increase efficiency and automate the ordering process.
Ongoing Time Savings
A dealer portal provides numerous time-saving features, such as the ability for dealers to create, save, modify, and reuse orders rather than start each new transaction from scratch. They can also create lists to share among their internal buyers.
A dealer portal offers plenty of benefits to you and your sales team. For instance, your sales team or sales management can see sales history by dealer and territory and use that insight for marketing and sales development purposes.
Your dealer portal should reflect any customized pricing you have negotiated with individual dealers. Reflecting the negotiated prices will eliminate the need for follow-up phone calls to your sales reps.
A portal must allow your sales teams to log in on behalf of a dealer, access shopping lists, add products to the cart, and complete placement of the order if the dealer requests it.
Order and Shipping Status
Dealers are often asked by their customers for an update on their projects. If that dealer is relying on an order from you to begin, work on or complete a project, they will need 24/7 access to their updated order status.
Tickets and Claims
Dealers need the ability to track the status and resolution of tickets or claims they raised with your company. Enabling them to do so on their own adds to the convenience of doing business with your company.
Product Selection & Availability
Dealers largely place orders when they have specific and immediate client needs. Your portal should provide your customers with real-time product data and availability to help them plan their projects.
All detailed product specs, instructions, videos and so on should be readily available from within the portal so that dealers can get answers to questions and make the right choices for their projects.
If necessary, product configurations can guide dealers through the product selection and ordering processes, ensuring that their projects aren’t delayed due to missing or incorrect components.
The last consideration for a dealer portal is its integration with your ERP system so that all the customer, product, and order data contained within it is available to your dealer-customers as they interact with your site: