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Triggering Growth from Within – How Distribution Companies Can Drive Growth

Karthik Chidambaram
July 1, 2024 |
How Distribution Companies Can Drive Growth From Within | Blog banner

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Wolcott, a distinguished leader in innovation and business strategy. Robert co-founded TWIN Global and holds adjunct professorships at both the Kellogg School of Management and the Booth School of Business. He is also a Co-Founder of Clareo, an advisory firm, and serves on the boards of three companies. Additionally, Robert  has investments in over 30 firms driving the “proximity revolution”. 

During our discussion on the Driven By DCKAP podcast, we explored strategies for companies to foster internal growth. Robert’s insights are informed by his extensive experience and research in the field. Here are the highlights of our conversation, along with additional strategies to help distribution companies excel internally.

Exploratory Challenges Instead of Rigid Directives

Robert emphasized a crucial point: the need to ask better questions. The essence of innovation strategy lies in maintaining a portfolio of options for the future. Just like a financial portfolio, facing uncertainty requires having diverse possibilities. To cultivate this diversity, companies must explore broadly.

Focusing solely on your existing industry, supply chain, customers, and suppliers limits your vision. It is essential to pose exploratory challenges rather than directives. Directives, such as “We should build a rooftop solar business,” might be beneficial, but they represent a predetermined answer. In contrast, exploratory challenges involve hypothesizing and investigating new areas without predefined outcomes. This approach can reveal valuable opportunities and threats early on.

Engaging Your Best Talent

Exploratory challenges require the attention and time of your best people, which is a limited resource. However, engaging your top talent in exploring new spaces can yield significant benefits. They are more likely to identify opportunities before they become apparent to competitors and can also detect potential threats early.

For example, consider setting up small, cross-functional teams to explore emerging technologies, new market trends, or alternative supply chain models. Encourage these teams to think creatively and pursue innovative ideas without the pressure of immediate results.

Additional Strategies for Internal Growth

Building on Robert’s insights, here are some additional strategies to trigger growth from within for distribution companies:

1. Invest in Employee Development

Provide ongoing training and development opportunities to your employees. A well-trained workforce is more adaptable and capable of driving innovation within the company.

2. Keep Communication Channels Open

Ensure clear and consistent communication within your organization and with distribution partners. Regular updates and feedback loops align goals and address issues swiftly.

3. Automate Sales Tasks

Implement automation tools to handle routine sales tasks, allowing sales reps to focus on engaging more outlets. Automation enhances data security and provides easy access to business reports.

4. Monitor and Optimize Inventory Levels

Use inventory management software to maintain optimal stock levels, forecast demand, and manage reorder points. This reduces holding costs and minimizes stockouts or excess inventory.

5. Shaping the Sales team

Distributors can foster internal growth by strategically shaping their sales teams. One effective method is to establish a dedicated product specialist or solutions consultant within the sales department. This individual would serve as a pivotal resource endowed with in-depth knowledge of the distributor’s products. Their role would involve continuously training the sales team to ensure they are well-versed in product features, benefits, and industry trends. 

Acting as a bridge between the distributor and the company, the solutions consultant can provide valuable insights and feedback, which would help refine sales strategies, adjust pricing strategies, and capitalize on emerging market opportunities. By centralizing expertise and attention on their products, distributors can enhance competitiveness and achieve optimal sales outcomes.

Recommended read: AI Reshaping Distributor Operations & Boosting Sales

Triggering growth from within requires a strategic approach that blends exploration with the efficient use of resources. By asking better questions, posing exploratory challenges, engaging talent effectively, and implementing additional growth strategies, distributors can uncover new opportunities and stay ahead in a competitive landscape.

Remember, the key is not just to seek answers but to continuously explore and adapt. As Robert Wolcott suggests, dedicating time and attention to these practices can yield significant returns, positioning your company for sustained growth and success.

Karthik Chidambaram

Karthik Chidambaram is the Founder & CEO of DCKAP. He bootstrapped the company from his small apartment in Chicago, Illinois. DCKAP simplifies commerce for distributors. DCKAP was started with 2 people, 2 computers and 2 desks and is now a global and distributed team. Karthik reckons industry setbacks and renders solid & practical solutions to organizations. He holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. You can read more about him on his personal blog here.

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