How Manufacturers Can Create a Stronger Relationship With Their Dealers

Creating a strong relationship between manufacturers and dealers requires a delicate balance of communication, encouragement and support.The right tools can help bridge the gap and make it possible for dealers and manufacturers to win more business together. We sat down with Dave Crowell from Gateway Consulting to learn how he helps manufacturers transform their existing process to grow their business while expanding their dealer networks.

Ingage: You’re a leader in consulting for manufacturers and sales teams, what led you down this path?

Dave Crowell: I started 34 years ago in an entry level position at Andersen Corporation right out of college, working with elite sales and marketing teams and contributing to the promotion and development of successful dealer networks. I also had a hand in designing playbooks to effectively and successfully implement best-in-class education and sales tools and helping to develop and utilize analytics to help drive objective decisions and network performance. Probably the most rewarding component in working at a company for such a long time was seeing the success with start-up entrepreneurs in building their home services businesses into very successful, community, employee and customer focused businesses! After retiring from Andersen, I couldn’t sit still and decided to bring my training and experience to other dealer networks and manufacturers to help them grow their business.

Ingage: With your background in the manufacturing and home improvement industry, what do you see as the biggest challenge dealers and manufacturers are facing right now?

Dave: Obviously, companies in the home services segment have enjoyed unprecedented sales success the past two years,  but I think a lot of companies are overlooking their talent and organizational design when thinking ahead to the next 2-3 years. Today’s business has sales teams looking great, because the demand is higher than ever. But what happens as things slow down and you start to learn that those high-performing reps aren’t actually high performers? Will they make the cut, will companies need to train more, or continue to hire more representatives?  

That’s why sales leaders need to step back and look at building more collaborative relationships between manufacturers and dealers, as well as dealers and their reps. They need to drill down into what I call “microgains,” which are incremental improvements leaders can make in marketing, sales and customer experience. This is where great tech, like Ingage, comes in and allows leaders to implement technology for creating great customer presentations, to track utilization, while coaching and mentoring representatives. It enables representatives to make incremental gains in their presentations on every appointment, while continuing to deliver exceptional customer experiences and business results.

Ingage: How does your microgain mindset fit into the playbook you bring to clients?

Dave: I start by getting a really close look at where the clients are with their account management and planning, then determine what pieces they can adjust to do things better. It’s less about creating an entirely new system and more about finding unique ways to multiply the efforts they’re already making with incremental adjustments, or microgains to grow their business.

It’s also really important to get the dealers involved when working with a manufacturer, almost like building a bridge between them. This connection brings in new energy from dealers and ensures their voices are heard. When you listen to their feedback and consider their challenges and opportunities, everyone feels more purposeful and can build a better business.

Ingage: Switching gears, let’s talk about what you were using before Ingage for sales presentations.

Dave: I was part of an organization that made investments in implementing a suite of quality technology tools, covering everything from pricing apps to presentations. After starting Gateway Consulting, I found myself looking into companies and new apps that could broaden my network for potential offerings for manufactures with dealer networks. I heard about Ingage through friends in the industry, like Mark Richardson, and we quickly formed a great partnership aligned on a common goal - to help manufacturers and their dealer networks win more deals. This enabled Gateway and Ingage to join forces, giving clients not only an incredible platform but the insight on how to implement and drive adoption across tens, hundreds and thousands of dealers across the nation.

Ingage: What made you select Ingage as the presentation platform to recommend to your clients?

Dave: For me, it came down to the character of the leadership group at Ingage. They have a sincere passion and desire to grow along with extensive experience and tech know-how to build a great platform that answers the calling of contractors everywhere. And the tech really hits the mark, offering components of a presentation that actually help train reps better and lead to more sales.

Ingage: You mentioned using Ingage to train reps better. Can you tell us what role the platform plays in training?

Dave: I always tell dealers and manufacturers with Ingage that it’s more than just an in-home presentation tool, it’s an onboarding tool as well. When you look at this industry, you have a lot of sales representative turnover, in some situations over 25-35%. Encouraging owners and sales leaders who select Ingage to utilize the technology for creating great presentations, while at the same time using the platform to train the reps on “using it” to create great presentations for their customers on every appointment!

When I bring Ingage upstream and introduce it earlier in the training process, I’ve seen a clear difference in the way reps respond and in turnover. The training presentation is a high-quality presentation that goes into the company story and keeps reps and customers engaged throughout the 2 hour in-home appointment. Plus, it shows them right off the bat how Ingage differentiates them from their competitors and immerses them in the tool right away. It makes them a better presenter and even a better design consultant.

Ingage: How do you determine ROI for Ingage users?

Dave: The best way to figure out if it’s working is to look at the analytics Ingage provides on the platform. Sales leaders should be dialing into the data on a weekly basis to see what the top reps are using versus what the lowest performing reps are ignoring. Taking these detailed reports, we can then see what’s really working and coach to that through those microgains I mentioned earlier. When you dig into the data, you can actually use it to make the presentation better and oftentimes, more clear and professional.

Ingage: What do you think makes a rep or a company successful when using Ingage?

Dave: The most successful teams I’ve worked with have built a dynamic partnership between sales and marketing leadership. The playbook that I use with clients always includes this kind of bridge building because it is essential to getting the most out of not just Ingage, but every tool your team is using to leverage sales. When sales and marketing teams work together on Ingage content and the sales process, I’ve found that the reps get better training and a deeper understanding of how the presentation fits into the in-home appointment. Marketing has great content that is used on the web and in beautiful brochures, why not use this great content to create great presentations? When two teams work together, it provides for a better presentation, helping to drive better utilization of Ingage and also making the entire experience more enjoyable.

Ingage: Is there any one success story you like to tell when talking about the platform?

Dave: I’ve worked with so many companies now, but one I think about a lot is Richmond Window Company. Their sales leader was sold on using Ingage, he just needed some help in gathering the content, pictures and videos to create a great presentation. To solve this, I brought together the Ingage team, my recommended designer and his team of sales leaders, top performing sales reps and marketing. Over several weeks reviewing before and after pictures, examining their sales approach, installation videos and doing a thorough inventory to examine their great marketing content, they developed a great presentation and saw how successful they could be by working together.  

Are you looking to make better connections and drive sales growth with your dealers? Contact Dave Crowell today by visiting today.

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