Growth in technology and the insights it provides is one of the most significant changes in the distribution industry over the past 30 years.
And it’s those insights that allow distributors to make well-informed decisions leading to profit growth, said Brian Friedle — a 24-year veteran in the industry and epaCUBE’s new Vice President of Sales.
“When I started in this industry, pricing optimization was unheard of,” Friedle said, recalling that distributors used to have “biddle books,” giant notebooks with vendor product pricing information inside. “Today, you can dive into your data and understand what’s truly going on in your company.
“You can use software to analyze it and move decision-making from emotion-based to data-based.”
Prior to joining epaCUBE in March, Friedle was the Vice President of Business Development for a revenue intelligence software company servicing the wholesale distribution industry. Friedle said another significant change in the industry is how much tougher it can be for distributors to carve out a place in the market.
“Distributors used to be essential to manufacturers to reach their customer base. Today with the internet, customers and manufacturers can find each other. You can find products, stock, pricing, even YouTube videos on how to install products. How does a distributor continue to justify their profit margin? Evolving is a constant challenge.”
Friedle said juggling that evolution is among the many reasons savvy distributors need to find clever solutions, such as pricing optimization. Pricing optimization involves analyzing distributor sales data to find the optimal price point for products and services. It’s essential to attracting and retaining customers, maximizing sales, and increasing profits — and it’s the topic of Friedle’s upcoming webinar, “Pricing Optimization. Worth Prioritizing?”
We sat down with Friedle to chat about his industry experience and new role at epaCUBE ahead of this can’t-miss webinar.
You’ve been in this business for 24 years. What’s one of the most significant challenges you’ve faced?
When I first took over as president of a distribution company years ago, we grew 30% in the first year. Great, right? What I didn’t expect was how that would impact my cash flow. I had to make some tough decisions and figure out how to find money for things like payroll and inventory. I learned about the relationship between growth and cash the hard way through the school of hard knocks. It was tough, but I am grateful for that experience.
You recently joined epaCUBE as Vice President of Sales. What do you like best about the new role?
Everyone comes together and works really hard — there’s no such thing as, “That’s not my job.” We have a great product that’s easy to believe in and makes a big difference for our customers. I get the opportunity to impact thousands of distributors. It’s fun to be a part of that.
What makes epaCUBE unique from similar businesses?
Many software companies’ main goal is to acquire new customers. Once they have a customer, they walk away. epaCUBE has internal goals to ensure their customer base gets a certain amount of ROI – and that drives us internally. We believe in our customer base getting exactly what they’re looking for, and we’ll stay as long as it takes. We support them from start to finish, from training to riding shotgun to empowering them to be successful on their own.
What advice would you give other salespeople?
The sexiness of sales went out the window a while ago. Distributors are selling all day long, and they’re being sold to all day long. If you want to connect with distributors, you have to be one of them. You have to understand them. Leave the sales persona at home. Talk to them like you’re sitting on a barstool chatting with a buddy over a beer. They’re intelligent people. Just make a regular connection.
The technology evolution can be overwhelming. Why is it important?
The tech exists to examine data and get insights into what’s going on in your company. That data shows you, “Hey, do more of this because it gets you these results.” And that’s what our software is really good at. It’s tied into this notion of visibility. If your competition is using technology, you’re already behind. If they’re not, you have an opportunity to gain an advantage.
And how does that relate to pricing optimization?
Our software is based on the concept that similar customers buying similar products should pay similar prices. How do you group them together? What price is reasonable to charge? It’s in your data. Our software is really good at pulling this information out in a way that is intuitive and usable.
How is epaCUBE different from other pricing optimization software packages?
Many pricing optimization software companies are black boxes. The mechanism behind how their software works isn’t visible. You put the data in, turn the crank, and it spits out an answer. We know that there is almost always context. So, our software is a glass box. You can see the choices that give you the desired results. You can believe in your choices. There’s visibility so you can control your own destiny.
You hosted a webinar on April 27th
Most distributors have a limited amount of time and resources to commit to technology improvement projects. How do you choose what to work on? Where can you get the most bang for your buck? There are only so many ways you can make more money in a distribution company. We will examine them and discuss factors like how much of an impact, how fast, and how much of a time commitment. When we examine those, we’re going to clearly see that pricing optimization is a solid choice. Once you implement it correctly, pricing optimization will change your company culture and even pay for your other projects. What’s not to like?