Getting Past Ecommerce Objections

In this, The Faces of Business, Mike Franz, Founder & CEO, ManufacturingPower, shares his thoughts on getting past ecommerce objections to enable your efforts to expand your business and increase profits.

In this, The Faces of Business, Mike Franz, Founder & CEO, ManufacturingPower, shares his thoughts on getting past ecommerce objections to enable your efforts to expand your business and increase profits.

Mike calls himself an accidental entrepreneur since he did not intend to enter the industrial supply business. He helps manufacturers manage and maintain industrial supply data to help them make better buying decisions.

ManufacturingPower is software that lets manufacturers utilize anonymous data to compare prices and availability of the supplies they need from a neutral third-party perspective.

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Mike started ManufacturingPower when he realized there was no way for manufacturers to compare industrial supply prices. That means manufacturers spend more than they need on tools, fasteners, cleanroom supplies, packaging, and more.

Damon pleasantly welcomes Mike to his show. The host asks the guest about the circumstances leading him to become a manufacturer. Mike tells Damon that it has been his lifelong dream to get “involved in industrial supplies.” Though he initially thought he would be in the NBA, his lack of basketball skills presented challenges. Instead, he went to college for sales and marketing and received a degree in that field. He eventually landed a job in industrial supplies, which has since grown into a successful career.

Similarly, Damon requests the guest to talk about his experience in a sales career. In reply, Mike shares an interesting story. At the company where he worked hard to gain another company’s trust and business, he failed to produce the product and ultimately was fired as a supplier. The guest was devastated by this loss, but his “boss’s boss at the time came up to me, put his arm around me,” and said they were “better off without them as a customer.” The high-level executive was interested in something other than sales. This was a big lesson for Mike and led to his decision to leave the company.

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Damon shows tremendous interest in learning Mike’s perspective on starting ManufacturingPower. Mike discloses that he worked for an OEM company that sold products through distribution. The company sold the same products to ten different companies with different pricing and found it unfair to the end user.

He started ManufacturingPower to democratize the pricing of products for small and midsized manufacturing companies. It aims to sell the same products at similar volumes to 10 different companies but without any commonality in pricing. Through this, Mike sought to level the playing field. He also helps distributors through a mobile app that allows small and midsized manufacturers to find local distributors, pricing, and availability.

Damon highlights the importance of leveling the playing field when purchasing supplies, which can be a high cost for manufacturing companies.

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Anyone who “probably likes driving real fast” might buy a Ford Mustang. Mike explains that the price of the car may vary based on negotiations, and factors such as the buyer’s negotiation skills or relationship with the salesperson can influence the final price.

Damon asks Mike if the latter’s idea of democratization has helped manufacturers beyond pricing. Mike refers to the Covid-19 Shutdown that played havoc on supply chains and the overall business environment. He believes that during such hard times, his software helped his users determine the actual price of products. He did this by working with a team to create an aggregator model to simplify the search for products, especially during the shortage caused by recent events.

The model shows the price, for example, the cost of N95 respirator masks and their availability from local distributors within a certain radius of the customer. The goal is to provide a single source of information for the customer rather than relying on a Google search. The model also aims to drive business to local distributors by connecting them to customers searching for inventory.

Damon asks Mike about objections his customers have raised. The main objection, Mike asserts, to showing list prices is the concern about the margins in a low-margin business. Companies may be worried that making prices visible to customers may lead to a Race to Zero.

However, the buying expectations of customers have changed over the past few years due to the increase in online shopping. Customers expect to be able to see the prices, make a buying decision, and complete the purchase in a seamless process.

Similarly, companies that make the purchasing process more difficult by requiring a credit application, log in, and special pricing setup may face difficulties in converting customers. The easier the purchasing process, the more likely customers will complete the purchase.

Damon comments, “In that price discussion, the Race to Zero is only for those who want to keep going down.”

In addition, Mike believes that transparency in pricing is becoming increasingly important in the industry, and having an easy-to-use platform that makes it simple for customers to purchase what they need is key to meeting their expectations. Distributors who are out of a product can easily find it on other websites, so showing prices on one’s site could be an advantage in helping them win business.

Damon, too, believes that today’s entrepreneurial world is more customer-centric than ever. In the host’s view, the key to industry success is providing a seamless and user-friendly experience for the customers. That means having good content, an easy-to-use website, and removing any obstacles that might prevent them from making a purchase. By doing so, you’ll be able to satisfy your customers’ needs faster than your competitors and, ultimately, build a loyal customer base.

Mike thinks that the advent of technology and the increased usage of cell phones and other devices have dramatically changed how people work and access information. Accessing information and resources in real time has improved productivity and efficiency in many industries. It has also changed the expectations of employees and customers, who now expect quick and easy access to information and resources.

Damon adds that because technology has changed the outlook of a business, the salespeople may need to adjust to support existing customers rather than solely acquiring new ones.

Likewise, e-commerce is a growing trend, and reducing purchase friction leads to increased sales and business growth. The challenge is driving traffic to the website and making it easily discoverable. Distributors are adapting to the trend and finding new ways to reach customers.

While talking about the challenges Mike overcame, he says the biggest challenge is distributors’ unwillingness “to share price and content.” They want to protect that as an asset, which Mike certainly understands.

Damon invites the guest’s comments on what he thinks 2023 has for him in the cabinet. Mike is excited about the upcoming features on his company’s product roadmap. “There are so many cool things that are happening.” The company is conducting a beta test for its AI-powered product and gathering feedback from distributors and end-users. The company has big ambitions and is focused on executing its plans.

Toward the show’s end, Damon thanks Mike for stopping by and illuminating the viewers on getting past ecommerce objections.

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42:39

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

distributors, buying, people, business, supplies, customers, price, product, happening, end user, objections, mike, industrial, talking, company, fast, salespeople, purchase, worked, e commerce

SPEAKERS

Mike Franz, Damon Pistulka

 

Damon Pistulka  00:01

All right, everyone, welcome once again, we are here. The face is a business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am excited for our guests today because we got Mike Franz, here today from manufacturing power talking to us about getting past e commerce objections. Welcome. Welcome, Mike.

 

Mike Franz  00:21

Damon, thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here. Can’t wait to chat with you and chat about some fun stuff.

 

Damon Pistulka  00:30

Yeah, real good, real good. Well, Mike, you know, we always like to start the show off, kind of similar. So let’s, let’s go back aways. Tell us a bit about Mike. How did you end how you kind of ended up where you are today?

 

Mike Franz  00:47

Oh, boy. Okay, so where did how did I? How did I come up and get into this crazy industry? manufacturing, industrial supplies all that stuff? Yeah. Well, first of all, it’s been a lifelong dream to get involved in industrial supplies. I’ll tell you that. Actually, growing up, growing up, no, I’m somewhat kidding there. But never thought I’d really fall into this line of business. But it’s been a, you know, it’s been a blessing. It’s been, it’s been great. I really enjoy it.

But going back, you know, I always thought I would be in the NBA. You know, but that didn’t quite pan out. I didn’t play basketball growing up. But, you know, a 510 guy that’s like me can’t jump isn’t very fast and can barely dribble with his left hand that presented challenges when it yeah, when it came to that dream. But yeah, you know, I went to college to be in sales and marketing and got a degree in that and just kind of fell into industrial supplies as a as a job. And it’s kind of grown from there.

 

Damon Pistulka  01:59

Cool. Cool. So looking back over the history of your sales career, what are some of the things that stood out? There you go, man, I never thought I would be in this situation, selling stuff.

 

Mike Franz  02:17

Oh, man, that’s a that’s a that’s a good question. And there’s a story that I always tell but you being in a situation. I’m not going to use any names. But I will tell you the story. At a at a past company that I worked at, which was a lot of fun. But ran into a lot of challenges. It was actually a OEM of particular particular components that we made.

And I had worked for years to go through all sorts of audits through a particular company to actually gained their business, their trust in their business. And within six months, we were failing as far as producing the product that we had signed up to, we want some business and then we started failing to, to actually provide the product. And due to that, that company came up and actually fired us as a supplier.

And I was completely devastated like this was, it was a lot of hard work that just kind of went down the tubes. Yeah. And at the end of that meeting, my boss at the time, my boss’s boss at the time came up to me put his arm around me and he said, Look, we’re better off with without them as a customer. And I said, you have got to be kidding me. I worked my butt off for four years to get this business. And you’re telling me that because we failed, that we’re better off without them.

And it was a significant contract that we’d signed. And I literally went back into my office threw my computer against the wall. And and basically, that was the end of my time at that company. Self chosen end of time there. But that was a that was a huge lesson. I never thought I would hear that from a, a very high level person within in a company. And, you know, that was a that was a huge learning experience for me. For many reasons, but yeah, never ever thought I’d be I never thought I’d be in that situation.

 

Damon Pistulka  04:34

Yeah. Wow. That’s something. You think about executives in a company and they’re saying, well, we don’t want those sales. It’s an end. Taking that much effort to get there you think before then you would have known that? Yeah,

 

Mike Franz  04:51

there was there was a lot of things that could have probably happened in a different way and my favorite but yeah, great learning experience. And you know what, that’s it The reason I was like go back and think about that is because I, you know, learning from your mistakes and learning from those types of something, you know, those failures is something that I’ve tried to carry carry through the you know, since then, and I know now, yeah, yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  05:17

good stuff. So let’s fast forward a little bit. So you are now foreign manufacturing Power Five years ago been working in there to help industrial supply distributors and the people that use their products kind of marry up better. Let’s talk about that a little bit. Because I really think this is an interesting story. And then we can talk about getting past ecommerce objections, because I think it’s gonna tie together wonderfully.

 

Mike Franz  05:48

Yeah. So back when Kennedy the idea of manufacturing power was developed, I was working for another OEM company that sold through distribution. And the idea was to basically democratize the same products and the pricing of the same products at volume type levels. So what I mean by that is, we would go to 10 different small midsize manufacturing companies and sell the exact same product to those companies at similar volumes, and we would grab pricing out of the air, and we would just throw it out and see if it stuck. And there was no there was no commonality, that pricing.

And I thought that was kind of unfair to the end user or the small midsize manufacturer, that if they you know, if they knew that the guy down the street was paying 30% less than them, they would might they might want to know that. Yeah. So that’s how manufacturing power developed.

And to kind of level the playing field when it came to that. And there’s, you know, those are those are some of the things that started manufacturing power. But and now we’re we’re in the process of helping distributors as well, as far as identifying local distribution through a mobile app that allows small midsize manufacturers to really be able to find these distributors, these local distributors find pricing availability at local distribution, which is, which is pretty exciting stuff for us, too.

 

Damon Pistulka  07:35

Yeah. Well, it is they distributors aren’t the best that marketing themselves, they’re really good at moving product.

 

Mike Franz  07:45

Yeah, no doubt.

 

Damon Pistulka  07:46

And that’s, that’s good. I’m going back to this, what you’re talking about leveling the playing field, I really, really, it’s an interesting thing to think about. Because, you know, if you are using supplies, whatever it is, and I mean supplies can is is a huge cost in a lot of manufacturing companies. And if you’re saying that there’s a lot of flexibility, I shouldn’t say flexibility. But there’s a lot of price differential.

So if I’m buying 10,000 of this, and I’m company A and I’m paying $1, and I’m buying 10,000 of this and company B and I’m paying $1.25 or 95 or 85. And we’re not seeing that across the board. You’re right, that’s I didn’t realize that existed. As much as you’re saying it did. I thought basically, you know, you, hey, I’m going to buy this from from company X distributor X, and I’m going to get it out. If I’m at quantity, I’m gonna get it pretty close to the same price of the person down the street. So

 

Mike Franz  08:48

yeah, I’ve been I’ve been taking the that example, you know, 30% higher, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But, you know, in in some cases it is that higher and higher. Yeah. But, yeah, I mean, to level the playing field. I mean, I look at it like, you know, many times I’ll use cars as an example. So you go into one dealership, you’re looking at a Ford Mustang, and I don’t know, you’re probably you probably like driving real fast. I can just tell by talking with you. You go and you’re looking at a Ford Mustang and from one dealership and they got the sticker price on there.

And then you do the negotiation and you get it down, you know, five grand, let’s just say that. Then you go to the next dealership, and you know, they give you it for 6500 off the sticker price. And it’s like it’s kind of the same deal. Yeah, well, if your negotiation skills are good, you get a better price. If you’re buddies with the sales guy, you’re gonna get even a better price. It’s all that kind of stuff that comes into play. So you know, just kind of a just kind of example. that everybody can kind of relate to.

 

Damon Pistulka  10:01

Yeah, yeah. And that is in me driving fast. Yeah, that’s why I don’t have cars that go fast anymore. Or motorcycles. That’s worse. Oh, boy. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Careful now. Yep. When you when you have to figure out how fast each one of your vehicles goes, that’s not a good place to be. My world. So, yeah, that combined with wide open spaces, it tends to be fun, but it’s not healthy. Yeah. So. But anyway, so we’re talking about leveling the playing field.

Another thing that I’ve seen as, as I’m looking through the the products and the services, the way you guys are doing it, you mentioned another thing, it’s finding the products you need. So that is a is a big thing for manufacturers, especially, you know, if you’re, if you’re in the maintenance, or you’re in a design, and you’re looking for certain kinds of things that you need there to. So what are you seeing that this democratization and giving people this information is really helping manufacturers to do beyond price?

 

Mike Franz  11:09

Yeah, well, I mean, just to speak, from our personal experience. So like, over the last two years, we all know what’s happened over the last few years with the disaster of things that have happened. But one of the biggest things, obviously, was supply chain and being able to find product. And our customers and potential customers came to us and said, hey, you know, it’s great to think about pricing, but we need stuff, we need to find things and we need when we need them, we need them.

You know, we don’t want to have a line down situation when we need product, we can’t find it. How do we how can we how can we do that. So I worked with a bunch of people that are much smarter than me on developing something that shows price and availability from local distribution. So we we tried to find a way to work with local distributors to see what their their their published price is. And if they have it in stock, and we put it into one, we we call it an aggregator model, we aggregated all those distributors.

And we put them in one location so that if somebody searches for a widget or an N 95 Mask, let’s say, you know, unfortunately, everybody knows what an N 95 mask is now, a respirator if they’re searching for that, they go, they have a single source, or place to look, instead of going to like a Google search, which will show you places in Arizona places, places down in Florida, in a pay to play type of environment where we just wanted to simplify that search for small midsize manufacturing comes to any type of manufacturer maintenance person, whoever to say, Okay, I need those n 95 masks.

And we said, okay, who’s within 100 miles of that person’s phone? What distributors are within that, that radius? And who’s got it? And how much is it? And then they can go search that they’re connected to their websites, and they go there and can make those e commerce type of purchases? So we’re kind of driving business to the local distributors as well, when they have inventory?

 

Damon Pistulka  13:36

Yeah. Yeah. And allows your allows your customers to get the product they want faster? Yeah.

 

Mike Franz  13:43

That’s the That’s the bottom line, we’ve tried to make it as easy for the end user as possible to, to, we say search, find, by search, find, search it, find it, make that purchase from a local distributor, somebody that they trust.

 

Damon Pistulka  13:59

Yeah, real good, real good.

 

Mike Franz  14:02

But that’s, you know, instead of doing, you know, talking about our stuff, but that was, you know, that was the common concern over the last couple of years and into today, as far as the supply chain, and, you know, where can we find things it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily matter where they get it from, it’s just, hey, we need to find industrial in our case, in our case, industrial supply products that that fit their needs. And that was that was it is continues to be a challenge.

 

Damon Pistulka  14:44

Yeah, yeah. Well, and as we talked about this now, I mean, it’s gonna become relevant. Why we’re gonna talk about getting past e commerce objections because of objections, because when when you went out to do this And you started talking to these local distributors. And this is why we want to talk about this. Because I think if you’re a distributor listening to this, this is going to be a very relevant conversation for you to write down a couple couple notes here.

Because everybody is looking to grow beards grow their business. Maybe someone’s not, but the vast majority of us are, yeah. So when you went out there, and you said, Hey, distributor person, I have this thing that will put you together with more more customers allow you to be found easier and not in the pay to play standpoint. Yep. What are some of the objections that you heard from them? And why they wouldn’t want to do that? Yeah, the number

 

Mike Franz  15:53

one objection is showing there their list price, they want to put up many times they’ll want to put up some sort of some sort of paywall or or make it more difficult for the end user to actually access that that visibility. And, you know, I have my opinions about that. But it’s, it’s that and it’s a concern about the Race to Zero as far as as far as margins in a in a low margin business in many cases.

Oh, yeah. And, and I certainly understand that the concern about pricing and showing that but there’s, there’s a couple of things that have come to light. And over the last couple of years, one is the just because many people in procurement positions were sitting at home over the last two years.

And their their buying expectations have changed a little bit, you know, you have the you got Amazon out there where you can you go on there, you search the product, you see the price, and you make that purchase? Well, that there are other aspects of the b2b sales cycle, obviously, or the sales process that we know about.

But the expectation from the end user is that and it’s like, Okay, do I want to buy from somebody where I can go on their website, I see the price, I make the buying decision, I click the button, and it’s done. And it’s shipped to me that day. Yeah. Okay, that’s pretty easy. That’s awesome. Or do I go on their website, I’ve got to fill out a credit application, I’ve got to wait three days for that credit application to be approved, I need to log in, I need to set up special pricing.

I need to do all this and that. And with all those obstacles to overcome to make a purchase of a $20 item. And, and what you need to get it to your facility to avoid a line down situation. Yeah. You know, what do you get? What’s that? What’s happening there? So it’s the what we have seen is that the user experience taking down those buying walls and making it a lot easier for a potential customer to make that purchases is huge. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Damon Pistulka  18:39

And I think the one of the things that I think and we’ve we’ve got a couple of clients that have been in generic e commerce categories, and one of them is generic is office supplies. Sure. You know, everybody goes online and buys office supplies. Yep. But I can tell you, you can create a business that’s got 10s of millions of dollars in revenue and profitable selling office supplies today, against the big guys and everything else.

And you have to show your price when you’re on Amazon and Walmart and everything else, and you’re just not the lowest price every time. But you’re not always. In that price discussion, the Race to Zero is is only for those who want to keep going down. Yeah, yeah. You know, and yeah, and it’s temporary, because the race is zero that you’re talking about is let the people do that if they want to. They won’t be there long.

 

Mike Franz  19:33

Yeah. And that brings up such a good point. Jamin is that not and just based off my experience is that many of the distributors have been saying for many years, okay, we don’t sell on price. We try to create value. And we do so many other things that go beyond price to show our customers value.

Well, I think this is the time aim to actually not to actually, to where you can enhance that value. Yep. Where, okay, you’re the and part of that value is making the user experience in that buying experience better for the end user. So you make that a little bit better and easier. But then when they do have questions about, oh, I’m looking at this, I need this widget to make this particular process more efficient.

And they say, oh, you know, what I was on, distributor X’s website, they were super easy to deal with. They had a great website, they had a great ecommerce website, they had tons of information on there, great content, I’m gonna call those guys and see what their experts say about this particular product. Yeah. And I just think that’s the, the path to, again, just my opinion, what do I know, but just a path to showing that additional value to those to those of us or customers?

 

Damon Pistulka  21:03

Yeah, I agree. I agree as well, I think the the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what people are buying, it can be cars, industrial supplies. But whatever you think off Amazon, you may or may not like the fact. But everybody wants to be able to get on find the price, research the product, find the price buy the stuff now.

 

Mike Franz  21:29

Yep. Yeah, and here’s one other point too, is that I’m just doing some some research and being in the industry for like, 20 years, there’s, there’s some common things that happen. So let’s just say up here in the Twin Cities, there’s 10 different distributors that industrial supply distributors, they have many different unique product lines, but then they have many common product lines that vary.

And, and they all have their their own customers. But when distributor A is out of a 3am and 95 Mask, they have an account set up with the other distributors and can go on their website and make that purchase to satisfy their customer. And it happens all the time. So you know, showing price, I mean, anybody can find it any if they if they, you know, if they really want to find it, they’re gonna find it anyhow. And yeah, that’s just that’s just kind of a fact.

 

Damon Pistulka  22:28

Yeah. And I think when it comes back, again, to servicing the customers, I mean, it is about servicing customers, right? It’s absolutely I need it, I need it in this timeframe, I want to pay a reasonable price for it. And, and beyond that, it’s like, there are these things, it’s easy to buy from them. Wherever ever problem, it’s easy to get it resolved.

You know, those are still the things that companies have to do for sure. But the less the more frictionless. You can make the buying process, I can find it easy. I can get get what I want when I want. And if I need help I get the help. I want those, the combination is what really makes things happen.

Totally. And you can see that even when you’re we even when you’re doing high volume, stuff on Amazon, and good Amazon sellers know, it’s not just about being the cheapest price, it’s about it’s about getting good reviews, because you respond to customer problems, you help them when they need it. You do provide that extra you answer the questions when people have questions, then do those kinds of things around it, because that creates the confidence in buying from you.

Yeah, and like you’re saying you’re talking about, it can be the same mask and I’m buying from I can buy from 10 different distributors. But if the if Mike’s place is the one that’s that’s always helps us out, gives us what we need, when we need it got good product. Even if you don’t have it today, and I have to go someplace else to get it. I’ll come back to you tomorrow when you do have it and get it.

 

Mike Franz  24:00

Absolutely. And I don’t you know that? That’s the that’s the way I buy stuff. Yeah. I mean, it’s, you get a good experience from some place, you remember it and you want to buy from them again. And the pricing aspect of it is it’s, it’s, to me, it’s a that’s something that’s been ingrained a little bit. So I don’t know. But anyway, it’s, it’s definitely it’s definitely an interesting time to be, you know, with with in manufacturing and industrial supplies that support that industry.

There’s, you know, there’s so much tech awesome technology that has been incorporated into making parts and There’s so much there’s so much history with that so and the way that the business operates and the way industrial supply distributors have accommodated that? Well, there’s, it’s just been done that way for so long. But it’s very cool that things are things are slowly, slowly changing as well in in the mindset of how of how, or what the end user customers is demanding. So it’s critical

 

Damon Pistulka  25:33

that the thing that they see is happening as well to that I think that companies are beginning to realize is whether we like it or not the buying group, the buying, the people that are buying are younger than they were 10 years ago, whatever we’re working through these generations, right.

And the people that are buying now, they’re young, they grew up with a phone in their hand, they grew up with Amazon, they grew up in a lullaby like this, you know, people my age, I can still remember having to call somebody up to buy something, right? That just doesn’t happen anymore. And we have to all throughout whatever business we’re in, you really have to understand who your buyers are better and how they want to buy.

And the honestly, the people in manufacturing are buying, don’t have time to buy. They don’t have enough time to buy. And even years ago, when we were in, I was running contract manufacturing places in sheet metal and CNC machining, one of the things that was would would get you business that a lot of people didn’t think about is, if I can take that problem off their desk faster than anyone else. I can probably charge a little bit more.

 

Mike Franz  26:43

Yes, yep. No, no, that’s that’s so true.

 

Damon Pistulka  26:47

And it still is true today. Yep. So when you look at the whole thing you’re talking about with with, with your solution, manufacturing power, and how you guys are putting the two together. And then you look at your distributors, you go, okay, get good content, get the easy website to buy from, like you said, don’t have to set up an account. If you got a credit card, you can give us your address, and we’re going to ship it to you. Right, yeah, and be ready to do that. Because you just solve that problem faster than somebody else will hear

 

Mike Franz  27:17

to that point. That’s that’s such a good point. And when you said, you know, people are getting younger and younger, we all, you know, factor life, obviously. But there’s another change that has developed over the last couple years. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. But I don’t shop floors, you know, there was there was a long time where it was when cell phones were coming in to the equip which I remembered all this stuff.

But when cell phones were starting to come in and gaining popularity and usage and all that stuff, there wasn’t you know, there was a lot of companies that didn’t allow cell phones out on the shop floor. Yeah. And now it’s just like, well, we can’t even stop it like the tidal wave has come in, and we can’t even stop it. So people have cell phones out on the floor. And if if, if the people that are out on the floor, are so used to being able to use that as a resource.

There’s a lot of things that can be impacted by that from, you know, from, hey, I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to improve my speeds on this machine. Maybe there’s something on YouTube, I can check to see if I can improve the process. And they’re sitting there getting a tutorial on that exact process while they’re sitting at their machine. And they just improve that process time and save the company a ton of money. Well, there’s other opportunities, and I’m just making these examples. Yeah, but it’s like, that’s, that’s where things are, have started to evolve to go into so.

 

Damon Pistulka  28:52

And again, you’re solving the problem faster. Because if you can develop an app or whatever that’s on a phone, and we go listen, this is what this is how we buy our stuff, because it makes it faster for us. They can they can be wherever they’re at, they can be walking out to an area, they go, oh, we need this. Let’s see where we can get it

 

Mike Franz  29:09

or remember. So it’s not too many years ago, actually where everybody had the big giant books on their desk. You know, you’d have the green book, you’d have the Red Book, you’d have the blue book, and the red, white and blue book and you’d leave through and there was so many people in like a maintenance role that would they would they would have the green book would be memorized. So you could go again, not mentioning any names.

Yeah, we talked about. So the green book, you’d go oh, I need I need. I need a bear. I need a 6208 bearing. And you’d go up to the guy in the shop and you’d say Hey, Joe, you know what page is that on? You go Oh 7400 Look in the second column on the right. You out, you know, and you’d go there and you go, Oh my God, there’s that bearing that we need to look it up. You’ve made the phone call. You got this in stock? No, you got this in stock? Yes. Okay, let’s buy it from them. So just efficiency improvement. It’s pretty cool. I love it.

 

Damon Pistulka  30:16

Yeah, it is it is. So as you’re looking at the objection, we talked about showing the list price on online, and we talked about the race for zero. So let’s, we’re talking about objections. But now what are you seeing as people get over the objections and start to embrace it? What are you actually hearing when people do that?

 

Mike Franz  30:43

Wow, that’s a really good question. So I, what I’m what I’m seeing what I’m hearing, is that there from do you mean from a distributor standpoint or from

 

Damon Pistulka  31:00

distributors? Because they’re the ones with the objections, were sitting here saying we shouldn’t do this or that. But then when they get over that objection, and they actually start, start using E commerce putting their prices online, doing the content, doing the whole nine yards? What what do they really see happening?

 

Mike Franz  31:16

Well, it’s, uh, they’re seeing gains in their online sales. Okay, they’re seeing gains in their online sales. But in our, in our limited research that we’ve done, okay, over the last, you know, year or so of collecting some of this data is that not only are their sales increasing their online sales increasing, but they’re actually setting goals and targets to meet different goals.

So they’re trying different things, and they’re becoming, you know, innovators to a certain extent and industry leader. So, you know, the, I guess the most common thing is that if they do embrace that, that ease of use, they’re gaining new customers, they’re finding new opportunities. And it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s leading to not only new customers, but growing business within existing customers as well.

So yeah, and, you know, we get a lot of data and research from data, help manage data, distributor data systems, distributor data solutions, DDS, I believe it’s called, and, and their data consistently shows that I mean, in E commerce scenarios, if you have, if you, if you smooth out and reduce the friction to make those purchases, and have a quality website, good quality e commerce website, a quality, quality content that’s on there. It only it only helps, it only helps there’s no, there’s not a downside. Now the challenge is, is getting people to the website.

Yeah. And becoming findable. And, you know, from distributors that we that we deal with there. It’s it’s a learning, it’s definitely a learning process on how to how to do that. Because, you know, so many have on the road salespeople that go door to door and do that type of thing, where it’s a little bit of a shift of how do we how do we drive people to the website, so that we can realize some of those numbers? So I don’t know if that answered your question.

 

Damon Pistulka  33:47

Really is because they’re seeing they’re increasing their sales, they’re seeing that and you make another good point, it does require some different thoughts about how our salespeople actually work, because you can have a fleet of salespeople that are out there talking to people every day. And you know, what do you do if a if somebody comes in from the web?

Or what is the role of the salesperson anymore? If you could, if you can snap your fingers tomorrow, and then there are plenty of people coming through the web and maybe your salespeople don’t have to go out and talk to new people, they talk to people that already know you but need some help. You know, it’s just that I think it’s a different way of looking at it like you said,

 

Mike Franz  34:27

Yeah, and look salespeople, there’s always going to be a role, obviously. Oh, yeah, there’s there’s and there’s so much value that salespeople bring to to an organization. I’m not saying anything against that. No, but but there’s, it’s like an addition.

Okay, what you know, what was I there was a podcast, I was either a podcast or something. I was some sort of something I was looking at an article or something where it equated a Uh, some of these new types of processes to win way back in the day when everybody found what they were looking for in the local newspaper. And it was like, Okay, we, I go into the newspaper and I find the industrial distributor that’s in in my town. Okay, there they are. And that’s how people used to do that. Well, then, TV came along, and TV commercials.

Oh, boy. Okay, now I know, there’s three because there’s TV commercials for that. I didn’t even know they were there. I’m gonna start calling these guys. Well, you know, it’s kind of a that evolution as well. And I’m not saying anything that’s groundbreaking or anything like that. But it’s just, it’s an evolution to the sales and marketing process, that distribution is, you know, either they embrace it, or, you know, they decide to go in a different

 

Damon Pistulka  35:54

direction. Yeah. So what’s been the most interesting challenge for you, as you guys have tried to marry the the end users of these industrial supplies together with the distributors?

 

Mike Franz  36:06

Um, challenge is kind of overcoming what we just talked about, as far as the biggest challenge that we see is the distributors willingness to share price and content. Because you know, that they want to protect that as an asset, which I I certainly understand. I certainly understand. And that’s been you know, that’s, that’s the challenge that we that we try to overcome every single day. And there’s yeah, there’s ones that have embraced the change. And once they choose to go in a different direction.

 

Damon Pistulka  36:46

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. So as you’re looking forward, what’s exciting year for 2023?

 

Mike Franz  36:56

Oh, man. Well, I have such as you can tell, I’m talking about our business the entire time, but apologize about but, man, I am so jazzed up for things that we have coming up on our product roadmap that is really designed for, for end users and distributors to to kind of marry that you keep going like this, which I love that, like we’re what we’re trying to marry a married Yes. To even more. This, we’re in the midst of a beta test for our No, no, this is a little product placement here.

But yeah, we’re in the middle of wherever, in supply with an AI, we’re in the process of a beta test for that right now. We’re collecting feedback from distribution and from end users as far as how that’s working out. But it’s a we’re, there’s so many cool things that are happening with that we’ve got big ambitious goals. And I’m so like this right now, as far as get the blinders on to, yeah, to try and execute on that. So what Yeah, it’s,

 

Damon Pistulka  38:07

it’s fun that you gotta it’s gotta be fun, because you’re helping people. In the end, you’re helping them get, like you said, get the products you need, when you need and take the friction out of buying things so that that people can get the industrial supplies quickly, at a reasonable price and move on about their day. And that’s something that everyone’s going to want it that’s what that’s what we’re all striving for. It’s stuff we need, get on with our day and do what we want to do. So it’s good stuff. And afterward, if someone wants to reach out to you about this, Mike, what’s the best way to get ahold of you? The

 

Mike Franz  38:43

best way is I’m constantly on LinkedIn and trying to network with people and trying to see what what are the latest and greatest things that are out there? I mean, there’s so on. LinkedIn has been I think that’s how we met. In fact, I know that’s how we met Yes, um, LinkedIn is is great. You can look me up Mike Franz. Very good LinkedIn, my email just as Mike at manufacturing power.com And those are probably the two best ways

 

Damon Pistulka  39:15

There you go. There you go. Well, I tell you what, Mike, thanks for stopping by today because I really this is this getting over these ecommerce objections. It doesn’t objections, it doesn’t matter if it’s, we’re talking today about industrial supply distributors.

But you know, we talked about this with manufacturers, OEM manufacturers, you talked about this with contract manufacturers, you know, and what is happening and it is because you said the buying expectations are changing, continuing to change and do it and people are expecting to be able to buy things right now if they can, and if you can’t do it, they might jump to the next place to get it so it really is is not a nice to buy He must have kind of thing. And it’s just getting more and more that way every day. And it’s great seeing you help them.

 

Mike Franz  40:06

Well, David, I appreciate that very much the I mean, one last thing as far as that goes, I mean, if it just popped into my head, and there’s so many times that I try to kind of relate our stuff to people, if when was the last time that you bought an airplane ticket? And how did you go about doing that? Yeah, I mean, you go on Kayak, you go on Priceline, you go on any of those places, and they’ve got you they got all the different carriers, price. Got all that stuff. You choose one Bam, done, make the purchase and you’re out the door. So there’s so many other markets and areas that works in and

 

Damon Pistulka  40:51

it’s just it is you’re helping the industrial supply distributors in this area. We’ve seen things on when you look at if I’m a, like a sheet metal fabrication place, I saw it a few months ago, where you literally can drop your your drop your design, and you get a quote, instantly. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yes, it’s not for somebody, that’s once 14 million of those things.

But listen, most people, they’re just they’re looking for a reasonable price and get and get an idea. But if I want that thing, and I want it and I need it fairly quickly, or I need to, I need some pricing for reference to my later whatever it is. Yep, that piece is is is really important. Huge. And, you know, I look at there’s so many different applications out there that by using, you know, just being able to make the process easier, is such a huge thing. And if you’re the one that makes it easier, I think that’s you’re gonna win in the end.

 

Mike Franz  41:51

It’s just I mean, you just mentioned that I mean, the technology and the focus, like on that specific example. How cool is that? I mean, yeah, I mean, you can you can put in the specs of what you’re looking for, you can submit a drawing or whatever, and you get something like that. And it’s just, I get so pumped up about it, because that’s the technology portion of it is really driving that simplicity and that ease of use, which is where

 

Damon Pistulka  42:19

Yeah, I just Yeah, so good. So good. Well, Mike, thanks for being here today. Steve. Appreciate you stopping by. Absolutely. Thanks, everyone for listening today. We’re gonna shut her down for now. We’ll be back again next week. Mike, hang out for a moment and thank you so much. Thanks, everyone.

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