SEMA Member News—July/August 2013
Sales, Data, Value: MRN and SDC Collaborate to Offer Training
By now you have likely heard about the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC), which officially launched its full production system April 1 after a year-long beta phase. Open to all suppliers and receivers, this information repository makes the development, safe storage and universal export of industry product data simple and affordable for all members. It makes updating and maintaining information easy for suppliers and is a source of multiple brands of product data in standard or customized formats for customers.
More than 340 companies have joined the SDC since its launch, and membership is still growing at a rapid pace. Whether you already have a system in place to organize your data or need a little help getting started, the SDC is right for you. It may sound a little intimidating at first, but an expert help desk ensures that live training and technical assistance are available if you get stuck.
The SDC is especially helpful for members of SEMA’s Manufacturers Representative Network (MRN), according to SDC Director of Membership Jim Graven. The information available to representatives through the Co-op offers sales opportunities.
“MRN members can assist their suppliers with new product additions, content building and even receiver-specific data requests,” Graven said. “They can use their load sheet knowledge to ensure a good fit between their suppliers and receivers. For the MRN, we relieve the burden of customer-specific load sheets for every new part number and allow you to spend more time assisting with content building and enriching a supplier’s data set.”
This data is critical for MRN members in their goal of helping customers grow their sales year after year. This is only possible with correct data, which gives exposure to new products and reduces the number of returns due to wrong products being sold.
Vic Bennett, an MRN Select Committee member, believes that the MRN has just as much to offer the SDC in return. The MRN plays an important role in facilitating communication between representatives and their customers. Network members become a resource for the SDC, building relationships in the manufacturing community and promoting the available services.
“Looking at the suite of services that manufacturers’ representatives offer to their vendors-suppliers and customers-receivers, being able to successfully facilitate setting up the correct data is critical,” Bennett said. “It is another value-added service that manufacturers’ representatives can offer to both communities to grow their collective business.”
Because MRN values its relationship with the SDC so much, the network has dedicated a task force to identify mutually beneficial partnerships with the SDC. Chaired by Bennett, task force members Mark Adin, Cathy Clark and Bill Eagan are collaborating with the SDC on some exciting new educational opportunities.
The task force has created a web-based educational series in which reps will learn more about what the SDC offers. Over a period of four months, representatives will gain insights into sales effectiveness along with tips about how to utilize and communicate SDC benefits to others.
Participants in the program will spend the first month learning an overview of the SDC and why it is such a valuable sales tool for stakeholders. The second segment will focus on understanding industry data standards, and the third session will cover supplier services. The final segment will provide detailed information about data exports to receivers.
MRN members will have three weeks to complete each section before taking an online quiz covering the information. Following successful completion of the program, SDC-certified members will be recognized at the 2013 PWA Conference. The series will also be available to more representatives in the future.
Utilizing the SDC allows representatives to build in efficiency and add value for suppliers and receivers alike.
“In the current business environment, we are all doing more with less,” said Bennett. “Suppliers and representatives are running everyday business, and we can be that added value for them.”
The bottom line for MRN members is that the more they know about the SDC, the better they can assist their suppliers and receivers.
“Get involved, become certified and facilitate the connections between your customers,” Graven urged, and Bennett agreed. “This is your opportunity to be on the front end of something that will make a difference in the business of your suppliers and receivers,” he said.