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Can dealers emerge stronger in the neo-neo-normal?

With the pandemic, most of the business activities across the globe had come to a halt as several countries closed their airports, ports as well as domestic transportation imposing nation-wide lockdown. This created a disturbance across the civil life as well as the business fraternity. The lockdown in India was one of the longest imposed lockdowns in the world which was done to buffer the scarce availability of healthcare and other necessary resources. The enormity of the lockdown during both the first and the second wave affected the manufacturing activities, the dealers and the supply chains and disrupted the entire economy.

Soon after the country recovered from the first wave, the second wave took its course which was one of the hardest in terms of casualties. It led to further state-imposed lockdown which continued impacting the already-affected economy which was slowly gaining traction. The slowdown in the labour-intensive industries which involves real estate, construction, manufacturing faced serious complications. With the learning from the first lockdown, the dealers and the manufacturers tried to combat the wrath of the second wave but even after the strategic lockdown was easing up, it got difficult to restore to normalcy. Most manufacturers and dealers grappled with the disruptions in their supply chain.

Navigating the circumstances

One of the major inconveniences which the various consumer insights company quoted in their studies was the difficulty in retaining the trained personnel for long when there was no work. Although there were many who tried to introduce short term courses or similar engaging activities that could target the top-level dealer personnel to keep up with some operation related to the company, there was a sincere sense of withdrawal seen amongst many. But, on the other hand, there were some where these kinds of activities helped to create faith and sense of loyalty.

Study from Median Research & Consulting ahead of the second wave of dealers above 45 years and who deal with an average of two branches and single (exclusive) vendors showed that there are a number of challenges which is more than just retaining the trained personnel. A clear and constant shortage of manpower has created a void in not just the business but also forming a state of despair verging on a sense of hopelessness and isolation. Even after about 67% of the surveyed dealers have been vaccinated with their first dose, the second jab is due which is also a contributing factor for the shops being open for a limited time and consequently forming an unsettling condition amongst everyone.

Rising from the chaos

For people and businesses of all kinds, the COVID-19 pandemic has made life immensely more difficult. Despite the efforts of governments, business, scientists, and healthcare professionals, some large markets are still closed in some form, many supply chains are experiencing severe disruptions, and most sectors continue to see low demand. Nobody knows when workers or customers will return with the similar flow.

Most distributors and dealers are in a conundrum. Keeping things as they are could put staff in danger or give ground to suppliers who are increasingly using digital technologies to directly service customers as shows the studies of market research companies in India. Companies are still struggling to deliver value while protecting people’s safety and livelihoods more than six months into the outbreak of the second wave.

In this unprecedented crisis, there are companies which faced sharp drops in revenue because they could not cater to the customers’ demands. The majority of distributors seeing significant drops in demand are in the industries most affected by physical separation and government-recommended isolation requirements. With no partners’ meets at 5-star venues, exotic tours, attractive rewards, family engagements, the perspectives are also shifting. Companies in these areas are just trying to survive a crisis that no one could have predicted, and their survival strategies are becoming considerably more inventive.

As individuals adjust their routines at home and at work, certain sectors that are not directly affected by the epidemic are witnessing a general commercial slowdown or a mild flow of business.

Many companies have taken drastic measures to save costs, avoid supply-chain disruptions, ration supplies among clients, and move to remote selling. This downturn is following a pattern that has been witnessed in the past for several of them. Companies are investing in digital-sales training and online skills as distribution continues to move to e-commerce.

How to work better in the next unlocking?

For many distributors, the strategies that succeeded during earlier recessions are now standard operating procedure. High performers keep costs down while creating war chests, allowing them to move fast to lucrative development as opportunities arise. While the present slump is unusual, the recovery’s shape is undetermined and will most likely vary per sector. Many business leaders are reconsidering their marketing strategies. Today’s crisis could be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sales organisations to transform. Dealers should reorient their field sales staff away from farming accounts and order taking and toward consultative selling and growth.

Implementing fair and square policy with all dealers should be the first concern, what Median research found. Having a fair distribution of corporate and government clients with dealers is also imperative according to the monitoring & evaluation from the experts. Another interesting but vital aspect the dealers are looking for is a proper check on products after 2 years / 5000 hours working to check performance levels to maintain a healthy company-dealer relationship.

Median research is an omni-channel research and consulting house having seamless amalgamation of business strategy, marketing & market research. Visit

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