Customer Case Study

Industrial Distributor Transforms Reps into Revenue Generators with Proton

August 6, 2023

Annual Revenue

Rolled out with a large industrial supplier's customer service team. Customer service reps using Proton's up-sell/cross-sell program are pacing to generate $115k incremental annual revenue per rep.

The Challenge

A specialty distributor in the Industrial MRO market caters to companies across a vast array of industries, including electronics, aerospace, packaging, and medical. The distributor maintains a deep and versatile product inventory to help meet multiple client needs.

Ironically, the distributor's immense catalog can limit revenue. Sales and customer service employees are only human and don't have the entire company inventory memorized. They also have no way to predict which of hundreds of thousands of niche products customers in different industries will buy.

This challenge is even more acute in the distributor's customer service department. Unlike sales reps who specialize by industry, these customer service reps are generalists who work with all types of customers.

The customer service reps mainly interact with buyers over email. When a customer emails to make a purchase, reps file the request and confirm the order. They handle many requests and work quickly. They are not expected to make pitches because they don't know the nuances of each account.

These reps would generate much more revenue if they could entice customers into spending more. However, because their clients and products span so many different industries, it is ineffective to pitch the same items to all clients.

The distributor's reps had the potential to leverage their correspondences with active buyers into more sales. However, they needed a recommendation engine that could instantaneously scan the entire company catalog and each customer's purchasing profile to identify which items could be successfully sold.

Our Solution

The distributor began using Proton's software and AI dashboard in customer service rep workstations. This allowed reps to transition from order takers into order makers without going through intensive training or radical protocol changes. After years of passively receiving orders, customer service reps were suddenly making proactive pitches.

Customers still reach out to the customer service reps with questions and order placements. Reps still dutifully execute these orders, but they also now take the additional step of pitching a Proton-recommended product when confirming order placements with customers.

Most interactions between customers and customer service reps happen over email. However, Proton's recommendation engine is still easy and quick enough to drive sales during phone calls. In the time it takes for a customer to explain their order, Proton can locate the specific item that the buyer has the highest probability of purchasing, letting reps make effective pitches instantly.

Dashboard Benefits

  • Accurately suggests different product pitches for every customer based on their data
  • User friendly interface drives high user adoption with minimal training
  • Works instantly, enabling better performance on phone calls or emails
  • Enables reps to actively make orders, instead of just passively taking orders

Results and Next Steps

In one two month period, customer service reps actively using Proton generated an average attributed revenue of $9,552 per month, putting the distributor on pace to haul in $115k of purely incremental revenue per rep, per year.

Incremental sales are ideal for distributors because reps are increasing the size of orders that are already being placed. This brings in more revenue without increasing shipping costs or effort.

Increases in rep performance must be measured with attributed revenue instead of total revenue per rep. Any customer service reps can claim some total revenue. However, total revenue merely establishes a baseline of what unaffected customers will spend. In contrast, attributed revenue reflects what revenue order-making reps are capturing that would otherwise have gone unrealized. With Proton, they are capturing quite a lot of that revenue.

"Proton has been a game-changer for our customer service teams. Its product recommendations have dramatically increased sales and turned our customer service reps into revenue generators" - VP of Customer Experience

The distributor will maximize revenue by ensuring that all customer service reps use Proton. Reps already using Proton will also generate more revenue as Proton's AI engine learns from more data and refines its recommendations.

Over the next few months, the distributor will roll out Proton to its broader sales force, marketing teams, and e-commerce platform. Whether it's online, in person, or over email, the distributor will be able to offer buyers items they are likely to buy, further increasing both customer satisfaction and company revenue.

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