PEW discusses the importance of cable management supplier/wholesaler partnerships with Stephen Roberts, Head of Sales at CMD, and Paul Conneely, Business Manager at Edmundson Electrical.
“As an electrical manufacturer, we often work closely with electrical wholesalers to distribute our products into the market and onto key projects,” says Stephen Roberts, “but if we simply treat them like a middle man, we are failing the contractors that install our systems and in turn their clients”. That’s why, investing in nurturing those relationships is so important to both parties.”
When it comes to nurturing the relationship with Edmundson Electrical’s Blackfriars branch in London, CMD has been consistent in leveraging the benefits of collaboration and a shared approach to customer service for more than a decade. CMD has become the Blackfriars branch’s single largest supplier, accounting for a significant proportion of the business’s £20M turnover last year, across CMD’s Betatrak powertrack and Power Hub power distribution systems, floor boxes and accessories, and under desk power distribution modules.
“There is a strong element of solid personal relationships with the CMD team,” explains Paul Conneely, business manager at Edmundson’s Blackfriars. “I have been dealing with the company’s Power Distribution sales manager, Paul Allen for about the past five years, along with area sales managers John Archer and Jason Broughton. I also maintain regular contact with Stephen since he joined CMD five years ago.
“They are very proactive about keeping in touch, whether for a specific project or just to touch base. We have an open dialogue that has developed into a partnership based on trust and, just as colleagues often do, we have become friends as well as business contacts.”
One of the ways in which CMD and Blackfriars add value to the supplier/wholesaler relationship is the close collaboration on large projects that have been specified and will be going to market for procurement.
Stephen continues: “Our team offers technical sales; they are highly experienced electrical professionals who work with M&E consultants to develop the specification and ensure compliance. As a result, we often have the inside track on projects that are coming up and which contractor has been awarded the electrical fit out. By working with a partner like Edmundson’s Blackfriars, we can help them with their business development goals as well as ensuring that we benefit when the project remains true to a CMD specification.
“We know from our close relationship with the Blackfriars team that any project we are working on together will receive excellent service, and that they will work collaboratively with us should any technical support be required. That means we’re confident in giving them the heads up, knowing that it will lead to a smooth supply chain journey and excellent experience of the CMD brand for the contractor.”
The commercial benefits of the relationship work both ways for CMD and Edmundson’s Blackfriars, with the wholesaler’s team prioritising the CMD product when customers have a generic power distribution request, or where switching to CMD could save the customer time and/or money.
Paul explains: “We know the CMD products and the quality and functionality they offer, we also know the level of technical support CMD can provide, and we have a large stockholding so we can offer customers a rapid turnaround on their order, whether they are local to us within the M25 or further afield.
“All of this makes a very compelling case for us to steer the customer towards CMD products and we can often benefit the customer by giving them a sound business case for making the switch. This might involve providing an integrated, single source supply from distribution board to workstation with a complete CMD solution, delivering a five per cent cost saving, and ensuring immediate product supply with reliability of availability.
“Over the past year, availability and lead times have become significant differentiators so offering high quality standards with rapid supply and cost savings is very compelling. It allows us to increase our sales volumes while benefitting both CMD and our customers, many of whom never switch back once they’ve experienced CMD’s products and service.”
Alongside the technical support that CMD offers the sales and customer service teams at Edmundson’s Blackfriars branch, the branch has its own CMD specialist, Chris Frampton, who has the technical knowledge required to advise customers.
“Chris has been trained by the CMD team,” Paul continues, “so he can answer most of the questions customers might ask and provide valuable advice, ensuring they purchase the right combination of products for the specification. Indeed, most of our sales team have had some training from CMD and have visited the company’s showroom in Clerkenwell, which ensures they are more engaged with the product range from both a technical and commercial point of view.”
Thanks to COVID restrictions, followed by a busy period as the electrical fit out market recovers, product demos from CMD have not been as regular as they were in the past at Edmundson’s Blackfriars, but, with a planned move to a new showroom on the horizon, Stephen expects that to change over the coming months.
“Product demos are one of the ways in which we can help wholesaler partners to add value to their customer relationships and offer an integrated service. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to host joint events in the future, either at the Blackfriars branch, or in our new showroom, or both.”
A partnership approach
CMD is not the only supplier that Edmundson’s Blackfriars works with in informal partnership, any more than Edmundson’s Blackfriars is CMD’s only wholesaler partner, but the two companies are evangelical about the shared benefits the relationship brings them.
“In a competitive market, we have to give contractors a clear reason to choose us,” Paul adds. “By working closely with suppliers like CMD, we can provide cost savings and a reliable commitment to short lead times, along with technical knowledge, and a solutions-based approach to sales. We have to do more than simply fulfil orders for our customers; we need to be proactive in developing customer relationships, offering innovative solutions and adding value through knowledge and service.”
Stephen adds: “We work with both major chains and independent wholesalers in a way that leverages the expertise of our team to complement theirs, both commercially and technically. The goal for both us and our wholesaler partner is to develop sustainable customer relationships that lead to repeat business, and that’s what we’ve achieved with Edmundson’s Blackfriars.”
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