In my last post I suggested that an effective distributor is one that sells into the same markets the manufacturer is in. Pretty obvious but not all manufacturers understand the ins and outs of the distributor world. When a manufacturer needs to get their product(s) to market there is a tendency to take the first distributor option available. Beware of that tendency.
In another life I was responsible for finding distributors for a new product line our company created. I was new at this so the process took longer than it should have. Because of budget constraints I did most of the research via networking and calling a variety of distributor groups. I had already established small groups in the northeast and central parts of the country. I was ready to send a contract to a group in California when I asked the owner where his salespeople were located. His answer was, “Tom, we run a very successful call center that touches the mountain states to California.” They had no salespeople on the street. A calamity narrowly avoided.
You can certainly sell things using a call center but it is close to impossible to sustain sales if the end-user can’t see or touch the product, particularly if the product is sophisticated or substantially different from the competition’s product. The distributor salespeople on the street can do the following:
- Observe where the product will be used.
- Deal with objections to the product.
- Compare product differences by way of sight and touch.
- Since over half of communication is physiological (body language etc.) the rep in front of the customer will stand a better chance of closing business.
- Chase down a prospect in person. It’s just too easy to tell a phone rep that the boss is in Fiji for the next 2 year.
A 400 word post doesn’t allow for additional reasons to have distributors on the street but if they aren’t enough here’s an anecdote you can add to the list. Earlier this year I spent two days calling prospects for a client. The prospects were in a mid-east state. Over 25% of these accounts had never heard of my client yet the client had one of the best products on the market. When we made a personal face-to-face call on these accounts the majority of them place their first order. Companies can do mailings and make telephone calls until they’re blue in the face but face-to-face closes more business!