Several weeks ago I started a series of posts on growing a small business. This post will cover the remaining factors in choosing the right distributor.
Distributor salespeople must have the desire to learn the complexities of the manufacturer’s product(s). Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Believe me it does not always happen. Learn the complexities of a product should incorporate:
- Features and benefits
- The competitive products features and products
- Why the prospect buys, i.e. what their needs are
- How to overcome objections
- The costs of not buying the best product
Manufacturer’s need to provide the distributor revenue goals. Why bother and have a distributor if they don’t have sales goals? Meeting expectations is part of business. Why do individual salespeople have sales goals? Because their future depends on it as well as the future of the company. Manufacturer’s have the right to demand that distributors meet sales expectations. If they don’t then the manufacturer has the right to look elsewhere for a distributor. Harsh? No. It’s business.
Give the distributor the right tools to be successful selling your product but then also hold them accountable for how they perform.
Several years ago I had a client who brought on distributors like the N.Y. Yankees go after expensive free agents. In a phrase-fast and furious. Most of the distributors washed out after six months and on several occasions the manufacturer had to do damage control for how some of the sales groups did business. Culture is important when choosing a distributor. Look for:
- The professionalism at the top of the organization
- The kind of people the distributor hires
- The level of customer service
- How long the distributor has been in business
- The types of products the distributor has taken on
- Whether or not the distributor has lost any product lines due to poor performance
Culture compatibility leads to better communication, which leads to a shared vision of performance goals, which leads to success. Easy to state but hard to execute.