December 11, 2012 Leave a Comment
Seems like many B2B brands are challenged with overcoming issues at their distribution level. Those whose business models have relied heavily/solely on distributor sales have two problems.
One, they have no idea who their actual customers are in many cases, and two, if their brand is more expensive and lesser-known (which often means not a consumer brand), distributors are selling the competition.
Short of blaming the distributor or shifting business models into a direct sales approach, these brands are smart to address these challenges in 2013.
Some thoughts on the distributor part of the conundrum:
- Get to know the distributors and repackage your brand’s attributes into language that is meaningful to them. This usually mean $$$, as distributors are salespeople with whom the buck is a universal code.
- Bring distributors onboard with education and team-building around your new outreach initiative, whether it’s funneling them hot leads, enticing them into cross-sell or up-sell programs or influencing them to use your portal for lead tracking.
- Don’t expect them to turn into record-keepers intent on helping you, the manufacturer.
- Don’t expect them to share data, unless they are incented to do so.
- Don’t ask for their current customer records.
- Show them how you can help them make more $$$.
- Partnership takes time and is a real commitment.
- Develop an ongoing communications and relationship strategy to develop and nurture those relationships.
- Structure your internal sales to represent your brand to those distributors. Have your team get to know their client distributors.
10. Tier your distributors. Analyze who’s been the most profitable, cooperative, brand-friendly. And look at where there’s opportunity for better engagement.
More on the not-knowing-your-customers portion of the challenge later.
Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn