Saturday, December 8, 2012

Using Distributors for your products

If you are a manufacturer of a product in large amounts, unless you want to go yourself through the hassle of getting it out there and everything that it entails, you will most likely need a distributor.
Doing so will mean that you won’t have to worry about over stock storage, extended sales force, travelling and such.
However, there has always been a bit of a bickering between manufacturers and distributors. Here are a couple of common mistakes and thing to take into account when considering this selling channel.

What’s is it exactly?
A distributor are entities (generally not too large, a couple of branches) that buy stock to then re-sale. They will sometimes choose their market, but most of the time they will be given that instruction by the manufacturer.
They work better for products that do not require technical assistance. The usually deal with products that the customer can take home immediately. If it were, for example, machinery that needs a complex installation by a professional, then selling through a distributor may not be the right choice. The logistics of combining technical service would be far too complicated.

Spreading yourself too thin
A common mistake is to get too many distributors, that way the efforts of selling are useless. Money and time will be better used on the training of the sales force.
Reaching out to too many distributors will result in a lack of background research for each of them. Often times, the distributors are run by people that don’t pay enough attention to detail and are, for example, under stocked. This will, indirectly, damage your image since customers will look for your product where it’s expected to be and by not finding it they will blame you, not the store.

Providing a helping hand
Distributors sometimes lack a powerful sales force. A good way to manage this is to, as manufacturers, offer extensive training on the products. If the cost of getting the people into your premises is high, you should at least develop a program for them to be trained at their own stores.
Another mistake made in marketing efforts. If the distributor needs to make extra efforts to enhance the brand through signs, brochures and advertising, then it won’t be worth their while. These marketing efforts should be done by you and not just assume that they know what to do.

Take care of your distributors
If you do decide to use this sales outlet, you have to make sure you take care of that relationship. You do need them and they will get other offers if you don’t make it worth it. Do this by treating them as a part of the company. Send holiday gifts, newsletters, have conferences.
Another way of nourishing that bond is to respect their margins. Like you, they need to make a profit out of the transaction. Just because you are the one that provides the product it doesn’t mean that you can hold them hostage. They can (and will) change manufacturers.

Make sure you check out the Distributors section of iNetGiant. You will find plenty of options to broaden your sales force. 

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