B2B Sales Success via Distributors
Approached correctly, selling through distributors can be as powerful as selling direct. Here, Clear B2B outlines three key areas for success.
1. Own your space in the marketplace
When you sell via distributors you lose an amount of control of your message. Your distributors, have their own different processes, approach and sales techniques, and become the ‘human face’ of your brand. This interaction can define what the end customer thinks and feels about your company.
It’s crucial to pro-actively manage the perception of your company within the wider sales environment. You need a strong proposition and a solid marketing and communications strategy to get your messages out there in a consistent and effective manner.
Proposition: You’ll need to start with your vision – what do you want to be? Then work out your mission – how will you get there? And set your values – the way you’ll do it, your style.
Then to your actual proposition. What’s the one thing you want to be famous for? It needs to be benefit-led, authentic and propel you above your competitors. This makes it easier for your distributors to recommend you and easier for the end customers to say ‘yes’.
Decide how you creatively manifest it across the communication channels. This will help you decide what types of distributors will suit you best – match values and ensure they’re equipped to support your proposition, rather than dilute it.
Marketing communications strategy and plan: Your plan is going to be split into two main audiences – end customers and distributors. It’ll likely be a mix of channels – PR to position yourself as a thought leader, ads in the key press to raise awareness, social media for dialogue and hospitality to deepen relationships with distributors.
With this plan in place every touch point that your distributors and end customers have with your brand should portray it in the way you intended.
2. Create a powerful partnership
You need to view your distributor as your team mate and structure the relationship in a profitable, rewarding way for you both.
- Create a clear vision of success, with reasons and expectations of the collaboration.
- Walk in their shoes: What’s keeping your distributors awake at night? How do they want and need to be communicated with? What kinds of conversations are they having with their customers? This will help identify where you can solve their problems and add value in order to make your sales easier.
- Money makes the business world go round and margins need to be competitive.
- Inspire your distributors with training. Drive home that one key message about your company that you want everyone to grasp.
- Open, honest and ongoing communication is key to reducing conflict and improving sales effectiveness. Your distributors will be under constant pressure to take on new brands and products so keeping front of mind is key.
- Take time to review progress with your distributors and address any sticking points head on.
3. Focus on the sell out
Make sure your distributor feels confident that demand will be there. You can also help to generate demand by including a joint marketing plan as part of your partnership discussions – this is a great way to bolster the national brand communications and make sure your distributor feels well supported by helping to drive traffic to their business.
Implement carefully designed promotions, incentives and rewards to aid the sell-out, but remember, whilst you can reward sell-out in order to gain a preference or a bit of momentum, to achieve growth it’s important that programmes are designed to reward incremental business.
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