Distributors do a lot of heavy lifting by managing all your small orders and packaging them into one neat number for you each month. They’re also the gateway to a lot of retailers and other businesses.
One of the misconceptions about distributors is that they go out and sell your stuff for you.
Most do, but the truth is, they have thousands of products that they represent and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. On top of that, they’re first concern is getting their customers what they ask for. Selling them something new is a distant second.
But with the right motivation, you can get their attention and get them working hard to bring in some sales for you.
Anatomy of a Distributor: What They Want
A good distributor has a good sales team and what that team wants is a product they can sell easily. And they want to make more money. Uhm … that’s pretty much it.
How to Get Your Distributors Working For You
Okay, so now you know what they want. What you need now is a list of strategies that feed that motivation.These are all things that are used with great success to motivate a distributor’s sales team:
Salespeople often work on a combination of salary and commission. If they’ve got 5 or 10 different brands of a particular product, they want to push the ones that make them the highest commission.
When you first start up with the distributor, offer them a 5 for 4 deal. Get five for the price of four. An easy way to manage this is to tell them you’ll just take 20% off the invoice. And offer this deal during the months of x, y and z when competition is fiercest in your industry.
Make sure you contact them and let them know when the deal is running so they can take advantage of it. Another thing you can do is put all the deals on an annual calendar and present it when you approach a new distributor. This shows them that you’re there to support them.
2. Marketing Materials
“Giveaway” product samples are always helpful. And shirts, golf balls, mugs, pens and all sorts of paraphernalia with your logo plastered tastefully on them are good promo items for both the salespeople and their customers.
There’s also a special kind of brochure used by distributors called a Contact Sales Sheet. It’s one glossy card-stock page printed on both sides. On the front is a big graphic of your product, and on the back is a quick sales pitch, product ordering info, and a place for the distributors contact info.
Get a few hundred of these printed up for your distributor. Download this Sales Sheet pdf I put together and use it as a guide to create your own. You can create it in Word or Acrobat and then send it to the printers or take it to Kinkos.
3. Cash and Prizes
Everybody loves cash and prizes.
One of the things you can do to really incentivize your distributor’s sales team is to contact the Sales Manager or VP of Sales and Marketing and offer up some prizes or giveaways like sports tickets or gift certificates to great restaurants for the team.
Make sure you’ve got a nice branded envelope so everyone knows where they came from. This helps keep up a strong relationship with the manager or vp because you’re giving them some tools to help motivate their team.
To tie this kind of incentive to performance, you might ask the manager if you can go in and pitch the sales team with a bonus program. Something like a $1000 for whoever makes the most sales for you that month. Or two prizes of $500.
Grab the Bull by the Horns
These are all great ideas. They’re used all the time and they help rocket up your sales. They get your brand into the hearts and minds of the people out there selling it and get your products into the hands of customers. And there’s one more strategy that works extremely well …
Get your own sales team out there knocking on doors. Once you’ve got some distributors on board you can go direct to customers. When you make a sale, ask them what distributors they use and match them up with one that carries your products. The more sales you get for the distributor, the more they’ll like you and believe in your brand.
And the more effort they’ll put into helping you sell.