You have selected your distributor in the country, signed the contracts and started with orders for a few months or years.
Now – unfortunately for you – your local partner is reaching a plateau in sales. If you have trust in him, and full confidence that it is the right company for you, then it is time that you help him/her improve his/her business.
Developing sales through a local dealer is inevitably linked to helping him structuring the company. It is important that you often advise them or push them in the right direction.
We could not count the number of companies importing goods having no website, no corporate emails and bad quality logos. We usually run away from them (not all but…).
If you want your products to be well introduced to customers, rely on a company that is already presenting itself well. If a company cannot leave a positive brand impact for itself why should I give them my image to deal with?
In that sense, we usually push our partners to have a good website, their own internet domain and email addresses. Logo, business cards, promotional brochures are also great indicators of the quality of your local partner.
Nowadays, more and more companies are developing sales through social media and internet content. It is vital than your partner catches the new trends of online marketing and selling.
Structuring the sales
How come a distributing company cannot have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software in 2018? All around we hear that the data is a key aspect for the future. Guess what, it is also for sales!
Tracking of information and following-up with potential customers is one of the basic principles.
It is highly recommended that your distributor is registering and sharing information and statistics with you.
Then, how do they sell? How do they build their network? Have they sub-dealers?
How is organized the sales force? Per type of customers, per size of customers, per type of products?
Amongst those questions, what type of sales structure would suit you the most?
Analyzing their sales
It is really important that you can give an honest opinion to your partners about their results. You need to understand what products they sell the most and to which customers. Then you will discover why they never buy this reference, why they never thought about this service from you or why this obstacle was the reason they never pushed or promote your brand for this particular segment.
At least, it is important for each year to make a summary of the 10 most revenue-generating items (or services), the 10 fast-moving ones and the items for after-sales (if need you sell finished products). It will help you outlining trends and preventing shifts in the market or in the behavior of your end-customers.
Starting from this analysis, you will be able to set monthly and/or yearly goals. And it will be a must! Check out how on our article: Learn how to set goals for your distributor.
Shape your partner’s team to reach your goal
One good way to help your distributor to push your brand is to shape its team to suit your needs. Many distributors/dealers have a sales department composed of salespeople selling a bunch of various brands.
These people are basically trying to sell as much as they can but how to guarantee that your brand is ahead of the pack?
A good way is to request your dealer to nominate a product specialist (also called brand manager). This person will become your right hand, your eyes and arms inside the country.
The main tasks of this person?
- Continuously training the other salesmen so that they have the latest and best knowledge about your products
- Giving you information about local sales and all the statistics
- Adjusting local prices with you
- Reorienting strategy if need be
- Following up the local problems with the aftersales department
- Visiting key accounts with your brand in mind first
… And results can be incredible in-country with sales potential, especially when your dealer was not careful about your brand. Sometimes you can triple your revenues in a year or two!
Build marketing/communication together
You cannot afford to let your dealer only setting up the local communication. You need to check what he is doing and support his efforts.
First assess the situation and take a look at the past communication campaigns.
Then decide how much your company is willing to invest in local communication
Third, make a game plan to crush your competition
Here are the channels you can use:
- Printed ads: do you have printed ads in specialized magazines or in physical places? Are they well designed and are they fitting the local culture?
- Events: is your partner attending exhibitions? How is your brand represented?
- Workshops: is your partner making special events for your best customers?
- TV or Video ads: is there a need for a TV ad? What about a campaign on YouTube?
- Online ads: do you have a plan to have ads on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. What is the best channel for your brand? How will it be done?
- Influencers/KOL: does your partner has a relationship with the rockstar customers in your field? Can they promote your brand in any of the potential channels?
Improve their customer service
Customer service is really important. How is it handled? What customer experience your dealer is giving to the end-users? Are they making them happy? Do they have an instant response when an issue pops up? How much time does it take to deliver your product or service locally? Etc… In that aspect, you need to check the overall experience and it is composed of many tiny details.
Aftersales department or customer service department is crucial! According to a Harvard Business Review article*, acquiring a new customer can be 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining one. This article also says that retaining 5% more customers can increase your profits by 25 to 95%!
Extra tip: push them to have a hotline. It can be done through a dedicated phone number, from an automated messaging system on the website or a discussion group on a messaging app.
Invest in their strategy
Do not leave them alone. It is important that you invest in their development. You can finance an aspect, an event, a brand manager, or a sales action.
What we can recommend here is to invest in end users. For example, you can offer free goods to your dealers so that they can enter new key accounts, lending products for trials or make your already best customers happy. Good (and tracked) investments pay off in the long term.
Extra tip: Shift the market together. If you have new technology or something that your competitors do not have, then invest a lot in product launch, free trials, free products for key accounts, events, etc. If you are the first one to invest and to make end-users to switch from a technology to another then you will be successful for the next few years. It will be hard for competitors to catch up with you.
Pic: Tim Mossholder_Unsplash.com