I have previously explained how important up front research, due diligence and general strategy is when selecting a partner to be your Distributor. Indeed the word ‘partner’ is deliberately chosen, as the relationship must be considered one of joint responsibility. 총판 The day a Supplier describes a Distributor as a ‘Customer’ is a sad one, as the motives for selling to them will be misguided.
A Supplier will never have control over its Distributor, and it should not try to do so. However with thoughtful and planned management, the Supplier can influence significantly the thinking and strategy of the Distributor.
A shared vision is important, but often the root cause of misunderstanding if the vision is interpreted differently by each party.
So how do we go about singing from the same sheet?
First, the companies must have a similar ethic to developing business. For example they must both dedicate effort to external sales, they must both spend money on marketing, they both must have a culture of entrepreneurial flair. Hopefully much of this has been ‘ironed out’ in the due diligence process, and it cannot be stressed too much how important the prior research and due diligence is. The ‘chemistry’ must be right! Clearly a ‘can do’ Supplier wants to work with a ‘can do’ Distributor, therefore the culture within the Distributor business will either make or break the relationship.
Second, the Supplier must be able to ‘sew seeds’ in the Distributors mind, that enables the Distributor to develop ideas in line with the Suppliers thinking. Therefore the Suppliers ideas become the Distributors ideas. That way (hopefully) all buy into the sales plan. The sales ‘plan’ must be written with inputs from both parties, with agreed actions. It must be realistic, with some ambition built in, no different from any sales plan. Both the Distributor and the Supplier must commit to the actions agreed. The Supplier must maintain a level of responsibility, commitment and support to ensure this works for all, as it is in the interest of both parties. Fairly obvious, but all actions must be apportioned to an individual, and given a time for completion or action. The plan must be dynamic, easily updated, and reviewed by both parties regularly.
The Supplier must take the responsibility to train the Distributors team in its products, and must not forget the latest product development updates. Market and Product bulletins will be a key part of the relationship. Make sure that this is communicated in a way that all Distributors can benefit from.
Now all of this is all very good, but what about the new Sales Director, that has inherited Distributors from the Boss or his predecessor. And to make matters worse, several of them are not really performing. How do we deal with this?
First, check the contractual arrangements for the Distributor in question, their terms of engagement (if these exist), and also understand any terms of severance (should this be necessary). Talk to your Boss, check that any drastic action you may have in the back of your mind is not going to drop you into the ‘muck’, as you are just about to axe his all time buddy!