If you are a manufacturer, choices must be made regarding how you will sell. Dealers, distributors, a single master distributor, direct. For those of you who choose to sell through multiple dealers or distributors, this article will describe some of the needs to support your partners.
Your sales partners will need personal attention. You need a sales force to maintain regular contact.
- Position your internal sales staff as consultants, not order takers.
- Don’t over promise.
- A consistent message is important.
- Automate and simplify the ordering process.
- Keep your sales partners informed about their orders.
- Make your sales literature and product literature available to your partners before the public.
I cannot say enough how important personal attention is to your sales partners. This is what props them up, makes them feel loved, and generates your business. Sales through partners is about leveraging your knowledge, so to leverage you must get that message out.
Sales staff is not there to take orders. You can do that with automation. Which products are selling, what should the partners stock? How do the partners get connected? Use your sales staff to write articles or memos for your partners, get both your partners and sales staff to understand the value of getting the message delivered quickly and accurately. Arrange a gateway person to clean up the messages from sales people, make your sales people look like geniuses.
Over Promising, often an issue, especially with custom products. Make sure that everyone knows that your partner web site is the proper place to see delivery times. If the sales person says something and the web site is different, then your partner needs to call. Don’t be sloppy, keep the web site as your “golden” place. Let your sales people make promises, but make sure that everyone knows, if it’s not on the web site, then it’s not real yet.
The best way to deliver a consistent message is to deliver the official communications in writing. I don’t mean print! Use the web, have a special partner only web site, just to make sure that your partners get the message. Spend more time on this communications media than any individual, remember you are driving a big vessel, lots of partners out there depending on your product to make them a living. Give them your best.
If your partners configure their products, build the purchase order and place the order on your site, then you won’t have any order errors that are your fault! Wow, that one thing might cut order problems in half. Keep your partners informed as to order status on the web! Let them look for themselves to see when an order will be shipped. Bring your partners into the family.
Product literature, make sure that your partners know first. If they are selling your product, it’s no fun for them when a customer wants your new product, and the sales channel does not even know that it exists. Make sure that they know, your partner site is up to date. If an end-user comes to them about a product, your partner will have the “real” information at their fingertips on your partner pages.
Better communications with your partners will generate better sales and happier end users. Do everything that you can to keep your lines of communications open and on target.
I like to spend time outdoors, either boating or riding my bicycle. Since 2000, I've worked with manufacturers, creating systems to save time. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.