As a manufacturer, a very good portion of my day is spent trying to make life easier for those selling our products.

 

As you can imagine, if Distribution and Retail doesn't know how to effectively sell our products, is lacking in training, literature or promotional materials, or simply doesn't have success for whatever reason, our sales will suffer and my job will be history. So it is very important that I provide support for all levels of sales. 

 

With that being said, we sell through a tiered system, which includes Distributors at the top. Many, if not most, of the retailers that carry our products buy them through Distribution. What I would like to know, first of all, is what you need your Distributors to offer when you pick up product lines? What is the most important aspects of your relationship with your Distributor? (Having inventory, their sales support, the training they offer, ???). If I know what you need from them, I can work on making sure it is available to them. 

 

My second question is whether or not you ever go straight to the manufacturer for support and, if you do, what do you need? Promotional materials? Education? Merchandising solutions?

 

I know I am not the only manufacturer who would love a little guidance straight from the source (YOU!) and I want you to know how much I appreciate your comments, suggestions and feedback - in advance. 

 

I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

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Replies

  • I go between two major manufactures, I feel both are equal in quality and close in price. I have a local distributer that comes by the office quite often, his job is to sell me product doesn’t care which brand I purchase as long as I purchase.

    With that being said, if the manufacture rep visits my office and gives more updated information and show more interest in my business that is the one I am going to buy more equipment from.  I had a rep stop by the other day he showed us some things they came out with last year that we really liked but didn’t know was available, if would of came by last year he would of sold a lot more equipment through us.

    Rick

  • Monique,

     

    You and I had a similar exchange the first time we communicated.  Distribution is one of the keys to increasing sales for a manufacturer but it is a tite rope walk that the BDR and inside sales persons must walk.  They cannot show favoritism to any particular manufacturer, and are only as well trained as the area sales reps are capable of training.

     

    Having been on the retail side for a very long time, it is the sales reps who make the difference to me.  When I need training and support they are the first person I am calling.  When I have product issues and customer complaints they are the ones I am calling.  However many of the "sales" reps I have dealt with do not actually try to sell, or support there product.  It has become where a area rep does nothing more than deliver brochures and when I have issues they have me call the corporate office.  Before I offend to many reps there are a handfull I know of that go above and beyond the call of duty. 

     

    Distribution should not be relied upon to sell me on a product.  How can a rep push me toward x product when he has three manufacturers with x type products and cannot alienate any one of them.  The job of distribution should be to be knowledgeable on all the lines they carry and offer an unbiased information and real facts about there experiences. 

     

    The sales rep should be coming to us with incentives to sell there product, and actually show us why there x is better than anyone elses x.  Right now I am writing my purchase orders for the 2011 season.  There are atleast a half dozen manufacturers that I will not be purchasing there product because the persons they chose to represent them have done a poor job of knowing their product, selling their product, or supporting their product.

     

    Beyond that it is the manufacturers duty to train there reps on customer service, and give them tools like spiffs, discounts etc to encourage purchasing.  Every year we are presented with the opportunity to make early buy purchases and save some money.  This is offered as a combination of price breaks that distribution is levy themselves or in conjunction with manufacturers discounts.  What is the incentive to buy more of that product after the initial purchase is made.  What is the incentive to retail sales staff to sell more of one manufactures products than someone elses.    I am a big fan of spiff programs for retailers, because when everything is said and done everything boils down to the WIIFM principal.  (Whats in it for me).

     

     

  • Monique, 

    We sell and provide service direct to our dealers only.  We do not offer our product lines through any distributors, or website clearing house.  

  • "...I am wondering though, what would be a motivating factor for you to buy through Distribution? If you walked into your local SCP, HornerXpress or Gorman location (or whomever else you may buy from), what would you want them to offer you in order to take on a new product line - not necessarily mine, just anything new?"

     

                          Confidence. It is the number one reason people try and continue with (or not continue with)  a service,  business or product. Luke mentioned that he would like to see manufacturers offer videos or better training. While on the surface it appears he is simply asking for "More Training and Videos", what he in fact is really asking for is somewhat disguised. Isn't training a way of people to become more familiar with and confident about your product? (Think free sample of Tide Laundry Detergent in the mail). Isn't a video a way to show and display your product and how it works, which leads to increased prospect confidence about your company? Do McDonald's or Ford still need to advertise? Major corporations want their prospects to see them and put themselves in the public eye so they can continue to resonate confidence. 

     

                       Monique, I am going to key in on a word you used. The word is "Offer".  Lets say your company offered a strong product, offered a guarantee, offered training, offered customer support,  offered a presence, offered quality, offered selection, offered branding, and so on. All of these offerings simply lead one to try or continue to use because they all evoke and instill confidence.

     

                          I recently broke off a long term relationship I had with a liner supplier that I used for many years. The reason was a product failure that they offered poor support and communication on. The relationship was terminated based not on the issue specific,  but rather an erosion in confidence in how they would perform under similar circumstances in the future. I simply lost confidence in them as individuals and as a business.

  • Thanks for the feedback Chris! I know that I can always trust you to ask when you need something, which is a VERY great trait in a customer, and I certainly appreciate it. I am wondering though, what would be a motivating factor for you to buy through Distribution? If you walked into your local SCP, HornerXpress or Gorman location (or whomever else you may buy from), what would you want them to offer you in order to take on a new product line - not necessarily mine, just anything new?

     

    Again, thanks for your feedback!

    Monique 

    PS: I'll work on a top ten list for you right away! 


    Christian Spoerl said:

     

     

    Hi Monique, we have purchased products from you.  We have literature which we place in our welcome package.  We also drop by flyers to our customers.  We always turn to our suppliers first, then the manufacturers. The only thing I can think of is creating at top ten list on why " we should buy your product or selling points we can give our customers "..

     

    I hope this helps.

     

     

     

    Chris

  •  

     

    Hi Monique, we have purchased products from you.  We have literature which we place in our welcome package.  We also drop by flyers to our customers.  We always turn to our suppliers first, then the manufacturers. The only thing I can think of is creating at top ten list on why " we should buy your product or selling points we can give our customers "..

     

    I hope this helps.

     

     

     

    Chris

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