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Updated: October 2, 2023 5 Things

5 things I know about ... Partnering with distributors

While strong emotional intelligence and relationship building best practices can lead to success, here are some worthwhile areas of focus related to forming and growing mutually beneficial distributor relationships.

Photo of David Oliva
Photo | Erika Sidor
David Oliva is the general manager of Organomation and winner of the 2023 Demand Gen Report B2B Innovator Award for the small business category.

5) Strategy. Manufacturers need to go beyond providing basic training on their products. Fast track distributor performance by sharing proven approaches from the internal sales playbook. It is reasonable to expect these tactics will need to be customized for the specific territory, but success is ultimately likely.

4) Collaboration. At Organomation, I represent a respected brand in the sample preparation instrumentation industry. While providing highly desirable solutions is ideal, in certain circumstances, it has led to prospective distributors overpromising in an effort to gain representation rights. Ideally, both parties will share market information and craft reasonable expectations together.

3) Investment. No matter how strong the product portfolio, sales in the territory will likely not increase solely due to having a new representative. Although an initial bump could come from distributors introducing the brand to their key accounts, this might not be a long-term growth driver. Manufacturers need to consider how they can best provide the distributor with leads beyond organic, inbound prospects coming through the manufacturer’s website.

As trade shows are still important in the laboratory equipment space, Organomation has benefited from presenting products at trade shows with a key distributor, within its sales territory. Achieved targets were lead generation, in-person sales training, and team building.

2) Support. Treat distributors like customers in terms of providing timely responses and an urgency in solving problems. Manufacturers do a disservice to all involved, including the end user likely behind the distributor’s inquiry, if they do not provide expertise on demand.

1) Authenticity. Manufacturers should not be afraid to discuss the challenges they are experiencing. Whether it be a sourcing problem leading to production delays or a product deficiency relative to a competitor’s offering, avoiding these truths harms both parties and hinders overall progress.

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