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How to become a “Preferred” Supplier within the Distributor Network

Preferred
Verb prəˈfərd
liked better than another or others
Synonyms: would rather have, favor, be more partial to

What does it mean to be a “preferred” supplier at a distributor?

When you achieve “preferred” status with a distributor, you get “preferential” treatment. This can mean the distributor opts to do things for you (ie: sell your products) before any other suppliers and generally favors your brands.

Why is it important to be a “preferred” supplier?

It’s simple. Distributors sell thousands of products from dozens, if not hundreds, of suppliers. Salespeople either sell products that earn them the most money (commission), or extra money (incentives), in order of how easy it is to sell the product.

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Sales reps are like independent contractors, some even unionized, who earn money through sales commissions. They also earn little extra scratch off incentives (to sell or do something difficult to accomplish) thrown at them by suppliers .  That’s why they need the incentive.  It’s not happening on its own.  

So how do suppliers get the support, the love, the “preferential” treatment from sales reps?

  1. Have a product that flies off the shelves all on its own.  Consumers can’t get enough of it. Distributors loooove Suppliers with “hot” brands.  But don’t kid yourself.  There are very few hot brands.
  2. Pay a rep a ridiculous amount of money in the form of an incentive to push the sale.
  3. Consistently help the rep earn commissions and incentives by executing key activities in the field that help them sell.  Execute the “leading indicators” of the sale or “sales drivers” (like getting a cocktail menu feature or securing a display) for the rep so they don’t have to.  The rep can leverage the hard work you have done and simply take the order.  

Manager to rep, “Nice job getting that big order from Joe’s Bar!”

Rep to manager, “Thanks (wink).  The supplier visited the account and tasted the bartenders on a bunch of seasonal cocktails and offered to reprint the menu with two of his creations on it.  Came back and did the staff training too.  I just wrote the order!”

Lucky suppliers fall into #1.  The common practice is #2.  The best practice is #3.  

The benefits of #3 are:

  • Sustainable
  • Snowballs up the food chain from rep to manager to execs
  • Doesn’t waste money/maximizes return on money spent

Suppliers can’t execute #3 unless they have a person in the field with access to a tool to facilitate this important work.The key elements of a good field sales execution tool enabling planning, execution and metrics for the key account development process may include:

  • The ability to target the right accounts at the right time
  • CRM/relationship building capabilities with reps
  • CRM/relationship building capabilities with key accounts
  • The ability to highlight and prioritize key activities to be executed
  • Addition of value to sales reps in the field
  • Addition of value to execs and management

“Work-withs”  are golden opportunities. Here is how to avoid wasting them:

  1. Pre-plan by asking the rep to schedule meetings with specific accounts where you want to penetrate, activate or gain visibility.
  2. Prepare and present content to support your selling efforts in the account.
  3. Follow up on every call to leverage the time spent in each account. Nothing ever happens from just one visit.  There is always follow up required to make things happen.
  4. Collaborate with the rep to close the gaps on opportunities in every account visited and discussed.  Don’t let anything slip through the cracks!

To do this, you need a modern mobile solution that delivers:

  • Clear definition of goals and objectives
  • CRM
  • Sales presentations/content
  • Insightful and shareable reporting
  • Collaboration

A good tool helps you plan, execute and measure your work with distributor executives, managers, reps and accounts to become a “preferred” supplier.  While this may seem obvious, it is rarely done well by suppliers. The impact of executing in this manner can be the difference between achieving goals and failing, stagnation and growth, winning and losing.

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By | 2017-05-26T10:47:06+00:00 September 29th, 2016|3-Tier System, Sales Strategy|