Navigating the three-tier system during the intense pace of OND as a supplier isn’t easy. It comes with unique challenges: Accounts are busy, buyers are slammed, and reps are trying to earn the lion’s share of their annual income. It’s crunch time.
The ultimate place you want to be during this busy time is on the preferred partner list with your distributor. How do you get there though? Having a good reputation is truly key. Getting that reputation isn’t just about your brand clout though, it’s how you treat your distributor reps AND accounts that matters. Your distributor’s execution will ultimately determine your success, making this relationship critical to achieving your goals.
One of our founders, Tim Jones, has prepared a list of Four Guiding Principles for how to maximize these relationships. They’re intended to help you avoid missed opportunities, especially during OND.
From Jones, “As a supplier myself for many years, I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to supplier-distributor relationships. I’ve found these principles to be key to productive relationships with distributors, especially during OND. Applied successfully, suppliers will reap the rewards. Ignoring them will position your brand poorly.”
Below are the first two principles, with the remainder to follow in a subsequent post.
Guiding Principle #1: Plan Ahead.
What happens during OND needs to be planned and agreed upon with management in advance. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time with distributors and accounts in OND, make sure that your interactions are in line with these plans.
- Don’t engage with reps or accounts on something that isn’t helping the distributor deliver against the specific plans and goals they have agreed to.
- When in the field, add value to the plan by being prepared to succinctly present and sell relevant product and promotional benefits. That’s why you’re there.
Guiding Principle #2: Keep Perspective.
It’s not about you. Even if you’re a supplier of importance or represent a big name brand, it doesn’t mean that you get to use the distributor rep as a resource to accomplish your own agenda. Use the principle of The Golden Rule during this busy time, and treat the distributor as you’d like to be treated.
- Distributor reps don’t work for you. Don’t treat them like they do.
- Don’t ask or expect the rep to do things for you. Focus on supporting them.
Keep an eye out for Part 2, which contains two more valuable pieces of advice from Tim.