Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

Every export manger has performed the time consuming function of reaching out to potential distributor candidates in a new country. The process is usually successful, but requires patience and perseverance. Top distributors are overwhelmed with new representation inquiries. These requests must compete for attention with the hundreds of emails in the distributors inbox from his existing brands.  Export Solutions has worked on more than 300 distributor search projects across 96 countries. Below are our Best Practices for contacting new distributors.

Email plus Phone Call
Email candidates a short, fact based , note. You may receive an immediate response from a few hungry and motivated candidates. More likely scenario is the need for an immediate phone follow-up.
Work with the contacts assistant to schedule a phone meeting or ask to speak with the person in charge of “Important New Business” projects. Periodically, I will also contact a distributor through Linkedin , as that often routes through a different email address.  Lack of response after several attempts means that the distributor is not interested. On the other hand, you must persevere as sometimes as the boss may be busy or not glued to email like the rest of us.

Avoid Mass Mailing
Distributors recognize an email blast from miles away, guaranteeing a low response.
Better to send a personal email, mentioning the contacts name, how you found him and your rationale for contact. i.e. We are looking for a partner with a strong track record building other USA brands.
Target distributors which may be a good fit based upon your investment level and brand ambitions.
For example, large power distributors prefer brands with strong marketing plans, while smaller distributors appear more open to pioneering promising new products without giant spending budgets.
Company Credentials Information
Do not bombard a candidate with attachments and pdf’s of lovely brochures prepared by an ad agency.
First, many people automatically delete emails with attachments from people they don’t know.
Send Powerpoints and project details only after you have established contact.

What Distributors Want to Know
Distributors want to know who you are : What is the size of your company, Brand USP ( why are you different ?) international success, and plans ( investment strategy) for  their market. Distributors mindset is to quickly calculate how much money they can make representing your brand and how tough will it be to sell to their customers !

Market Visit
Distributor response will be improved if you request an introductory meeting at their office.
This demonstrates that you are serious about the project and interested in brand building, not just selling a few containers. Try to visit at least tree distributors on your trip, more if it is a large country or
you anticipate a “tough sell”. Schedule your visit at least 6-8 weeks in advance to guarantee distributor availability.

Distributor Search Guide-Export Solutions
Export Solutions web site contains a free 60 page Distributor Search Guide.
This guide is jammed with strategies, ideas, and template’s to guide each step of the Distributor Search process.Export Solutions completes distributor search projects for leading brands worldwide.

Sample Introductory Email

Subject: New Business Opportunity -CerealCo* – USA

Dear Alexander:
Cerealco is a popular cereal brand from the USA. Founded in 1960, 2017 sales will reach $300 million dollars. Our point of difference is that Cerealco offers high quality Gluten-free and Organic cereals popular with many modern consumers . CerealCo exports to 25 countries , including several in Asia.
We are now beginning the process  to consider partners for Indonesia. I understand that you have a successful track record  building other well known USA grocery brands. Can we arrange an introductory phone meeting for Wednesday at 900 am ? I am based in Atlanta, Georgia, -12 hours versus Jakarta.