The classic industry question is: “How do you maintain distributor focus on your company priorities once you leave the market ?”There is no easy answer, but a solution is to encourage a distributor to “fall in love” with your brand and company. Falling in love is based upon an attraction to a person and enjoyment of spending time with them. The same feelings can apply to a brand. I regularly witness super human efforts by distributors for small and medium sized brands just because of “Brand Love”. Listed below are Ten Tips to romance your distributors to superior results.
1. Master Chef Endorsement
The first step is convince the distributor team to be passionate consumers of your product and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. For Food products, invite the group to lunch at a popular local restaurant .Pay a well known chef to prepare a meal with your products. Or cook lunch for them yourself. For candy and snack brands, provide samples to share with the distributors children’s sports club. Provide frequent and generous samples to all of the distributor team .
2. Fun Sales Meetings
Every distributor has sales meetings for their entire company.
These are usually a repetitive drone of powerpoint slides. Why not hire an agency to create a fun presentation module which may include audience participation, games, or costumes ? Or sponsor a local motivational speaker or training workshop using your products as the case studies. Break the mold of boring meetings !
3. Provide Great Customer Service
Respond to requests quickly. Ship complete containers to keep the pipeline filled. Pay all bill-backs promptly.
4. Distributor Awards
Recognize your high performing distributors with an award.
This could be Distributor of the Year or for $1 million in sales or for 15 years of partnership. Some companies sponsor smaller awards for key account manager of the year in each market and retail representative of the year. Publicize the event by awarding a plaque, hold an awards luncheon, take photos and share a press release of the celebration.
5. VIP Visit to Corporate Headquarters
Treat your distributor as a VIP at your corporate office. This trip creates a memorable bonding experience and a chance for you to serve as a good host. Take the distributor to a new product development laboratory and organize a meal with your CEO or executive officers. Make him feel like a member of the family.
6. Support Local Events and Charities
Creative distributors drive incremental sales through local marketing events. Display a willingness to support their ideas and invest in new programs. Events that sync with the distributors (or retailers) special charity build substantial goodwill and appreciation.
7. Annual Incentive Trip
Many companies sponsor trips for Distributor executives who attain their annual sales quota. Mid size brands source added focus by sharing the benefits of a good year by inviting achievers ( and spouses ?) to trips in resort locations like Hawaii or international cities such as Rome. Everyone works hard to qualify and vow to return “year after year”.
8. Holiday Baskets
Send baskets or gift packs to distributor employees that include your product and other adjacent holiday items. The idea is to extend your brands relationship to your partners homes.
9. Distributor Advisory Council
Form a small elite group of distributors to advise your company on international development. Meet twice a year with access to your companies senior management. All members of the Distributor Advisory Council will meet their sales target.
10. Treat Distributor as Your Best Customer
Be nice. Say thank you frequently. Send handwritten notes to people to recognize a nice display or a fixed problem. Have fun while you work.
Distributors may work with twenty brands or more, each shouting for attention. Distributors support all their brands , but there is no magic science to allocate time equally. Naturally, we all spend more time and effort for the brands and people we like and feel a personal connection to. What can you do to make your distributors “Fall in Love ” ?