Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

How do you maintain distributor focus on your company priorities without a regular visit to the country ? 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 sharing something special 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. Samples for Distributor Employees
The first step is convince the distributor team to be passionate consumers of your product and enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Share samples of new products or best sellers. Include a small gift with your company logo. For candy and snack brands, provide samples to share with the distributors children’s sports club.

2. Sales Contests
Every one loves a sales contest. Get creative in 2023 and work on contest that reward people for creative promotions, social media events, and new ways to drive sales during the pandemic. The best contests are ones that “maximize” the number of winners! Have fun !

3. Provide Great Customer Service
Respond to requests quickly. Ship complete containers to keep the pipeline filled. Pay all bill-backs promptly.

4. 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.

5. Distributor Advisory Council
Form a small elite group of distributors to advise your company on international development. Conduct web based round table meetings twice a year with access to your companies senior management. All members of the Distributor Advisory Council will meet their sales target.

6. 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.

7. 2023 Trip Incentive
We all miss travelling ! 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 cities like Barcelona or Rome. Everyone works hard to qualify and vow to return “year after year”. Why not consider a contest with winners travelling in 2023?

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. Share Your Corporate Experts
Most companies maintain a team of cross functional experts at headquarters. This includes experienced people from Supply Chain, E-Commerce, Brand Management, and Information Technology. Why not make your team available for “1 to 1” web meetings with their peers at distributors. This builds connectivity between companies and facilitates the sharing of best practices.

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 ” ?