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Ten ThingsThat Distributors Like

By: Greg Seminara
Topics: Food Distributors

1. Respect for their Right to Make a Reasonable Profit
Distributors have profit targets just like manufacturers do.
Distributors measure total supplier contribution, defined by sales multiplied by gross margin. How much value do you receive from your distributors relative to your contribution to their profits ?

2. Investment in Brand Support
Distributors love companies that  invest in above the line activities such as television advertising, radio, social media, print, and sampling. Distributor volume is proportional to your investment in brand support activities. More marketing dollars usually translates to greater sales and profits for the distributor.

3. Awards
Most distributors proudly display their Distributor of the Year awards in their office lobby or executive conference room. Recognition can be given for distributor of the year, or achievement of $1 million in sales, most improved store conditions, or ten years of service.

4. Market Visits ( But not too often)
Periodic market visits allow you to share ideas, monitor progress, and discuss issues. These trips serve as motivational, relationship building events, particularly if you can spend time together "out of the office".

5. Endorsement of Local Marketing Events
Best in Class partners maintain the ability to create unique local programs to build your brand. Voting with your marketing dollars stimulates the team to deliver and continue to bring you their best ideas.

6. Trip Contests- Quota makers Club
Many believe that achieving your annual target is a job standard.
This is true, but watch distributors ship cases like crazy when trying to qualify for a trip to a resort location ! Plus , the trip generates incredible goodwill and all vow to meet their objective to return "next year".

7.  Market Research
Distributors aspire to appear as category experts. Access to syndicated data from Nielsen plus local consumer research allows them to distinguish themselves from other vendors armed with hollow words and broad claims on a power point presentation.

8. Invitation to your Corporate Headquarters
A trip to the USA or Europe is a dream come true for distributor brand managers in emerging markets. Treat them like a VIP, and they will be loyal forever.

9. Lunch for the Support Staff
Order processing, customer service, and other administrative people form the hidden backbone of the distributors team.  Buy the group lunch and you can be a hero for $100- $200. Guess who's orders will be handled first at the mend of a quarter ? 

10. Letter of Thanks
Our industry depends on email too much. How do you communicate sincere thanks when someone receives 200 emails a day ? Send a personal letter via the post office recognizing a successful new product launch, creative promotion,or above and beyond effort. Extra points provided for a handwritten note ! These letters are treasured forever.