Build relationships with your community.
Many B2B companies sell through distributors and know the relationships they have with them are key to increasing revenues. However, what most B2B companies don’t do a great job of is communicating, educating, and engaging their distributor community.
In the last year, I’ve seen companies grow by more than 20 per cent based on an investment in marketing to distributors. They do this by focusing on engagement with their community.
Here are 8 ways that B2B companies can build relationships with their community and improve distributor performance:
1. E-mail program
Develop an e-mail marketing program for communicating regularly with distributors. Include scheduled e-newsletters and single e-mail messages that share news on product launches, upcoming conferences, new marketing materials and other information. Keep your distributors informed on what’s happening, what’s coming, and let them know you’re responding to their needs and requests.
2. Case studies
Provide your distributors with case studies to help them sell your products by illustrating examples of where and how your product worked well in specific target markets. Case studies allow you to get your key points and key messages across. Not only do they build credibility with your distributors, they are important tools for distributors in their own selling activities.
3.Product launch packages
Give your distributors the product information they need to present your products to their customers. Too often, distributors don’t have the necessary tools in their hands. Ensure your distributors are regularly updated with product collateral (technical data sheets, demos) and when launching new products prepare a launch package. In addition to product information, these packages may contain an overview of the activities you are undertaking to launch this product in the marketplace.
Schedule a regular sales conference that brings together all of your distributors. These conferences serve as great platforms for launching new products, discussing company updates, educating distributors on new technology and reviewing systems and processes.
Relationship nurturing and development is key. Depending on the distributor’s business structure, it’s important to develop relationships at several levels (e.g. CEO to CEO, sales rep to sales rep). One-on-one relationship building fosters in-depth discussion and will provide greater insight into the wants and needs of distributors.
Regular webinars are a great way to keep the lines of communication open with your distributors. Topics may include training, a video tour of the company (for those distributors who haven’t had the opportunity to see the facility), new products and emerging technology. Remember to leave some time for Q&A.
In addition to a customer log-in section you may have on your website, set up a secured distributor portal. This can serve as the hub for all of your sales collateral, pre-recorded webinars, pricing and training materials. For distributors, it gives them an all-access pass to the materials they need.
It’s essential distributors know they can share their feedback. Put systems in place to allow distributors to give their suggestions and requests. Reinforce these systems at conferences, during conference calls and in email correspondence.
Distributor marketing is an excellent way to engage your community and boost not just your revenues, but more importantly - their revenues! Do you have other ways to engage your distributors? Let us know.