Many B2B companies sell through distributors and know the relationships they have with them are key to increasing revenues. What most B2B companies don’t know — or don’t do a great job of executing — is how to communicate, educate, and engage their distributor community to turn them into sales powerhouses.
Companies who put thought and resources into enhancing their relationships with distributors see remarkable results in revenue growth.
Here are eight essential ways to build your relationship with distributors:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Conferences — 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 — 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.
- Webinars — 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.
- Distributor portal — 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.
- Feedback — 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 should be an important part of your annual marketing plan. As you start thinking about your marketing, make sure to include a healthy focus on building relationships with distributors.