Speed Dial: The Benefits of Becoming Your Suppliers' Go-To Distributor
There is something to be said for developing and fostering relationships with suppliers. Beyond making it easier and more enjoyable to do business with each other, it can be beneficial to you and your company to have that deeper connection and be that top-of-mind distributor for your key suppliers.
As we come out of the pandemic and see sales rebound and supplier marketing activity ramp back up, there will be more responses to our supplier online presence that need to be channeled to a trusted distributor. End-buyers find us online and want to do business. We need distributors to follow up and go after the leads and business opportunities. We are going to funnel those leads to our regular customers and those trusted distributors who are top of mind. Questions we ask ourselves when an end-user/client reaches us directly:
- Is this one of my current distributors’ clients?
- Which distributor can handle this request best?
- Does it need to be a regional/local distributor or salesperson to please this customer?
- Is a larger top 100 distributor a good choice for this lead?
- Who will gladly handle this smaller client or initial inquiry?
- Do I know a distributor salesperson who has experience in this market segment or industry?
- Who can I trust to just handle this and send the business and orders my way?
Obviously, all of these questions require the supplier to have insight into our distributors’ business and client portfolio. Sales calls, industry trade shows and social media connections all help in building those relationships, but we need to dig deeper to understand each other’s business. Often, when suppliers ask distributors what industries they specialize in or simply to tell us about their clients and business, we get a generic, “It’s all over the place,” or “A little bit of everything.” That makes it tough to focus our sales presentation on what will be most beneficial for both of us, and it truly limits what we know about your business and how we can best work together on new opportunities.
Suppliers also need distributor input on possible new products and programs before we take them to market. It is our closest distributors who will take the time to give us honest input and guidance that we turn to first. Proposed products, pricing, and marketing and sales tools are always launched more successfully after distributors have reviewed them. In addition to having a say and voice for you and your clients, it also gives you a preview and jumpstart on what is coming down the pike—not a bad position for any marketing professional. Even more beneficial, it allows you to share intel with your client, enhancing your credibility as a promotional products leader.
Just as suppliers benefit from knowing more about your business, you can certainly leverage the stronger relationships with us to become more of an expert on our companies and operations. Let’s face it: Many of your clients already consider you “the factory” for their orders and products. Adopting a supplier’s perspective and having a better understanding of their business only makes you a stronger source for your customers. Let’s all dig in.
Mark Jenkins, managing director of Pioneer Balloon Co., has been involved in the promotional products industry for more than three decades. He has led the national sales and marketing efforts of three different suppliers. Jenkins is a road warrior, traveling nationally an average of 36 weeks per year, visiting distributors and participating in trade shows, sales meetings and industry events. A former PPAI board member and chair, he has been active in volunteering, bringing his industry knowledge, perspective and leadership to the table. Visit his website here.