Now that you have activated your distributors by generating leads for them, by identifying your future sales champions for them, it’s time to manage them more closely. The objective is now to make sure that this partnership is working. For that, you need to manage them.
The way you manage your distributors is first by establishing a strategy for the year, you must check its progress by monitoring your distributors. Companies typically find it a challenge to manage the programme, which sabotages its performance.
Here are the four key factors to help you avoid this mistake and have more success during your expansion in the European market:
- Set the Scene
- Schedule Performance Reviews
- You’re in Control
- Managing Distribution
Set the Scene
It is acceptable to handle your distributors straightforwardly. How can you do that? Formalise the plan in writing. A basic Excel or Word document will suffice. Although, you may use any format that your business is already using. Once you and the distributor have decided on an annual plan, you can communicate it with them formally by welcoming them to the programme.
It includes documents that outline fundamental metrics to measure your success and then establish quarterly performance assessment conditions from the start. If you are dealing with the European market, you must begin working with the distributor as early as October for the programme to start in January.
It is vital to know that in Europe, everything begins in January. Other industries may be as early as September; you will need to identify what period you must adhere to be in sync with your industry.
Schedule Performance Reviews
Ideally, your distributor would carry out your plan perfectly, and everyone would be content. Everyone, including you, will be preoccupied with their daily responsibilities, and the programme will be sidetracked or forgotten. Make it a point to create a rigid timetable that includes a monthly informal update on how things are progressing.
To help your business to conduct a performance review, here are a few reasons you should do it:
- Analyse if the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) are met or not.
- Opportunity to improve their overall performance.
- Allow having a better engagement with your distributors.
- Improve connections and loyalty.
By using this procedure, you can identify any issues with the plan’s implementation. I highly advise you to hold frequent checkpoint meetings to assess how you are doing about your goals. Conducting some client visits with your distributor might be a wonderful method to determine whether they are targeting the proper consumers. It will also show you how they market your goods and put you in a strong position to get first-hand client feedback.
You’re in Control
The best part about this method is that you have complete control! You can’t control everything in the field, but you now have an easy way to track how you’re doing about your own sales goals. You can determine whether the distributor is operating effectively. Now that you have the information needed to determine if they operate properly or whether it needs to be changed or adapted.
Were your expectations too high?
Has this lead generation effort yielded the expected results?
These are just a few examples of questions you might ask yourself to assess your progress. Since you are in control, you are more organised. It allows you to have a streamlined process between you and your distributors, which keeps both parties to be clear with the business goals.
You now have enough information to decide if you need to enhance your support for a distributor or introduce a new distributor to the market. In case they are not performing well, here are a few tips to help you how you can deal with underperforming distributors:
- Establish minimal sales targets; even the smallest volume can save you from dealing with a distributor that cannot generate any results for you in the long run.
- Limit the agreement to a specific time frame, usually a year, to see if they are a good match for your business or not.
Depending on your distribution plan, you may need to train your sales personnel for different levels of service and audiences. Following the training session, it is common for a stock order to be placed. If the distributor expresses a strong interest in educating their personnel, it typically shows that they are serious about your product.
Some distributors believe that taking their sales force out of the field for a day to attend a training session is a day when they will not create new sales. As a result, if they have plans to provide training for their sales representatives, you can be confident that they are devoted to your product.
You should now have a much better understanding of what a distributor’s programme entails based on the facts presented above. The implementation of the plan will provide you with the ability to visually review your sales and identify any changes you need to make to better assist your distributor. It also provides critical information for determining if you need to support, add or remove a distributor.
You may also download our tools at https://www.exportia.com.au/downloads/ which will help you choose the right distributor for your business when exporting to the European market.