Written by: Niraj Pattarkine
About the author: Business Head | Sales & Marketing | Retail & Franchisee Operations | Projects
For many manufacturing companies, success in sales depends to a large extent on “Distribution Sales”, which is achieved through its network of Channel Partners. In this series of articles on the topic, let’s try to delve into some practical experiences & leanings on the subject, gathered essentially during actual field workings. Since these articles have not been written in a pre-planned manner, it would be shared in a free flowing manner as a collection of short write-ups; hope the readers find the insights useful.
Key factors to look for in a Channel Partner (Part I)
Success in “Distribution Sales” depends vastly on the selection of the right Channel Partner, which may either be a Distributor, Wholesaler, Franchisee, Showroom, Retailer etc. Further, by constitution the Channel Partner is mostly either a Proprietary firm, Partnership firm or a Private Limited company. Here, we would refer to the individuals who are promoters of the firm, viz Proprietor/ Partner/ Director etc, generally as “Dealer” for the sake of convenience. The manufacturing unit would be referred to as a “Company”
Now, having broadly defined the terminology, the selection of a Channel Partner is based on two parameters:
A. Personal Profile
B. Business Profile
This refers to the disposition of the Dealer viz the Proprietor/ Partners/ Directors etc of the firm toward the business. While the evaluation of “Personal Profile” varies from business to business, the general criteria to be considered is:
Attitude / Mindset/ Cultural fitness
If the company manufactures a premium range of products, then the Dealer who is into selling discounted products or high volume low margin products would not help much and vice versa. The Company and the Dealer should be culturally aligned. Further, for a long term association it is important that the Dealer follows business ethics and does not take shortcuts. The Dealer should also be willing to put efforts in the local market jointly with the Company. A proper alignment & adaptability creates synergy which helps both the Dealer and the Company
Personal involvement in your business
Whatever the stature of the Dealer, unless he takes a personal interest in your business, the sales in your business can-not be optimized. Dealers who are overly occupied with some personal goals or some other professional fields may not be able to allocate sufficient time to your business, even though they have the capability to do so. Even a great location or sound financial background would not yield the desired results, unless the Dealer is personally involved in the business. Further, Dealers who rely mostly on only the professionally hired managers/ staff may not achieve the full potential of sales for your company.
Hunger to grow
Unless the Dealer has the passion to grow personally, as well as, his network he may be content with the business which is easily flowing his way. This may limit the efforts of the dealer and would lose potential business which requires more efforts.
Energy & focus
Higher the physical energy, coupled with drive and passion, higher would be movement in the focused direction. It’s not only the age, but the energy put in the business which yields better results.
Risk Taking ability
This is more important when the Company introduces a new product or the brand is entering into a new geography. Further, the risk profile of the Dealer in terms of investing in your business also plays an important role, since without investment there product availability may be impacted.
It could be in any of the related fields like social, political, economic, trade associations, local government bodies etc. This may help the company to get certain favorable coverage, push the pace of certain regulations etc
The Dealer who is willing to go that extra mile, not only for his customers, but also for his employees and the company can sustain through the thick and the thin. Service orientation creates referral business as well as repeat business from the same customers.