When a startup launches a new product and performs its market test, it may reveal that the method of distribution selected will not generate enough sales because of an insufficient marketing budget.

Distributor problem can a rise from almost anywhere. Don’t get caught off guard.

If you believe you have no other option but to sell your products through a dealer, distributor, or independent sales rep. network, you can often improve sales.

You can do this by improving, and intensifying, the sales training and support you provide for your product to the on the ground (or phone) sales reps at your distributors.

distribution problems starts
Source: Canva

This is accomplished by applying more time and effort to improving the distributor’s sales reps awareness of your product and its benefits, and by showing them the best ways to present and sell your product.

Here are some steps to take to increase the awareness of your company’s product and create a sense of enthusiasm about your product in the minds of your distributor’s sales reps.

Distributor sales meetings for solving distributor problems

Most distributors offer numerous opportunities for marketing and sales managers at the companies they represent to present their products to their sales reps. This typically happens at annual sales meetings they hold during the year.

You should never pass up an opportunity to get in front of the distributor sales team at these meetings. However, some distributors, especially those in mature industries, we’ll try to limit contacts between their accounts (your company)  with their sales reps. It’s because they are concerned that these presentations take selling time away from their reps.

It’s a common issue with anyone running a sales organization. You want them out selling, right?

This is not your problem. If you feel that the distributor’s sales reps need more and better sales training to boosts your products sales response, insist that your distributor make special arrangements to allow you to stage your own presentation to the sales reps. And take that opportunity percent and reinforce your product story, features, and benefits.

If you are experiencing poor sales response in a start-up, this may be your last opportunity to pull your product out of its slump.

At the presentation you make in the sales meeting, you want to highlight the following:

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  • Make your products benefits, advantages, and positioning crystal clear. Explain to the distributor’s reps the essential features and benefits that make your product different from and better than similar products in the same class. Use point-by-point comparisons of key product features to make these distinctions crystal clear, to position your product, very clearly against competitive products, in the mind of the sales representative.
  • Go beyond your product sales pitch. Don’t stop at giving sales reps your products standard sales presentation. Equip them to handle what comes next from the prospect. This is a good spot to explain the customer journey and all the touchpoint content to move them through the sales cycle. Discuss common sales questions and objections that prospects have on your product. Thoroughly describe the best method for responding to a countering each of these questions, in the prospects most common objections.
  • Tell the sales rep’s what your company is doing to help them move your product. Every distributor sales rep will push a product harder if they know that your company is helping to make their selling job easier. Detail the marketing efforts your company is making to promote the product. Digital advertising campaigns, direct mail programs, trade show appearances, and other demand-generating marketing campaigns to drive sales leads. If your company cannot afford to spend money on a significant marketing effort, you can at least execute a trade PR media awareness project at a lower cost to get the word out on your product and mention this during your presentation.
  • Help the sales rep. target their accounts. Let the sales reps to know what types of customers would be the most likely to buy your product. For example, by their industry or location, by the use of other products sold by the distributor, or by their order volume. This gives the sales reps an immediate goal to push your product to a few most likely prospects to get some early sales momentum going for your product.
  • Your door is always open. Let the distributors reps know that you and your company’s management team are at their disposal, to help them on any problem or issue with your company’s product. Distributor sales reps respond well to greater attention involvement on the part of the marketing staff in their product line companies. To prove it to them by being responsive to their request for assistance on day-to-day sales and administrative issues.
  • Debrief the distributor sales reps. After the meeting, try to gather additional, informal prospect feedback on your product from the distributor sales reps, on a one-on-one basis. You want to hear anything and everything the sales reps accounts say about your product. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Try to do this very discreetly, so that any negative information about your company’s product won’t be overheard by other sales reps in the meeting.
solving distribution problems
Source: Canva

What are the issues in your distribution channels from your market test? Or if the product is already rolled out you must identify insult problems within the channel.

There are a few things that you need to think about as you roll out your product to distribution channels.

  • Are the key benefits, features, company story, competitive analysis, objections, and FAQ’s ready for the distribution channel?
  • Is all the marketing collateral available for the distribution channels sales reps?
  • Do I understand my target market, the personas, and the relevant market size?
  • Do I have all the sales training material I need to educate my distributor sales reps?

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Wrap-up on solving distributor problems and the start-up turn around

It’s not easy setting up an effective distribution channel network. As you’re working in the startup, you’re wearing a lot of hats. But it requires that you understand the steps to create an effective distribution channel network for your products and services.

Setting up a distribution channel can seem overwhelming and overworked at times, be sure to identify the steps and walk through them. If it seems like you’re getting nowhere seek help from people that have done it before. And if you have any questions you can always shoot us a message or give us a call.

Be sure to set goals and monitor activity and performance with sales metrics.

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