7 Top Distributor Management Tips And Why They Matter (Part 2)
By: Emilio C. Macasaet III
 
Managing a distributor partner could be very daunting especially for the ill-prepared. It’s almost a complex function.  In most cases, it is easier to achieve sales goals than to forge a collaborative distributor-principal relationship.
 
Last week, I gave you the first 3 tips. Here are the last 4 of the 7 top tips and why you need to pay attention to them.  
 
#4. You formulate strategies, and work with Distributor on tactics. Strategy is a choice (or series of choices) where, when, and how to play to win. Don't relegate this critical decision to your distributor.
 
Why it matters. Most distributors tend to be tacticians. They prefer quick and short gains. This has its own merits. But, as Sun Tzu once quipped, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
 
How to? Youdecide where and when distributor must play to win. This could pertain to: primary target channels or customers, geographic areas, and product or category. Decide on how (i.e. distinctive offerings) to play to win by jointly formulating tactics with distributor. Tactics are developed per segment (e.g. Channel, customer, area, product).  
 
#5. Conduct different types of meetings for different priorities. 
Your regular meetings with distributor is part of your control and monitoring function. Try to focus your meetings on singular area of concern for optimal results. 
 
Why it matters. Less is more. This let's you and the distributor focus on key priorities per category of activities.
 
How to? Conduct the following meetings separately: a) performance review (actual vs target + gap analysis) which largely pertains to sales and profit; b) operations review (e.g. inventory management, order-processing, delivery); c) organization development (e.g. training, headcount, employee satisfaction); d) check-point meeting. This is a weekly meeting which should last for a maximum of 1 hour where you discuss weekly implementation of plans. Strategy review is included in your annual and semi-annual strategic planning. 
 
#6. Religiously conduct fieldworks.
At least 60% of your time must be spent on the field either alone or with the distributor’s field sales personnel. Where else? 
 
Why it matters. Purposive fieldworks help you validate information, observe execution of plans, and feel the pulse of the trade and competition. They also give you opportunity to do some fire-fighting or establish rapport with key customers. 
 
How to? Include in your monthly sales coverage plan schedules for fieldwork. It’s best that you do this together with distributor’s personnel. They could be salesmen, delivery team, trade marketing, or supervisors and managers of the distributor. 
 
#7. Build a high-performance distributor team.
It’s business plus people. Your job is not only to deliver desired business output but also to ensure those who deliver them are well-oiled killing machines. 
 
Why it matters. A high-performance team delivers consistent and profitable sales revenue growth. 
 
How to? Include in your calendar of programs the training schedules for distributor’s personnel. For best results, include all departments (e.g. Sales, HRD, Physical Distribution, Finance, Management). Seek the support and assistance of your immediate superior for resources (including trainers).

 

Emilio Macasaet III is a Partner and the Chief Distribution Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. A bestselling author of two sales books – Distributor Management and 6 Steps To Effective Key Account Management. For more info, email info@mansmith,net