How to Get a Distributor to Sell Your Products

How to Get a Distributor to List Your Brand

Here at Master Minded Distribution, we get countless inquiries about the opportunity to have a product or brand distributed through us, to our network of smoke shops and dispensaries.  So, you have a great product, one you're proud of, or a full line of products – you are wanting to expand your opportunities by acquiring a distributor or two? We are here to give you invaluable advice, on how to catch the attention of a quality distributor.

What You Need To Know

Distributors, especially the big ones, can be hard to get your brand into. Distributors field hundreds of solicitations on a regular basis, persistent follow-up can sometimes do more harm than good. Beyond just the brand value, product demand, capital requirement & profit margins to consider, distributors purchasing decisions are heavily effected by their purchasing schedule, budgeting, warehouse space & more. Distributors & even larger retailers, typically do all their new product buying just a few times a year.

It is a purchasing managers job to pick the absolute best opportunities & investments for their company. It’s your job to figure out how to be in the top 3% of the inquires they receive; and that’s not easy! The better you know your product, your competitor’s products, the overall market you sell in & what differentiates you; the better you can compete. In the end, no matter how great your product, brand, team & potential, if the numbers aren't lucrative for the distributor & their customers, you won’t stand a chance. Make sure you are presenting a strong win-win-win situation, meaning a win for you, them & their customers!

What’s the Benefit of Having a Distributor?

A good distributor can be the catalyst of success & a bad one, or too many distributors can put you out of business. Many wise advisors believe that to be truly the best at something, you have to be focused on that one something. A lot of small business startups fail by having a short-sided business model, one that includes juggling the innovation, R&D, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, branding, customer service, human resources, retail sales, wholesale sales, distributor sales, warehousing & fulfillment. Add to that the financial management & wow, no wonder 98% of startups fail!

If you really want your company to grow, you have to have a talented team & a distinct plan. If you don’t have a team in place or the budget for one, you likely need an established distributor on your team. A strong and successful supply chain is one where manufactures manufacture, distributors distribute & retailers retail. Attempting to do everything will leave you falling short somewhere & could be detrimental to the brand.

Each distributor relationship is unique & negotiable, with this in mind , there are exclusive & non-exclusive distributor contracts, each having its own benefits. You can definitely expect a lot more dedication & effort from an exclusive distributor. All distributors, whether exclusive or non, typically handles wholesale sales, warehousing & fulfillment. Often times, exclusive contracts with established distributors, can add value in the form of marketing, branding, customer service & more. The terms of any deal are something that should be clearly defined at the onset of the relationship. Be sure to voice your needs and concerns to ensure everyone is happy & secure with the terms. A distributor can be the perfect partnership you need to realize your potential, by allowing you to focus on the development & growth of your brand.

Finding the Right Distributor

Like so many things in life, finding a Distributor is about "fit" - it can be an exceptionally lucrative and mutually beneficial relationship, that can accelerate the growth of your brand and the demand for your product in the market place.  To be successful, you have to do your research and find a reputable distributor who shares your vision and your goals! Do your research on how long they have been in business? Who is behind the leadership? What is their reputation like? Do they have long standing manufacture relationships? Do they price their products according to MMAP?

Get online, really dig into their website and their catalog.  Assess their strong suits and find out what they value in products, then be ready to highlight how your product is an excellent fit. You’re looking for a distributor whose catalog makes sense for your product & who ideally needs you as much as you need them. If you need them more than they need you, revisit your business model and figure out how to offer more value to a distributor relationship, starting with margins.

What a Distributor Wants, What a Distributor Needs

The more you understand about the complex & demanding business that is distribution, the better you can attract one. When a distributor adds you to their catalog, in reality they are investing in you and your brand. To them, you are simply an investment opportunity; you aren’t just selling them a product. They have a lot to consider when analyzing a potential investment & you have a lot of competition. Here's what you need to know, and what you need to plan for, to be attractive to a wholesale distributor. At the end of the day, the more lucrative & prosperous an opportunity you present to a distributor, the more likely you are to cash in on your potential.

 Understand Their Business Model

A distributors job functions are far different from a manufacture & the better you understand how, the better your chances of working with one. A distributor is looking to serve the trending demand of their customers, driven by the end consumer; in a market that is ever changing & growing. Good ‘ole supply & demand is at the core of their decision making. They are often scouring the market for products that end users are asking for specifically. If they are a really good distributor, they might know about your product already! Also, don’t be surprised or upset if your distributor carries competing products, that’s their job! Stay focused on being your best & making sure your product is competitive.

A distributor needs to move significant volume to make any real money. As you might know, they operate on rather small margins with rather high overhead, especially a full-service distributor. So keeping all of that in mind your product needs to be attractive as far as its demand goes. But, you must also prepare to price it in order to pay your distributors and retailers fairly. They are essentially your sales team & without them, you won’t survive. Be sure when pricing your products out, to account for reasonable & attractive margins for both wholesalers and retailers. You can trust that, the more you pay them, the more they will sell for you.

 Questions Purchasing Managers Ask Themselves When They Consider New Brands

  • Is your product type in high demand? Trending up or trending down?
  • Does your brand name hold value in the current market?
  • Is the competition for your products saturated or not?
  • Does the manufacture offer professional quality customer service?
  • Do you have the potential for high volume sales?
  • Can I myself, my competition or my customers, buy this exact product somewhere for less?
  • Is your brand supported by a marketing budget to drive your growth?
  • How much space & capital is required to pursue this investment?
  • How many distributors are you supplying & whom?
  • Do the potential annual sales justify the initial investment?
  • Does the manufacture enforce MMAP Policies?
  • Does the company have a business plan & a solid team?
  • Is the product packaging modern, safe & attractively branded?
  • Does the Manufacturer offer a reasonable return policy?

 Provide the Right Information to Help Them Make Decisions

Remember that they often have to make a decision without meeting you in person!  It’s the opportunity, the numbers & the product that will sell them. Send them ALL pricing, including their distributor cost, the wholesale cost & the MSRP. Tell them about your company and why you have a profitable opportunity for them. Tell them honestly, how many distributors & stores you currently supply. Share your realistic goals & your plan of execution. Send them samples they can have in hand - would you invest in a company without examining the product & packaging yourself?  Try to give them enough information to answer all the questions listed above & don’t forget to ask them some questions to help you better understand their needs.

 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

 Selling Direct for Less:  If you think a good distributor won't find out that your selling direct for less, you're wrong!  They've invested time, space and money to carry your brand, so respect their investment. By doing so it is best to support them like you would your very own sales team!

Webstore Blowouts:  Everyone loves a good sale, especially the B2C customer - but extending heavily discounted sales for months on end, simply de-values your product in the long run & kills your distributors existing investment.

Being Less Than Professional: Do you want to play ball with the big boys? You better be sure you know the rules of the game. A distributor expects you to have the fundamentals of business down, including invoicing, accurate order fulfillment, shipping & customer service. Treat them like your best customer, because they are.

The Stalker:  Being persistent is a good quality.  Being a stalker, or over-soliciting, is a bad thing.  Several calls or emails per day?  Demanding to speak to the owner?  DM’ing the owner’s personal social media? Showing up at the front door unannounced?  Not taking ‘No’ for answer? These things will never make a promising start to any business relationship.

Jealousy:  Your product and your brand are your whole life - your distributor knows that!  But to re-iterate, they are running their own business and know that having a variety of options for their B2B customers is often best for everyone involved.  If they pick up a new brand that you have "feelings" about it, remind yourself that this is business and nothing is personal.

Final Verdict

Your distributor can add immeasurable value to your brand and they can often be your #1 customer - find one you can have a good working relationship, do your best to understand that their business needs and don't ever take their support for granted!

Want to get Distributed with Master Minded?
Fill out our application for Brand Distribution HERE!

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