Managing international distributors is important for any company's success and longevity in international markets. It involves overseeing the movement of your products from the time they are manufactured to the time they reach your customers.
This movement of a product or service requires successful pricing, placement, and promotion, which are vital to remaining competitive and keeping your customers happy.
Having the right knowledge and a well-structured plan enables you to expand your brand reach and grow revenue fast. It involves the effective management of international distributors, which makes things easier for buyers.
This means distributors can deliver your products faster, provide a one-stop shopping experience for customers, and offer lower shipping charges. As a result, you get quick turnover and higher profit margins.
The following guide shows you how to manage international distributors successfully.
Assess and strategize regularly: Start from A Bird's Eye View
Starting your assessment with a bird's eye view gives you a clear impression of what's happening with all your international distributors.
When you assess and strategize regularly, you aim to measure their performance so you can evaluate risks, cut costs, and encourage continuous improvement. The following are ways you can strategize the management of your international distributors.
Assess the Operations of Your Distributors
When expanding to international markets, you need to assess the operations of your international distributors regularly. This is because the distribution industry is growing rapidly at a rate of 4.5%, and the market size is expected to reach $11.93 trillion between 2023 and 2032.
With this kind of growth rate, there's fierce competition arising from new trends and changes in supply and logistics. The first step is to assess the tools your distributors are using and evaluate the performance of your products and services so as to gain a competitive advantage.
For example, start by assessing the current processes of your distributors and identifying areas that need improvement.
The assessment should include examining every product or service the distributors are managing. Check their order fulfillment, delivery, and customer service. This will help your distributors address arising issues, optimize their operations, and identify new trends that will help improve sales.
Assess Distributors' Inventory
Inventory planning and optimization are key to selling more products at a reduced cost and increasing revenue. Ensuring your distribution channels are managing their inventory well will lead to more sales.
That means customers will get your products when they need them. This requires you to understand how your product line is moving across all sales subsidiaries. For example, distributors need to ensure they use the right tools to get insight into sales analytics.
The right data will provide information about inventory levels, sales forecasts, and customer demand patterns. This will help in decision-making, and it will reduce issues like stockouts.
Identifying and Tracking Logistics Indicators
When you support the sales team in a target country to measure and track logistics indicators against specific goals, it can lead to long-term sales success. It will also reduce logistics issues.
For example, issues like on-time delivery, cost of delivery, and order accuracy can determine the customer experience. An excellent customer experience means customer satisfaction, which may lead to repeat customers or referrals that increase sales.
Prepare Your Onboarding Process
A good onboarding process strengthens relationships with your international distributors. This is an important part of building distributors' confidence, which positively impacts their performance.
Spending time with new and potential distributors and helping them understand your distribution network is crucial for your short-term and long-term success. It makes the distributors feel welcome as you communicate your distribution strategies and expectations about the collaboration.
The onboarding process should guide the international distributors in launching your brand and making sales with the aim of gaining market share quickly. This involves training your channel partners so they help mitigate risks, streamline processes, and ensure they comply with regulations in different countries. The training should involve administrative duties, product knowledge, marketing, and sales.
As an international business, your aim is to reach international markets with your product or service and get the desired returns. To reach these objectives with your channel partners, you must have an international strategy for marketing that these channels must perform.
After choosing a marketing package, strive to understand the level of commitment of your international distributors. Also, know their financial strength, marketing skills, and image in a particular county.
The image of your distributor in the market will determine the level of success they attain in selling your products.
Refine Your Communication Channels
Effective communication is essential for both new and old international distributors. It helps boost their confidence and provides reassurance that they made a great choice by becoming your channel partners.
Always schedule communication and make it regular. The communication channels can be through email, conferences, calls, or in-person visits.
Allow distributors to give feedback through reports, including formal sales reports. Make these reports easy to write, and set deadlines. Review the reports and communicate back to your international distributors.
Have an Excellent Support
Excellent support comes from a great collaboration with your product distributors. This starts with choosing a distributor that is a good fit for your product. Check their track record and knowledge of the industry.
Knowing the industry well is great sales support in their territory, especially since distributors already have an established relationship with potential partners. They also know the culture, language, rules, and regulations of the country you are targeting.
Engage and Federate Around Your Brand
Although some distributors may offer marketing as part of the services they provide, you need to engage with your brand. If you are entering a new market abroad, work with your international distributors to design the messaging of your product and educate customers about it.
Help distributors promote your product in the target country using ads, brochures, testimonials, business cards, and social media.
Using a website and social media is crucial to establishing an online presence and extending your brand's reach. Make sure the testimonials and all promotions reflect the language and preferences of your local customers.
Maintaining a strong business relationship with distributors is key to successful future deals and business development. A good working relationship will also make it easier for you to get feedback and ideas that will make your product or service better. Here is how you can build a strong and fruitful working relationship with international distributors.
The best way to build trust through openness and transparency is to talk to your distributors regularly. Have clear and effective communication.
Let them know what you're thinking, and appreciate their feedback and opinions. Also, make time to meet your distributors in person. Today, technology makes it easier for international partnerships and collaboration to happen online, but face-to-face conversations can help build stronger bonds.
Appreciate Cultural Differences
Understanding the cultural differences between businesses can help build respect and a stronger relationship with your distributors.
When working with international distributors, cultural differences can sometimes affect business practices. Research and understand them.
You can hire someone specifically to handle culture and understand the different cultural norms and how they affect your business.
Track and Follow up
Tracking and following up with your international distributors helps you take care of your customers. It means being present and available to cater to your customer's needs.
Liaise with your distributors and have a profile of the sales force in their country. Document their roles and keep track of their performance.
Distributors can help do retail follow-ups. They usually do it at the point of sale. This type of follow-up requires a higher-level organization and the best management tools because it has several entities.
Tracking and following up with your distributors and products means you are present and can take responsibility should any problem arise. It allows effective communication and builds a stronger partnership with your international distributors.
Effective management of international distributors involves selling your product or service while ensuring sufficient stock in your distribution channels. It also involves managing marketing and the various requirements of your distributors. The aim is to have an efficient supply chain that leads to lower distribution costs and lower product pricing. Proper distributor management will support your marketing strategy and maximize your returns.