Most brands have a love/hate relationship with their brokers and distributors. That’s because brokers and distributors support multiple brands at the same time. This means that they have a limited amount of time to focus their attention on your brand.
Brokers and distributors provide a valuable service helping natural organic brands grow quickly and compete across different channels and with multiple retailers. Few brands have any real insight into their broker’s day-to-day activities. Savvy brands are engaged at every level of their sales funnel.
Some brands inadvertently give their broker/distributor the “keys” to their company and expect them to manage all aspects of their brand’s growth. This is a colossal mistake! The relationship will only work if it is a true partnership. That means that there needs to be clear communication with well-defined expectations, who will be responsible for what. Brands who partner with their brokers and distributors providing them with robust selling tools and support will get the most out of their partnership. Those brands who take a proactive role in directing their broker and distributor’s day-to-day efforts have the greatest opportunity to quickly respond to the ever changing competitive landscape.
Maximize broker/distributor effectiveness
Establish well thought-out strategies and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators are micro strategies) for each of the 5P’s (people (the shopper), promotion, pricing, placement, product).
Clearly define your distribution, merchandising, pricing and promotion objectives and goals. Identify specific target retailers and stores to maximize your distribution in and grow sales. Focus first on the stores where your core customers shop.
Develop a scorecard to track and monitor your broker’s progress. Scorecards assign and measure your objectives and set goals with specific timelines focused on achieving those benchmarks. The scorecard should be a written agreement between both the broker/distributor and the brand. The goals need to be measurable and revisited at least once a month.
Communicate your expertise to the broker/distributor. You are a passionate expert for the brand and the category in which you compete. Give your broker/distributor all the relevant consumer and product information necessary to help them make sales on your behalf and strengthen your relationships with retailers. Selling is either relationship-based or fact-based (category management). The more you support your broker and distributor, the better job they will do for you.
Schedule regular follow-up meetings with your broker and your distributor. Attend retailer meetings with them whenever possible. This illustrates your support for the broker as well as your commitment to the retailer.
Take ownership for all of your communication with retailers including all communication between your sales team, your broker, and distributors. Your broker and distributor should be an extension of your sales team. They need to be on the same page as your internal sales team. This includes all marketing and sales materials, category reviews, and competitive/market/shopper intelligence. You should control the message and the image you want your brand to convey at all times.
The key benefits of doing all of this include:
A unified and consistent message communicated throughout your entire sales funnel including to retailers and shoppers.
Ownership of all category and shopper insights including business reviews and category reviews
Full and complete access to all data, insights, and resources. You choose the insights that best tell your story and address your brand’s needs
You demonstrate that you are the category expert focusing your full undivided attention on growing your brand and supporting retailers. This is how you build trust with retailers
You “own” all your customer relationships. This is critical as you grow and develop your brand. Effectively communicating the passion for your brand is the key to your success. You need to remain the captain of your own ship and keep your hands firmly on the rudder as you build sales and grow your brand.