Activating Your Distributor Network in Europe in 5 Steps
In one of our earlier blogs, Business Development Manager James Dahoe, already spoke about the importance of qualifying your distributors in Europe. This will enable you to partner with companies that can help make your product a success in Europe.
After you found that partner, the work is far from done. You have to collaborate and keep your distributor engaged to get the most out of your partnership.
Today we speak to our Business Development Manager Olga Hoving about the 5 steps to take to activate your distributor network in Europe.
Step 1 – Finding the distributor that is willing to make an effort
After a critical qualification process you have found that partners in Europe who is just as excited about your products as you are and who is keen to start introducing it to their market. If you are introducing a fairly new technology into the market, you will be partnering with a distributor who knows it takes time to introduce this into the market, who has the right contacts to approach and is willing to invest their time in promoting new technology.
If you are offering a product which is not difficult technically, you may have chosen the distributor who has a local sales force on the ground. They are already visiting all your potential customers and are eager to add a new product to their portfolio and promote this actively during their visits to customers.
Step 2 – Provide your distributor with the right marketing tools
To help your distributor get started, you will need to provide them with marketing tools. In Europe pretty much every country has a different language. You have to be open to get all your marketing content translated into a local language. Provide your distributor with content and pictures for their website and a marketing brochure in their own language.
If you are working with a translation agency it is always a good idea to ask your distributor to check the translated content and make sure it is properly done with the right wording. Olga mentions: Don’t forget about the importance of providing your distributor with a product for demonstration. People often like to see a product before they will decide to buy it.
In case of new technology your customer may like the option to try this for a few weeks, before they will decide to go ahead with a purchase.
Think about the right strategy to demonstrate your products to potential customers.
Step 3 – Train your distributor and their sales force
Everybody can be more successful in selling a product, if they fully understand what they are selling. Olga says when stretching the importance of taking the time to train your new sales team.
Consider an onsite training at the location of your distributor. They can invite their full sales team. This will also give you the opportunity to demonstrate your products.
Be aware that the local sales team may not all be fluent in English. Work with your main contact to organize a training with maximum impact. Make sure you have a translator on site, who has already studied your product and the marketing materials.
If you are not able to organize a training on site, an online training can also be a good replacement. The same applies to be prepared and have a contact who can translate if needed. In this case it would also be great to have some short video’s to demonstrate your product to your audience.
In both cases, take the time to answer all the questions. This way the sales team can become experts of your products in Europe.
Step 4 – Work on a marketing plan together
Check with your distributor on their marketing plan, Olga mentions as a next step. Make sure they have actions in their plan to promote your brand and products. If your distributor sends out newsletters, make sure to supply them with content to promote your brand.
Is your distributor exhibiting at and interesting trade show? Why not talk about space on the stand for your product and mark those dates in your agenda to attend the trade show together.
Is your distributor working on digital marketing campaigns? Talk about setting up some campaigns together.
Step 5 – Work together on sales opportunities
Now your distributor is trained and all the marketing is sorted it is time for sales!
Check in with your distributor on a regular basis. Find out about the feedback they get from potential clients, this will help you to understand the local market.
Checking in with your distributor on a regular basis will make sure they keep your product in mind for promotion and allows you to change the course together if needed.
Be open to visit some potential clients together with the sales team. They can setup all the right meetings for you and you can help them to sell the first products. Visiting potential customers together will train the sales team even further and will increase the opportunity of success for your brand and products in Europe.
EuroDev, established in 1996 with offices in The Netherlands and France, has a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. We have created a proven, successful business development model and since our founding, have partnered with over 300 companies to help them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing and Digital Marketing.
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