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6 Best Practices to Building a Strong Relationship with your Distributor

Jenny Gillard

Aug 3, 2021

Distribution Net 4

Our top tips to making the most of these important business relationships, and ensuring that you and your distributors are pulling in the same direction

Author: Jenny Gillard Jenny is Chief Commercial Officer for Pivotal Scientific.

Jenny Gillard

As a supplier, you may very well know that having a strong relationship with your distributors is a key factor for the success of your products in their respective territories. And that when you and your distributors work in the same direction and align your visions together, it is much easier for both of you to achieve your goals and find success.

But do you sometimes experience issues with your distributors that hinder your success? And do you wish you knew how to make the most out of your relationships?

Pivotal Scientific has asked our Recommended Distributors, for their perspectives on how to foster a strong, mutually beneficial supplier-distributor relationship. And so, here are some tips that you can implement and practice from today to make the most out of your existing distributor relationships:

1) Share your USPs:

Distributors generally like to know what sets each supplier apart from their competitors. In other words, what makes your products special? What Unique Selling Points (USPs) – certain features, characteristics or production methods – set your products apart from other Suppliers?

Ensuring this information is readily available and shared with your distributors is likely to boost your sales success, because it makes the story easier for distributors to understand and, in turn, market accordingly.

NB: The majority of distributors have a large number of suppliers, so taking the time to make the key take-home message for your brand or products simple will serve you well in the long run!

2) Keep your distributor circle small:

Many of our Recommended Distributors reported on how frustrating and demotivating it can be to learn that they are one of the numerous distributors for a supplier in a territory. The distributor is often left feeling that the time and resource they put into marketing the products was wasted, particularly as another distributor may have been benefitting from it.

Therefore, it is recommended that a supplier appoint just one distributor per territory (Exclusive or Sole) as this demonstrates to the chosen distributor that the supplier will also invest in making the working relationship a success.

Where the supplier prefers a non-exclusive distributor set-up, it is recommended NOT to have more than 2 per territory.  Again, this also helps build trust, which makes it easier for suppliers and distributors to align their visions and goals to achieve mutual success.

3) Keep in touch:

Feedback from our distributors would show that they appreciate it when a supplier is in regular contact with them. So, by setting up a bi-weekly call to check in on how the distributors are doing and learn if you can offer them verbal or information support will only improve the working relationship and build more trust.

Investing time in your relationship with your distributor, even if briefly, will show your distributor that you care and will provide more opportunity for you to share any new important updates or notes that may support the success of your products in their territory.

4) Distributor = part of your sales team:

Leading on from point 3, distributors appreciate it when they feel like they are actively involved in your development and success as a supplier and that their work matters to you. Therefore, a sure way to have your distributor motivated is to treat them like they are a member of your own sales team.

As well as checking in with them, share with them! This can include updating them about things like new products in the pipeline, sharing sales targets and even marketing information. Again, this will reinforce the relationship with your distributor.

5) Keep your distributor updated:

Distributors commented on their frustration when they are not informed of important updates. Examples of this include product changes or errors with product links or webpages. For distributors, when a URL link you provided to them changes or no longer works, it has a significant negative effect on their reliability with their customers.

Therefore, we recommend that you update your distributor with any changes or errors as soon as possible, so that they are not negatively affected.

6) Data management and accessibility:

Finally, some of our Recommended Distributors commented that a major inconvenience they sometimes experience is when Supplier’s product data is either disorganized, hard to access and copy, or full of errors. These issues put more pressure and stress on the Distributors, which in turn can lead them to “switch off” from you as a Supplier because it will take time to sort.

Therefore, we recommend that you keep your data organized and easy to access. Finding more convenient methods, such as cloud-based storage platforms, to share things like product information or price lists and ensuring that the text you send are SEO-ready will make your distributor’s job easier, and will allow them to focus on the marketing and sale of your products.


We hope that these tips either reassure you of your current practice or inspire you to provide your distributors with time and material which will make their job easier and, ultimately, achieve greater success when it comes to marketing and selling your products worldwide!

We also appreciate that it is a tricky exercise to find those reliable distributors to expand your worldwide presence in the market, which is why we created a list of Recommended Distributors in our PSL Alliance family. Please contact us if you would like an introduction!

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