If you have a new product that you want to get on store shelves or in the hands of online retailers, chances are you’ll want to work with a manufacturer sales rep or distributor. But you don’t want just any old distributor – you want to work with a distributor you can count on to do the job and one that is a right-fit for your unique business needs.
To help you, I have provided several tactics below that you can employ to identify potential distributor candidates to rep your products:
Search Online: The Internet has made it easy to connect product manufacturers with distributors. Simple Google searches can help you create a short list of several distributors that might be qualified to rep your brand. If they popped up in your search results, it’s likely they are working hard to grow their businesses and the businesses of those they represent. Remember, just because you find someone on the Internet doesn’t mean they’re 100% legit. Always do your due diligence – check with the Better Business Bureau, ask for a list of current clients, and don’t be afraid to call those clients for a reference. When interviewing distributor candidates, ask good questions to gauge how hard the company works for its brands, what the industry thinks of the distributor’s reputation, etc.
Ask Around: Another way to identify a distributor for your brand is to research like-minded brands and see whom they recommend. At Green Team Distribution, we specialize in distributing eco-friendly children’s products – this means we represent everything from an eco-friendly nail polish company to eco-friendly toys. If you’re an eco-friendly hair care company and admire an eco-friendly cloth diaper brand, then ask the company for a referral to their distributor – chances are if they’re willing to recommend someone, they are happy with their partnership and think you will be too.
Attend Tradeshows: If you’re able to exhibit at a tradeshow, it’s possible many distributors interested in representing your product will approach you. Shake a lot of hands and collect many business cards – this is a great way to establish a personal one-on-one relationship with a potential distributor candidate. Post-show, do your research on the people you enjoyed talking with most. Chances are you’ll find some great connections this way – and you know these distributors are working tradeshows hard, a quality that may be important to your brand too. If you’re unable to exhibit at a tradeshow, attend the show and request the attendee list.
Read Trade Magazines: Distributors specializing in your industry will often advertise in magazines important to your industry – they may even be contributing content to those magazines too. Flip through the pages of your industry’s trade magazines and look at both the content and advertisements – you might find a good distributor who wants to work with brands exactly like yours! Personally, I’d prefer to work with a brand that actively promotes itself – it’s a good sign they’ll be working hard to promote you (as its client) too.
Contact Your Trade Organization: Does your industry have a trade association? If so, check the organization’s website for a listing or directory of potential distributors. It’s likely the association will want to connect great brands with great distributors and help cultivate commerce within the industry.
Taking the steps to find a good manufacturer sales rep partner is the first of many steps you’ll take on your journey to grow your business. Remember to always do your due diligence on any candidate by interviewing them, checking references, researching the business online, and of course, trusting your gut. Good luck!