Managing a distribution channel is not a case of ‘set and forget’.

If you want consistent sales growth, good distributor relationships and customers that love your products, you must manage the entire channel proactively, supporting distributors so that they can (and want to) offer your products in the best light.

At Axente we believe that sales agents should play a vital role in managing the channel, anticipating potential issues and proactively providing solutions. Let’s explore four ways that sales agents can help you prevent problems from becoming crises.

Dealing with unexpected problems

However organised your team, and however competent your partners, you will always encounter unexpected problems. The real skill is in responding calmly to challenges and finding the best possible solution. After many years of selling to distributors, we’ve experienced many of the usual challenges – such as stock shortages, lost deliveries and incorrect orders – and we know exactly how to respond.

Anticipating issues

Far better than reacting to problems, we always aim to anticipate potential problems before they arise. We do this, in part, by understanding the processes and requirements of our vendors and our distributors. By understanding every stage of every process, we can ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

Regular stock reports

We check stock reports every week, and then recommend a stock profile to distributors, helping to ensure they hold the optimal balance of each product, given past sales and expected demand. This process is about more than cultivating demand; it’s about ensuring our distributors are only ever holding the right stock to fulfil orders.

Managing orders

Our work doesn’t end with the order. We care about the entire transaction, from inception to completion, and consider it our job to ensure that every order is successfully delivered, on-time and as expected. By taking responsibility for the orders we generate, we improve the chances of our distributors having a positive experience of your brand.

Constant contact

As sales agents, we know that regular contact with distributors is important. In addition to building strong relationships, regular contact enables us to gauge the mood of the sector and to understand distributors’ internal pressures and goals. We can then adapt your offering to suit the distributor, constantly tweaking our approach so that you act in harmony with the distributor.

These are just a few of the ways that we proactively manage the distribution channel for our vendors. What do you think? Do you have any channel management tips?