Maximizing Sales Through Distributors

In order to be successful in the building materials industry, manufacturers need more than great products that solve problems or wow homeowners. They need distributors who can effectively market and sell those products. To maximize the sales potential through that channel, the manufacturer-distributor relationship cannot be purely transactional.

It must be a strategic partnership built on trust and mutual success. Building those relationships requires careful planning, open communication, and a deep understanding of the distributor’s needs and goals.

In this article, we will provide the 5 keys to maximizing sales through distributors.

Why is the manufacturer-distributor relationship important?

For most building materials manufacturers, it’s not an option to exclusively sell direct to consumers or through big box retailers. And it’s not an option at all for commercial construction materials. They need distributors to sell to the contractors and installers who are the primary purchasers of the products.

Distributors act as intermediaries between manufacturers and end-users, ensuring that the products reach the right markets and customers. They promote and sell their products, and the more support they get from manufacturers, the more effective they are at selling them.

This means manufacturers should be more than a supplier. They need to be a partner. That means building long-term relationships based on trust, collaboration, and mutual success. This partnership approach brings numerous benefits for both manufacturers and distributors.

For manufacturers, becoming a valued partner means access to a wider customer base, increased brand visibility, and improved market penetration. It also allows manufacturers to leverage the expertise and market knowledge of distributors, enabling them to tailor their products and marketing strategies to specific markets.

Distributors also benefit from this relationship by gaining access to high-quality products, technical support, and marketing materials that can help them differentiate themselves in the market. Additionally, they can benefit from co-marketing initiatives and joint promotions, which can boost their sales and strengthen their position in the industry.

5 Keys to strong manufacturer-distributor partnerships

This kind of partnership doesn’t happen by itself. It requires intentionality and commitment by the manufacturer to build the relationship. Here are the five keys to building strong manufacturer-distributor partnerships to maximize sales.

🔑 Clear Objectives and Expectations

First, manufacturers need to establish clear objectives and expectations with their distributors. This will help them (and the distributors) align their goals and define how they will measure success. Typically these objectives and expectations include sales targets, market share goals, and other relevant metrics.

By establishing clear objectives, manufacturers can provide a roadmap for their distributors and themselves. It also provides a yardstick for evaluating the effectiveness of the partnership so that necessary adjustments can be made along the way.

🔑 Effective Communication 

After establishing expectations, communication is the most important aspect to the manufacturer-distributor relationship. Manufacturers should establish regular communication channels to keep distributors informed about product updates, promotions, and any changes that may impact the partnership.

Regular meetings, both in-person with field sales representatives and virtually with company leadership, provides a platform for discussing strategies, sharing insights, gaining feedback and addressing concerns. Feedback is especially important, as distributors often have valuable insights based on customer interactions.

A channel management portal makes it easy for manufacturers to stay in touch with their distributor networks. Manufacturers can send mass emails, direct messages, share materials and articles, and solicit feedback using one simple tool.

Informal interactions, such as social events, industry conferences, and networking opportunities, also go a long way in building personal connections and strengthening the partnership.

🔑 Value-Added Services 

Manufacturers should strive to provide value-added services to distributors. This usually takes the form of technical support, training programs, and marketing assistance offered through the channel management portal.

Technical support can include product training, installation guidance, and troubleshooting assistance. These kinds of services equip distributors with the knowledge and skills they need to sell and support the products, while also enhancing their credibility in the eyes of their customers.

Marketing assistance can involve providing customized marketing materials, co-branding initiatives, and joint promotional campaigns. Manufacturers can collaborate with distributors to create targeted marketing strategies that resonate with the local market. This not only helps in increasing product visibility but also strengthens the relationship between manufacturers and distributors.

🔑 Customized Marketing Materials

In the construction industry, geographic markets are different from one another in many ways. To help distributors in those markets, manufacturers should develop customized marketing materials that cater to their specific needs and preferences, and the dynamics of their customers and marketplace.

Whether it’s brochures, product catalogs, videos, digital assets, or other marketing tools, the materials should connect the selling points of the products to the unique pain points of the target customers. Manufacturers can work closely with distributors to understand their target audience and create marketing collateral that resonates with them.

By providing distributors with tailored marketing materials using the channel management portal, manufacturers enable them to effectively promote the products and differentiate themselves in the market. This not only boosts sales but also strengthens the overall brand image and reputation.

🔑 Training and Support

Finally, comprehensive training and ongoing support are vital for maximizing sales through distributors. This can cover the manufacturer’s products, but it can also help distributors elevate their own skills.

Using their channel management portal, manufacturers can offer training on sales techniques, objection handling, and customer relationship management. In addition to training, manufacturers should provide ongoing support to distributors, including regular visits to distributor locations, joint sales calls, and customer support.

By investing in distributor training and support, manufacturers empower distributors to become product experts and brand ambassadors. This leads to increased customer confidence, higher sales conversion rates, and improved customer satisfaction.

A Channel Management Portal is essential to building distributor partnerships

In summary, achieving sales success in the building materials industry hinges on forming effective manufacturer-distributor partnerships. These partnerships go beyond transactions and rely on clear goals, open communication, and value-added support. By tailoring marketing materials, offering comprehensive training, and utilizing a channel management portal, manufacturers can empower distributors as effective brand representatives. The evolving industry landscape underscores the importance of these collaborations, with the channel management portal playing a pivotal role in fostering connections, enhancing sales, and driving industry progress. Embracing these strategies can lead to shared growth and enduring success.


Want to learn more about how ZiftONE can streamline your dealer/distributor program? Check out our Building Material Manufacturers page.