To achieve partnerships that directly benefit your distributorship, work with a manufacturer offering the following services, as suggested by John McKillip, CMO/partner, USA/Docufinish, Plainfield, Ill.:
• Specialized service. Be sure the company you’re dealing with specializes in the product(s) you need. This will go a long way to ensure you’re receiving attention to detail and quality from a company that understands the product(s) your project requires. Ask if the manufacturer is making the products in-house. If not, find out who the manufacturer partners with when hiring an outside vendor, and thoroughly research that vendor’s products and knowledge.
• Satisfaction Guaranteed. Only deal with a company that stands behind its products by offering workmanship guarantees in writing in the company’s literature. Otherwise, you may be left holding the bag should something go awry or if quality issues are encountered.
• Vision. Try to work with a company that has pioneered industry technology and has a reputation as an industry innovator. This will ensure a partnership with a cutting-edge company applying the most modern technology to your project needs. Strong indicators of company vision include industry publication coverage; a consistent, strong trade show and event presence; and awards for innovation.
• Added Value. Ask up front if the company provides free warehousing for its distributors. If this valuable service is unavailable, look elsewhere for it.
• To market, to market. Sell to the marketing side of your accounts—they all have budgets for selling their products and promoting their images, enabling product exposure to the right people. Be sure you’re meeting with the people who make the decisions to buy, as well as those who control the programs.