7 min read

How to Find the Right Distributor for Your Startup

Let’s be honest, finding the right distributor can be one of the most frustrating and time-consuming tasks for a manufacturer. It’s true, there are many excellent distributors out there but at the same time, substandard service exists everywhere and within distribution it is no different.

As a startup, you need to pay close attention to certain factors and take time to choose trusted distributors that will deliver a level of service that will help your business grow in new markets. With this in mind, the right distributor can significantly grow your business in the target market or stall it.

But how can you find the right distributors to get your product out there?

Well, this is where research and experience comes into play.

How to Find the Right Distributor for Your Business

While the steps to finding a distributor are relatively straightforward, every situation is unique and every manufacturer requires a slightly different approach. There are four ways to find the right distributor for a startup or new business:

Attending International Trade Shows

An international trade show is one of the few occasions in which you can literally place your product in the hands of the target market. If you can afford an exhibit booth, this is highly influential and a major opportunity for branding but it’s essential that the trade show is aligned with your niche market.

At the same time, this method is the most costly and time consuming one. If you have no previous experience with the specific show it can turn out to be a complete waste of money and mostly time and resources wasted. Preparing for a show can take up to 3-4 months on average, renting the space, deciding to rent or buy a booth display, brand it to fit your company image and then comes the logistics. Shipping your products to the show and the cost of sending 2-3 sales reps, flight, hotel and food to work the booth for an average of 4-6 days show. Not forgetting that they will only be focused on the show meaning their existing clients will not receive the service they require during this time. On average this all can add up to a cost of 35,000 dollars for a 10-15 meter square booth. The ROI can then only be calculated after all the leads have been followed upon which in reality rarely happens correctly. Most distributors and retailers have already forgotten about your product a week later or they are impossible to reach. Going to trade shows can be  great if you have the right skill set to turn all the efforts in successful return on investment.

Cold Calling

As you may know, cold calling distributors around the world may seem as the most cost efficient way to reach the right distributor in your target market. Although the success rate is very small, a mere 1-3% on average. Research shows that sales people spend about 75% of their time calling on existing customers.

At the end what may seem as the cheapest way it can cost business greatly when they review the sales reps results at the end of the quarter or even the year. Spending on average 50,000 dollar on sales rep can be though for a small business if the results are missing.

Targeting the Market through Direct Mail Advertising

You will often find that Trade Associations have access to targeted mailing lists to connect you with distributors in specific markets, mostly it’s within the same country, like in the US, list of distributors in different states. If you want to grow your business in international markets you would have to find Trade Associations specifically in those countries. These mailing lists are generally a database collecting distributors name, email address and if lucky a phone number without really qualifying them. Depending on the price it can be interesting for some businesses. Direct email campaigns can be effective but it’s important to have a strategy for this advertising and not simply one email at the ready. That is to say, these campaigns are only worthwhile if you follow them up effectively.

How do you know which Distributor is right for Your business

Establishing the First Point of Contact

When you enter an agreement with any distributor, it’s important to know that you have the right person in front of you. For this reason, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for references and any information which might suggest compatibility or possible conflicts of interest.

For example, if you find a distributor who sells similar products for another manufacturer, it’s usually best to move on elsewhere. As for compatibility, some distributors are better positioned to sell within certain regions or industries and this can significantly improve your chances of success.

Ensuring Trust and Competence

Trust is imperative and one of the founding blocks of any arrangement with distributors. However, competence is also key and unfortunately, nowhere near as common. In some cases, distributors can be inaccurate or unreliable and this is usually obvious when it comes to filling orders. That being said, it’s often too late by the time you realize such incompetence and the only way to avoid this happening is to ensure that you choose a trusted and reliable distributor.

Finding a Trusted Distributor

For many manufacturers, they are simply without the time or experience to research and locate the best distributors. Trust is the most important factor in terms of finding a distributor but the truth is, not every distributor is created equal. What’s more, they might have found a number of distributors but then struggle to validate any of the above. The time and research you put into this process will often determine the quality, reliability and success of your future business.

Finding the Right Distributor for Future Success

 At TradesNest we can assist your business to find a trusted distributors in over 80 countries around the world within different industries.  

TradesNest offers manufacturers and distributors the right tools to connect with each other in a very time and cost efficient way. Our team of experts have created an environment where it’s easy to communicate with potential partners and quickly take your business relationship to the next level.

If you have any questions or need assistance with this process, get in touch, and we can help you find the right distributor to move your business forward!