Many companies struggle to create good experiences and relationships with their indirect sales partners.
How do you find the best partners to work with? How do you create a great partner experience? How do you create an effective indirect sales strategy?
We asked Arjen Ingenbleek, Sales Director for Modular Lighting Instruments, a company that is appreciated by many by its remarkable marketing experience. They call their products Architectural Lighting with an Attitude.
These were the main take-aways of our talk with Arjen.
1. Create Great Products
Start with creating a great product. Your products and services are the foundation of your brand.Indirect sales partners will choose to work with you, based on your product. That’s how they determine whether the partnership is a strategic match. Of course, if they don’t like your product, they won’t be motivated to sell it. That’s it.
2. Find a Strategic Match
Now how do you find the right partner?
You’ll need to determine if it’s a strategic match. This entails being really clear on what your company and your customers want. And assess potential partners based on that. When working with indirect sales partners, there’s always a struggle in terms of interests not being parallel. This doesn’t meant that there should be a complete overlap in terms of business, industry and interests. You only need to find common ground.
3. Don’t Mind Cultural Differences
When you’re working with international businesses, how do you find the right sales partners? Are there differences in various countries? Do you need to create different strategies because of cultural differences?
Arjen found that cultural differences don’t matter. If you’re working with the same type of companies or industries, you’ll find that people work in similar ways.In fact, the commonalities between different partners from different geographies is a lot bigger than their cultural differences. You don’t need to create new strategies for partners, because there are a lot of areas where you can find common ground.
For example, you can focus on digital alignment, instead of culture. Many businesses in Europe and other countries around the globe believe it’s a good starting point.
4. Focus on the Project Level
A lot of articles have recently mentioned that indirect sales and middlemen are about to disappear. Arjen believes otherwise. “I’ve learned over the years that it takes a lot of time to change, especially if you want to fundamentally change the way you cooperate with your partners.
”Instead, create a horizontal relationship with your supplier and customer supply team, where you firmly focus on common interests. In Arjen’s experience, there’s a lot of common ground in the project level.
If you look at the overall business, you’ll talk about incomes, margins and many more. But on the project level, the interests are usually parallel. You focus on making the project a success. You have the same interests and use the same language, and you don’t negotiate.
5. Solve Problems Fast
There’s no single partner that wants problems, but sometimes they’re inevitable. That said—if there are problems, you’ll need to be quick at solving them.
You also need to accept that there will be differences between you and your sales partner. Sometimes you won’t find find common ground or don’t have common interests. That’s fine. Sometimes your dealers have many suppliers. That’s fine.
At the project, level you and your indirect sales partners are one.
Putting It All Together
Here’s what you need to do to establish great relationships with your indirect sales partners:
- 1. Product is important. It’s the basis of your brand and sales partnership.
- 2. Aim for strategic alignment with your sales partner.
- 3. Don’t mind cultural differences.
- 4. Focus on the project level to find common ground.
- 5. Solve problems quickly.