By Dave Kahle

3 Ways to Encourage Dealers to Sell your Product

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

Q: How do I devise a program from the manufacturer to encourage our dealers to push their sales forces to sell our product instead of some other product, motivate the salesperson to quote our product more frequently in overlapping situations, and appeal to retail users that are taking bids from outside competitors not represented by our distributor?

One problem we continually face is this we have been historically more generous with programs to our distributors but find that it gets put into their gross profit and doesn’t get to the retail end, and we are either not competitive, or not price advantaged. It seems that our distributor network expects it now and doesn’t take it as a bonus. Your thoughts, please?

By Dave Kahle

A: I think too many of us operate on the assumption that money is the only motivator, whether it is for an employee sales force, or a group of dealer or distributor salespeople. I’m coming to appreciate more and more the power of other kinds of motivators.

Let’s start there. Don’t assume that more money in the deal is going to get you the results you want.

What else can you do? The best thing, of course is to have a product that uniquely solves some of the end users’ problems, so that you and your dealers are selling a unique solution. While that may be the ideal, it’s very rarely the real situation, and most products have competitors which, at least in the mind of some customers, are thought of as equal.

Let’s assume that’s your case. Now what?

There are three ways to influence a dealer/distributor sales force to become more active with your product line: relationships, education, and “easy, secure money.”

Let me deal with each:

#1 Relationships

Think of the dealer/distributor reps as customers. Work at creating close business relationships with the good dealer/distributor reps in the same way that you would with end user customers. Focus on the good ones and spend little time with the mediocre. With the higher quality reps, discover their interests, uncover their values, find things you have in common, get to know their spouses and families, spend non-business time with them, etc. As you build strong relationships with them, you’ll find your dealer/distributor reps naturally becoming more involved with your product lines.

#2 Education

Focus on the concept of “comfort zones.” Most dealer/distributor reps have a virtually unlimited number of products that they can promote. Most eventually settle on those products and applications with which they feel most comfortable – they develop product/customer/application comfort zones. If your product or application doesn’t fit into a specific rep’s comfort zone, he/she is going to spend little time with it. So, you must get to know your good distributor reps (see the above) and then you must help them expand their comfort zones to include your products and applications. That means that you must lead the way, showing them how to find the opportunities, how to specify and present your product lines, and how to close and services those sales. Until the distributor rep is comfortable with your products and sales processes, you’ll be swimming upstream.

#3 “Easy, secure money”

Yep, money is still important. But notice the emphasis on the first two words. Easy means that you make it as easy as possible to deal with you, to sell your product. You have the best-selling literature, a generous sample policy, the quickest and most responsive inside people to respond to the dealer’s questions and requests, the simplest price list, the easiest policies and procedures in each of these issues. When your company is easy to deal with and when your product is easy to sell, you’ll find more and more support for it among the dealers and distributors.

“Secure” means that you provide some security for the sales person who decides to spend time promoting your product. You protect that investment of time by making sure that none of his competitors can come into an account and low bid it, after the salesperson has done the work to get your product trialed and accepted. If a dealer rep, invests in selling your product, and experiences a competitor who did, nothing to sell it, come in and steal the business out from underneath him, just once, you will likely lose that rep’s loyalties forever.

Hope these three strategies will help.

Originally published on

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About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and eleven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. His book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Check out his latest book, The Good Book on Business.