How do your products reach your end customer? Do you use direct sales, reps, distributors, retailers or a combination of channels?
Small and midsize manufacturers often feel lost in the crowd of vendors vying for the customers’ attention. In the electronics industry, many suppliers sell products through distributors. These distributors use “line cards”—literally, a card listing the names of the vendor lines they carry—to communicate to customers. On some line cards, “Bob’s Computer Chips Inc.” (Not an actual example) is listed right alongside Intel. Which company do you think is going to ignite a customer’s interest?
Smaller companies often make the mistake of trying to reach out to everyone through the biggest channel they can find. Smaller, specialized distributors are often a better choice because:
• You won’t be competing directly with the giants of the industry
• Your distributor has more time—and more resources—to devote to selling your product
• Specialty distributors usually focus on one “flavor” of product and become experts in that area. For instance, in electronics, computer chips actually make up a very small portion of the “stuff” that makes a computer work. The distributors that focus on that other stuff actually do very well
• Your resellers actually know who you are. Specialty distributors don’t have to know a little about a lot of products—they know a lot about a few, selected vendors. They can market your product based on its merits—not just on your name