Do You Have the Right Distributor Relationships?

By Matt McCarthy | September 6th, 2019

Successful manufacturer-distributor relationships are more than transactional. They’re built on communication, expertise, experience, and trust.

You’ve entrusted your distributors with getting your products to the right places. They should know what they’re selling and how it can support your customers in their goal of keeping pets healthy and vet practices cutting edge. But arming them with the right knowledge, maintaining the right contacts, maximizing your reach, and preventing diversion can prove a difficult task.

Ask yourself these four questions to start moving your distributor relationships beyond an exchange of goods and services and find a partner who fights in your corner.

Do They Understand Your Product?

Distributors have to move a lot of products and don’t always have time to become an expert in yours. This can pose a problem for you when they’re your primary mouthpiece to communicate the benefits of your products to vets.

Are they able to compare the quality of your product with its competitors? Do they know the features, benefits, and key selling points? Do they have data and collateral to back up their claims? Do they understand these vets well and know how their practices work? These are all factors that help vets make informed decisions for their practices and pet owners for their beloved pets.

This is one way your master distributor partner can support you. Since their team is integrated with yours, they have expert knowledge of your business goals, product specifications, and performance, and they can arm their member distributors with the right marketing collateral and product knowledge to be able to successfully sell your products.

Do They Have the Right Contacts?

Whether you’re an established manufacturer already well connected in the animal health market or you’re just breaking in, your contacts are likely one of your greatest assets — and biggest struggles.

Not only do you need to manage a range of distributor relationships, but they also need to have connections to vets and retailers across the country. The right master distributor can solve this problem too. At EPiQ Animal Health, for example, we have more than 40,000 veterinarian connections to sell your product to, and we manage the distributors for you.

Do They Get Your Products in the Right Hands?

When it comes to e-commerce, selling your product gets even more complicated. Large online retailers often end up with product that’s yours — but it didn’t come from you or through the appropriate channels — meaning there’s no way for you to know that your product is there, and thus no way for you to track customer reviews or adverse events.

You need two things to prevent that from happening: distributors you trust to get your products in the right hands and not divert them, and collaborations with online retailers to ensure they only get your products from you. Those are two things your master distributor can handle for you too.

Do They Have Skin in the Game?

If your distributors aren’t partners who are integrated into your business and invested in your success, they’re not as motivated to prioritize your goals. This is why having a master distributor is truly invaluable. Not only do they manage so many of the logistics and sales techniques along your supply chain, but they also should act as an expert consultant for you. Since they are dedicated to ensuring your success and not just their own, you can trust that they are doing everything in their power to help your product achieve its end goal.

Contact EPiQ Animal Health to learn more about managing your distributor relationships.

About the Author

Matt McCarthy is sourcing and procurement manager at EPiQ Animal Health. With previous experience as a distribution buyer and management for a third-party logistics company, Matt brings a wealth of operational and purchasing experience to exceed customers’ expectations. Outside of work, Matt enjoys competitive bass fishing, football, rooting for the Buckeyes, and spending time with his nieces and nephews. Matt has a Bachelor of Science in business administration from The Ohio State University.
Matt McCarthy
Sourcing and Procurement Manager

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