It must be Christmas – receive a free copy of Managing Distributors as Partners

Faced with home market uncertainty, businesses are looking beyond Europe for growth with 10% saying they have never been more determined to develop their export business.

In our recent book we tackle the HOW, providing answers to the challenges below and a whole lot more.

Organisations frequently use distributors when they enter new markets but are either unwilling to take risks (e.g. high set-up costs of a wholly employed sales/marketing team) or are unable to set up stand-alone market operations.

The most common challenges faced are:

  • Difficulties finding distributors who live up to (sometimes excessive or unreasonable) expectations
  • Distributor relationships viewed as short-term and tactical. Lack of long-term strategic market investment
  • Failure to accrue the ‘right’ level of value from the relationship
  • Struggle to get a fair share of mind/voice within the relationship
  • Failure to reward and motivate distributors based on delivery of expectations, resorting to commissions and/or incentives
  • Struggle to ensure their distributors deliver and meet objectives and expectations
  • Time spent on legal/contractual discussions rather than developing business opportunities

Before you do anything; answer these simple killer questions:

  1. Why are you doing this
  2. What are you trying to achieve
  3. What are the available options open to you and which seem the most attractive


  1. Work out the size of the prize
  2. Ask what you would need to do to realise the prize
  3. Understand the internal appetite for going after the prize

If you already have distributors, answer these simple killer questions:

  1. Do you know the quality of the relationship you have with your distributor partner?
  2. Do you know the quality of the relationship your distributor has with your customers?
  3. When was the last time you personally trained the distributor’s sales team?


  • Undertake regular updates within the organisation to manage expectations
  • Visit customers beyond the obvious market in each region to get a view of the distributor’ss operational effectiveness
  • Ensure you have meetings with more than the principal when you visit


So What?

The management and development of effective distributor partners is ‘part art and part science’. It’s a subject that little has been written about or time given to develop a good practice approach to its improvement.

In this book we have taken a logical, practical and pragmatic approach based on years of experience and sound customer management. A distributor relationship is never the finished article as its always ‘work in progress’. You may not end up in exactly the place you intended, however it will be close and you and your partners should be making progress towards common market goals.

Remember this is the start of a journey. Using and applying the thinking in this book will enable you to make your distributor relationships an extension of your organisation and a real value enhancer.

Would you like to know more? Contact:


Mark Hollyoake

Mark Hollyoake is a co-founder and Director of Customer Attuned. Mark is an expert in B2B Customer Experience and Customer Management. He is currently studying for his Doctorate at Southampton University, focused on Trust as a dynamic within business to business customer relationships.Mark has worked with an extensive range of industry sector clients including Diageo, Hornby Hobbies, Bausch & Lomb, Allianz, Kerry Foods, Edwards Life Sciences, Wall Street English, Celesio, ATOS, N&SI, and Nomad Foods.


Chris Hudd

Chris Hudd is an experienced trainer/consultant who has previously worked for several of the UK’s leading consultancies in the B2B training and consulting space. Focussing in sales and key accountmanagement in the pharma, visioncare, FMCG and industrial/B2B sectors and driving sales through third parties. His corporate career has centred on management of major customers in the UK and Spanish FMCG markets [food, beer, wines and spirits ] followed by broader channel management and sales development roles in major UK FTSE 100 companies.


Dr Mark Hollyoake