Get More Customers By Adding Sales Channels
As hard as you may try to get out there and let people know about your company and your
services and products, you can only reach so many people by yourself. Hiring additional staff
is one way to increase your visibility to potential customers, but it's not the only way. Here's
a business management tip for you. One of the best ways to multiply your efforts, and your
sales, is to add outside sales channels to help you sell your wares.
Sales is a numbers game. If you want to continue to grow beyond a certain size you will
reach a point where you need to get outside partners offering the value you bring to as many
customers as possible. There are four common sales channels that businesses commonly use to
expand their reach to a wider marketplace.
Direct sales is the cornerstone of many successful sales organizations. Direct sales
refers to sales people that work for you and take your product and service offerings to the
end customers. Most successful businesses have sales people dedicated to selling the solutions
of that business, but businesses that only sell through their salaried sales people are missing
out on a lot of opportunity.
Distributors and Affiliates
Distributors and affiliates are people that take your solutions to different markets
in exchange for a sales commission. The primary value that distributors and affiliates bring
is their ability to contact people that you would not otherwise be able to contact, and to
provide front line support for simple questions. By adding distributors to your sales network
you broaden your market into areas that might not even think of entering, let alone know how
to enter successfully.
Distributors also bring value to your cash flow. Think about this. If you hire an additional
sales person you need to start paying them right away. It may take them several months before
they sell enough to cover the cost of their salaries, but they still need to be paid during
that time. Simply put, you need money up front to hire a sales person.
Affiliates and distributors on the other hand get paid when they sell something. They
are willing to do this because you pay them a handsome commission when they do sell
something; more than you would pay a salaried sales person. The advantage to them is that
they make more per sale. The advantage to you is that you only pay them when they actually
sell something and make you the money to pay them from.
Depending on the type of product or service you offer, it may make sense to offer distributors
exclusive rights to a certain part of the market to ensure that they don't have to compete
against another vendor offering the same solution. Competing vendors can bring you into a price
war situation and ultimately lower the value of your offering. On the surface this may seem
like a good idea if the price drops come out of your distributors' profit margins and not yours,
but be careful.
In the long term, you succeed by helping your customers succeed, and distributors
are really your customers. They essentially buy stuff from you at a discount, and resell it
to others. If you set them up to succeed, they will help you for years to come. If you set
them up to fail by putting too many competitors in their market space for example, then when
they fail you fail.
There are many advantages to using distributors and affiliates to extend your sales reach.
Every business should consider whether adding this sales channel makes sense for them.