How often do you ask your dealers and distributors for their opinions? Do you regularly schedule input sessions or conduct surveys to listen to them? Do you know what communications they like to receive from you and which ones they never look at? Have you asked them if your product training materials are adequate? Can you name three business challenges they might be experiencing and what your brand is doing to help them?
Chances are your brand could probably do a better job at listening to and learning from your dealers and distributors.
Think about all the communications you send to them each week, possibly every day! Consider all that you ask them and their staff to learn about your company, your products and services, your features and benefits, etc.
Yes, it’s their job to learn about your product, but remember that communication is a two-way street. Your dealers and distributors want to share feedback and ideas with you. Create regular opportunities to learn more about their challenges, document their best practices, and truly understand what they need from your brand in order to sell more of your products and services.
Here are some ways to actively listen to and seek input from your dealers and distributors:
• Email or website surveys
• Phone interviews
• Interactive webinars
• Focus groups
• Advisory councils
• In-person meetings, summits, and roundtable discussions
• Feedback boxes at events
• Online forums on enterprise social networks, like Salesforce’s Chatter or LinkedIn private groups
Designate an “official listener” on your team who collects and organizes the dealer/distributor input. Think about the different information your brand provides them: sales training, product knowledge, business and selling strategies, industry news, market forecasts, customer insights, etc. Group their input by these major categories so you can begin to find trends and common requests.
It’s important to review the dealer/distributor input on a regular basis; maybe start out quarterly and share your findings with relevant teams. Recommend actionable ideas based on your findings. If dealers/distributors are asking for quick walk-around training videos to learn about new products, share that information with your training team.
Create a list of dealer/distributor contacts you can call on a regular basis to bounce ideas around or to ask more detailed questions. If they work with other brands, ask about new tools or materials that have caught their attention or been particularly valuable to their staff. Some may be willing to share examples with you — it’s always helpful to see what the competition is up to.
The more your team reaches out to dealers and distributors for their feedback and opinions, the more you’ll strengthen this very important partnership with them. Listening and seeking input is just one of five strategies that Two Rivers Marketing recommends to help your brand strengthen your dealer/distributor relationships. Discover the four other strategies in this blog post.
Do you have a new approach for listening and collecting feedback? We’d love to hear about your idea!