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Guest Column What does a distributor want from a manufacturer?

What does a distributor want from a manufacturer?

Ritesh Sheth of Tejas Consultancy presents his charter of expectations from fund houses
Ritesh Sheth Oct 31, 2012

Ritesh Sheth of Tejas Consultancy presents his charter of expectations from fund houses

I have been involved in the mutual fund distribution to retail clients for all my business life of over 23 years. Working primarily with mutual funds as a product, I have literally spent years with investors. I can say that sitting in front of the investors and listening to them critique, complain and admonish has given me a unique perspective. I‘m the guy who often takes the heat if something goes awry. It‘s then that you learn, during those critical moments, what should I (distributor) expect from the mutual fund company (the manufacturer)

Transparency

Transparency suggests the manufacturer sees the distributor not merely as a customer but also as a partner. It implies their futures are intertwined and that by sharing information and knowledge that they are more likely to be successful together.

“We pride ourselves on our transparency. If you ask us a question (with the exception of sales figures), we will answer it, whether it reveals our beauty marks or our age spots.” A simple open dialogue like this goes a long way towards creating a shared bond, a partnership.

Innovation

Distributors want to be on the cutting edge. Years ago it was exclusivity. In today‘s world, it is service, design, or sometimes price. Distributors expect manufacturers to react to market changes and to create new, exciting products or designs. Every sales person wants a reason to contact their customers. A distributor is always looking for that kind of WOW response from their clients. Now that is innovation!

Reaction

All of us are human. Manufacturers, distributors, investors . . . we all have that one thing in common. We all make mistakes. How we react to those mistakes determines a great deal about your character. Many times the distributor is in the middle of a situation. Regardless of who, what, why, or where something went wrong, the investor is unhappy and the distributor relies on the manufacturer for help. The very last thing a distributor wants to hear from their manufacturer are these few words, “There is no way that can happen”.

What the distributor wants to hear:

  1. You have a solution
  2. You are going to implement that solution quickly
  3. We are going to discuss this again after the client is satisfied and make sure that we take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.

They want a quick, effective resolution. If you want to maintain them as your distributor, you as a manufacturer, better provide that to your customer!

Marketing/Leads

In today‘s world, distributors expect a manufacturer to help them marketing by giving them the tools necessary to reach their client base and beyond. They expect update on each new development because that is what matters most .

In addition, they expect marketing support – such as custom branded literature or websites. Investor meets, referral program, customized product notes, maturity update etc. These tools put marketing back in each distributor‘s hands to modify to their market and their corporate image. They want autonomy and will go to great lengths to get it. Providing online transaction facility is a terrific example. It‘s a comprehensive facility through the help of java web application modules which is less expensive and communication tool customized for each distributor‘s website. No one distributor could create and maintain it. But collectively, it allows everyone to benefit with minimum expense and time commitment.

I am positive there are things I haven’t touched on here, but from my experience, if you follow these basics, you are far more likely to have happy and successful long term customers/distributors.

The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cafemutual.

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