Channel Management – Working With Distributors

Beware Black Widows and Vultures!

Working with distributors creates a whole menagerie of animal-like selling and buying behaviours.


Pure partnership’, ‘consultative selling’ and ‘key account’ principles do not always apply quite so neatly in the world of the reseller and a different perspective must be taken to ensure sales success.

Working through distributors and wholesalers is one of the more complex sales scenarios. However it is also one of the least understood and so poorly catered for in the training world (as a result of the difficulty in identifying and modelling the success factors).

Structured Training have a course which has been developed with the most up to date thinking from our extensive experience working with distribution networks in both the UK and Europe.

Designed around applied best practice, the session will encourage participants to take a new look at their approach and develop a working template and business plan for developing sales.


This two-day session is aimed at distributor managers and sales managers who have a ‘distributor’ channel and wish to build on their existing experience and skills.
Managing distributors is often seen as a matter of ‘servicing’ the account, and this can put the distributor manager in a ‘one down’, supplication relationship with their customer. Yet the modern way of looking at distribution networks is to see them as partnerships rather than customers, and as an important part of the overall sales and marketing strategy for your company.

This course looks at the detailed and often complicated relationship between marketing, motivation and sales management to really drive the business through the distribution channel.

After attending this course participants will have the ability to:

  • Understand the three key aspects of Channel Management:
    • Marketing
    • Motivation
    • Sales
  • Recognise the key elements of the distributors mindset
  • Apply marketing principles to create a powerful business proposition
  • Motivate distributors through management of main business drivers
  • Formulate an account plan specific to the distributorship and business circumstances
  • Define and use elements of a contract based ‘Development Matrix’
  • Empathise more with the distributors both from the point of view of the Distributor Principals and their sales team



  •  What is Channel Management?
  • Definitions and application
  • Distributors, wholesalers, resellers
  • Trade and retail
  • Working Fundamentals
  • Profit Parity – business for everyone
  • Winning ‘Brainspace’ – internal competition
  • Black Widows and Vultures – supplier and customer mindsets
  • Mushroom Effect – use and abuse of information
  • Authentic Behaviour
  • ‘MMS’ Model
  • Marketing – 4 Ps and beyond
  • Motivation – Paying EXTRA attention
  • Sales – 2 Page Plan and ‘Development Matrix’


  • Managing the Marketing Mix
  • Introducing the 4Ps
  • Product – Understanding the whole offer
  • Place – Investigating all routes to market
  • Price – Adopting the right policy
  • Promotion – Maximising all the elements
  • Extended Marketing Mix
  • Adding the 7Ps
  • People – Sales, customer service (and customer!)
  • Process – Appying the Marketing Mix
  • Physical Evidence – Dealing with intangibles
  • The 8th and 9th  Ps
  • Packaging –  First contact
  • Philosophy – Organisational ethos and introduction rationale


  • ‘Managing’ the Distributor
  • Effecting direction and control on a separate entity
  • Manipulating main business drivers
  • Attention to EXTRA elements
  • Earnings
  • Raison d’etre of distributor
  • Establishing ‘fair’ profit balance
  • Quantifying ‘goodwill’
  • Avoiding investment ‘double counting’
  • Principles of Negotiation
  • ‘If I… Then You…’
  • eXcitement
  • Basis of strong Communication
  • Emphasising ‘WIIFM’
  • Promoting Brand and Image
  • Joining the Family
  • Training
  • Ensuring optimum sales effort
  • Product knowledge and process efficacy
  • As a PR opportunity
  • ‘Reverse Training’ – educating Internal teams
  • Results
  • MBO – Management By Objectives
  • Setting targets – minimum standards to stretch
  • Using ‘dashboard diagnostics’
  • Planning and implementing Incentives
  • Actions
  • Progressing and encouraging sales activity
  • Implementing appropriate promotions
  • Considering the importance of effective Product Management
  • Nurturing and developing the Product Manager
  • Searching for ‘Ambassadors’


  • Using the ‘2 Page Plan’
  • Setting SMART Objectives
  • Plotting the Organisation structure
  • Conducting a SWOT Analysis
  • Surveying Competitive landscape
  • ‘Development Matrix’
  • Elements of the ‘Contract’
  • Defining scope of criteria vs sales activity
  • Scoring and developing action plans
  • Reviewing and rewarding top performers
  • Dynamic Tensioning
  • Applying focus of internal promotions
  • Mixing tools and incentives
  • Considering distributor, sales person, customer
  • Putting it All to Work
  • Designing and owning your Personal Development Plan
  • Prioiritising action points
  • Maximising input from others
  • It starts now!