What can your integration firm do to maintain valuable manufacturer partnerships?
It’s no secret that NSCA integrator members are looking for ways to form lasting relationships with the manufacturers and distribution companies that sell exclusively through the channel.
But what can your company do to maintain these manufacturer partnerships? Believe it or not, it starts with the basics.
1. Prepare and Educate Your Sales Reps to Maintain Manufacturer Partnerships
Make sure that every sales rep understands the technology they’re selling: what it can do, when and where it should be used, its limitations, etc. They should know the manufacturer’s solutions well enough that they don’t misrepresent them to customers or require repeated explanations by manufacturers about what the solution can or can’t do. Your sales team should also understand what types of challenges the technology solution can overcome, and the business outcomes it can help create.
To properly education your team, this may mean taking advantage of manufacturer-offered training programs to learn more about not only the organization and its solutions, but also the people inside the organization who can support you. It’s a chance to learn about all their product offerings, see how their products work, and keep your company front of mind by being active and engaged.
2. Connect with Manufacturers in Person When Possible
When you’re attending conferences or tradeshows, take a minute to visit the booths of your manufacturer partners. There may even be opportunities for you to collaborate or combine resources at the event.
These venues can serve as valuable opportunities for you to meet the manufacturers you’re actively working to maintain relationships with. They also provide the chance for you to learn more about the company itself, its products and how they’ve evolved, how they’re addressing feedback from end-users, and what they’re working on next.
3. Keep Manufacturers in the Loop on Deals
When it makes sense, share proposal details early. Account reps can provide insights into things like supply chain availability and discounts to help you win deals. They also appreciate having this information for their own forecasts.
When they know about projects early, manufacturers can help you prepare, identify the right products for a proposal, and come up with pricing strategies. Be sure to discuss things like:
- What the customer wants to accomplish
- Whether the solution will provide the expected ROI
- Unique design requirements that must be met
- The project’s schedule and budget
Keeping them involved pays off.
Many of our members use NSCA’s vendor scorecard. It was developed several years ago to help integrators evaluate manufacturers and distributors and develop their own preferred vendor program. Over time, we’ve made many customizations, additions, and expansions to the scorecards. The scorecard has also helped our members make some pretty big decisions about who to work with—and who not to. If you want to use this tool, just send us a note. We’ll make sure you have access!