Smaller component suppliers sometimes have a hard time getting the personal attention of big distributors. If you are number 47 on the list of DC-DC converter suppliers, your product might not be mentioned by a distributor's applications engineer. If yours is not a household name, a salesperson is likely to steer a customer toward a more familiar product. In both cases, the customer might not end up with the best solution.
The specialty distribution model can be a win-win for both suppliers and customers for a number of reasons…
Specialized distributors focus on you (and your customer): So how do we break the cycle of the tail (distributor) wagging the dog (customer)? Enter the world of franchized niche distributors. Niche distributors carry a limited number of lines that are highly complementary. Customer focus likewise is narrow. If your product line is specialized, your product matches with the target industry's, and it requires above-average design-in support, chances are a smaller distributor might be worth signing on.
What you can expect: Suppliers get more leverage with their product group if there's just a handful of lines available. Because a niche distributor's line card is narrowly focused, the distributor can better collaborate with manufacturer's reps. A focused distributor has the time to learn about your products in depth rather than just grasp a few key features. Each product can be handled as a “marquee” line. Finally, because of the high level of technical involvement up front, you can expect motivated after-sales support.
How to spot a good specialized distributor: Does it have the industry experience, the technical know-how, a synergistic alignment, and customer focus to succeed as your partner? In addition, make sure best industry practices are being followed. Ask how many relevant customer contacts are in its database to which your message is being broadcast. Inquire and review its marketing plans and consider entering into a co-op marketing agreement.
A niche distributor can give both suppliers and customers a lot of “face time.” Let us know if the model works for you.