Starting Your Own Company? 3 Things You Need to Know About Getting Your Product a Distributor

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By Richard K. Noots

Your business is finally all set up. You’ve got everything all set up and you’ve finally begun to get your product, whatever it is exactly, manufactured. All that’s left is to make sure you have a place to sell it. Perhaps you have your own website, and you’re already establishing a customer-base that way. Awesome. Maybe you’re calling stores and making deals on an individual basis, kind of like the way salesman of old did it.

That’s all well and good, but what about getting your own distributor? You know, someone who can include your product in their sales catalog that goes out to their customer basis. Hopefully, you’re already consider doing all three options. If not, start doing so. However, today we will look at what exactly you should know when it comes down to trusting a distributor to handle your product and sales, so you can get a leg up on the industry!

#1) What Your Distributor Wants to Know About You

Before anything, it’s time to make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row. The first thing any good distributor is going to want to know is the level of profit they can make on your product, like and self-respecting business man. They’ll also want to know the cost of stocking and filling your product, whether it’s scalable (what you will charge, what the distributor charges and what the retailer will charge according by profit margins) and if you’re selling any other products as well.

You have to be able to prove you can make a profit. No matter how exciting or innovative your product is, no one will want to help you distribute it if you can’t show them that it’s worth their investment. So, work practice your sales pitch. Expect questions like:


  • How much profit can we make off his product–both per unit and in total?
  • Can we make a better profit selling his product compared with selling a similar product?
  • Will his marketing efforts help drive our sales?
  • What inventory levels will we need to maintain?
  • How will stocking and fulfilling his product affect our cost of distribution?

So, how do you know if you’re ready to talk to a distributor?

#2) The Other Two Options

That’s right, making your website and doing-it-yourself. Having a website with a strong customer base who is already ordering your product should be the first step. Send emails, offers and anything else you can think of to entice people into buying your product. You’ll also want to begin to seeing if you can convince individual stores to carry your product. The more stores who carry your product of their own volition, the better you’ll look to distributors.

It’s also wise to note that the easier time you have selling your product without a distributor, the easier it will be to get a distributor. I know this is ironic, but if you come in with an already-built base of customers, you’ll look much more appetizing to their profit-loving eyes. Don’t get it in your head that you can do without a distributor though, as they are the single best way to increase your profit margin.

#3) How do I pick one?

Very carefully, my friend. You’re practically picking a marriage partner in this operation, so you don’t want to go with the first offer you hear. If you’ve followed the advice up to this point, your company is already looking good to many distributors. Now it’s time to shop around. You’ll want to attend trade shows, if possible. This way you can meet many people at once, face-to-face. Just attending one big trade show will be more than enough to gauge your product.

You’ll also want to become very familiar with this site. It’s the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and it’s the best way to find the company you need to trust with your product. Remember, you don’t need to pick one tonight. Take your time, and invest in your distributor the same way you invest in your product.

Business was never meant to be easy. But with some hard work and a little help, you’ll be on the road to success in no time. You can’t go wrong with getting a distributor involved in your business, so if you were doubting before, hopefully you aren’t now. Other than that, good luck with your business and let us know in the comments if there are any other business-advice articles you’d like to see!