Distributor Training | Channel Training (Indian Context)

Distributor Training.... It's only Sales Training... Right...?

Distributors are one of the most important cogs in offline distribution-based business for enhancement of both trade brand and sales. One of the key roles of sales team in those industries is distributorship management with distributors being the most discussed agenda in any sales meet. Ask any sales personnel in those industries, right from the head of sales to the front-line executive the discussion starts from distributors, end with distributors ๐Ÿ˜ฒ and in between it will be maximum distributors๐Ÿ˜‰!๐Ÿ˜‰!๐Ÿ˜‰! The cascading effect can be felt @ logistics/dispatch level, where over a period…. they start knowing the distributors by name & remember their off-take (sales/month) by heart…. although they don’t deal with the distributors directly๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ!!... (@ least in case where the supply is done through depos)
Who is a Distributor in Offline business?

    Who is a distributor in Offline business?

    Distributors are the ones who buys, stocks & subsequently markets and sales the company products to their customers (retailers/dealers) who either sales it to end consumers (like us) or further sales it to smaller retailer/dealers (a model called WHOLE SELLING), who subsequently sales it to end consumers like us. The company sales that is reflected in the balance sheet is the sale done to the distributors (as term referred to as PRIMARY SALES). Thus, distributors become a very important part of the entire business process and hence their #training is a tool to bring in the competitive advantage for the distributors & subsequently the company to grow.

    My personal experience as well as information gathered after taking to many …. the training for distributors eventually lands up in sales training, primarily for 2 reasons:

    1. Their final deliverable is sales numbers to the company.
    2. They are managed by the sales team; whose final deliverable is the same.
    Here one very important point to consider is, the distributorship (the firm of the distributor) employs almost all the function of the business which the company employs like sales team, finance and accounts, warehouse & dispatch team. In bigger distribution houses, they have HR, Training cells also. & ...

    In some cases, the turnover of the distributorship (becoz it deals with multiple businesses) is more than the turnover of few companies it deals with๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿ˜ต!!

    So, the sales team is one part of the distributorship organization…the one which generates the revenue for the firm.
    A distributor on the contrary, is businessman who has a certain amount of funds with him to invest. He may operate across 1/2/3…or multiple businesses with few main objectives:
    Concerns of Distributor

    Disconnect between Company & Distributor expectations

    Hence, there is a clear disconnect in the expectation when it comes to the deliverable from the #distributor training, both from the company standpoint as well as the distributor perspective

    Clear disconnect between expectations of company & distributor

    The company is looking training as a tool to increase sales, whereas the distributor is looking @ this opportunity as a platform where he/she can learn ways to improve the ROI and overall betterment of his/her distributorship. This mis-marry leads to confusion, dis-satisfaction among the key stake holders with the output nowhere near the expectations…sometimes its blamed on the training๐Ÿ˜ฉ..๐Ÿ˜ฉ

    Improving sales is one of the key measures to improve the ROI & a sure way to make the distributorship more sustainable…but then. It’s one of the ways…not the only way.

    So, it should be an integral part of distributor training & not the only topic to be trained

    A comprehensive distributor training is one on the distributorship, on how to grow the overall business with a focus of enhanced sustainability of the distributorship and improved ROI from the business.

    All this keeping in mind that the distributor or other employees of the distributorship may or may not be equally educated as per the company standards (the entire training program needs to be designed keeping this important parameter in mind)
    Let’s look @ the possible elements to cover up a successful distributor training. As discussed, a distributor is with funds (finance) to invest. 
    The fund the distributor uses in the ways as schematically depicted.
    Three pillars of distributorship

    Training w.r.t the three pillars of distributorship

    Staffing of the distributor

    The manpower of the distributorship across various functions like sales, finance & accounts, warehouse & dispatch, back-office, office boys etc.  Like any other business, the distributor is looking @ the outputs from his employees(DSR Training... Keep reading) as schematically depicted:

    Training distributor, Distributorship
    Training distributor, distributorship

    Inventory Management/Customer Management of the distributor

    This is directly linked to the sale performance of the distributor. The distributor takes a keen interest in how to maximize profits within a given investment with the least amount of risks. The few key areas of discussion are schematically depicted:

    Training distributor, distributorship
    Training distributor, distributorship

    Infrastructure Management of the distributor

    Distributors does invest in infra based on their own requirements and as per the guidelines of the brand they trade. The level of the infrastructure and the value of investment varies widely based on the requirements and the distributor size. For example, there will be substantial number of distributors who will operate in billing software Tally, but one would also come across distributors who will operate their billing software in SAP. Key primary areas of training are:

    Training distributor, distributorship
    Key areas of distributor training

    But there is no “one size fit for all” concept here
    I have come across companies planning #distributor training mainly based on convenience, like geography-wise, top/worst performing distributor training session etc. If we take the above stated points in mind, its aptly clear there is no “one size fit for all” concept, rather for maximum output from the training the grouping of distributor should be as per similarity in those parameters & their future business plan if not ideally training tailor made individual distributorship wise.

    Training distributor, distributorship
    Digitization of distributor training

    Digitization of distributor training content

    Digitization of the distributor training content (@least partially if not complete) enhances the quality of output as depicted schematically:

    1. Can be tailor made per distributor
    2. Gives the distributor the time to go through it instead of 1/2 day of knowledge dumping
    3. Can be updated with time
    4. More effective with video, content, info graphics
    5. Is more modular and improves accessibility
    6. Can be extended to online quizzes & monitored @ a granular level with each distributor

    Under no way this can be replacement of face-to-face interaction of the company officials (primarily the senior management) with the distributor

    The personal touch brings in a lot of value in terms of emotions & sentiments which can’t be replaced & I strongly feel it should continue. In fact, the distributor meets is a parallel platform which a lot of company follows for the same

    Digitization of the distributor training is complementary to the current face-to-face training programs which can be used in different ways based on the business and training objective at that point in time.

    For ex: A part of the training can be digitized & only key questions/notes/topics can be discussed in the face-to-face training sessions which will reduce time, cost & make the entire program far more effective…not to forget distributors will be able to relax during those meets instead of the long hours classroom lectures which they are subjected to..!!...
    In the cocktail dinners which generally follow those long training session…majority of the time one finds the distributor saying…it was good. but too long๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด…Finally switching off is an integral part of being switched-on.

    Distributors are the pillars of growth in which ever business they exist…hence their training should be part of the training strategy….ironically HR makes the training strategy/calendar for the organization and its employees…Marketing and Sales are left to deal with training of the distributors ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ…a practice which can change for good…it should be a combined effort of both the training cell & the direct stakeholder (in this case Sales & Marketing) to design training requirements of the target audience.

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