One of the biggest decisions any business products reseller will make is which wholesaler or dealer group to partner with.

With customer relationships, logistics, product and service quality and profits all potentially hanging on this, resellers will always think long and hard about who to align themselves with. And of course it’s a decision that has to be researched, considered and implemented with care because, at its extremes, it can make or break a business.

Here are four of the biggest questions that resellers ask when they are reviewing their choice of wholesale or dealer group – and my thoughts:

1. How do we increase new business?

Winning and developing accounts is the number one priority of every reseller and it’s an obvious fact that without finding new ways to identify the best prospects and build business, none of us will be here in the future.

Any wholesaler or dealer group should have the right expertise, services and training in place to help with this. Our experience tells us that these assets should be built and continually refined by people from within the industry, who know the business products sector inside out, who’ve been there, done it and have the t-shirt. There are plenty of high quality providers in the market and their expertise is essential if you’re looking for business growth. Specialists in areas such as furniture and contract tendering can all deliver significant results.

Look for the provision of strong, targeted new business prospecting services that are based on quality, pre-qualified leads, as well as other added value services that have been selectively and carefully developed rather than offered as a me-too.

2. How can we take more cost out of the chain?

Resellers can work with their wholesale partner to remove duplicate costs. This is usually a subtle realisation of synergies in the supply chain, of establishing the duplicate costs and taking out those costs where this presents mutual benefits.

3. How does the implementation plan work?

When a reseller is getting serious about making the switch to a new wholesaler their thoughts turn to the practicalities and potential headaches. Finding out how quickly and easily a new partner can assist with this is critical. Can they deal with a very fast switchover? Are they going to work in tandem with your team to refocus the back office system in what might be just a few days? Taking all your people with you while you change is essential. Good partners will work with everyone in your team, from the delivery driver to the finance director, to ensure they understand the transition. The right partner will bend and flex to ensure the switchover plan is tailor made for your business and that it results in a process as straightforward as changing bank accounts.

 4. What level of account management and internal support can you offer?

Relationships with the people that you will deal with are critical. You need to know you are working with individuals that know their stuff, do what they say they are going to do and who will be strong support through good times and perhaps, occasionally, not so good.

The stability and experience of the senior management team is important, as is understanding their views on taking their business forward, which will inevitably shape your future relationship.

First class field and internal support is essential. Find out about the experience and qualities of the people you will be speaking to and the size of the team in your area as well as nationally. Ask for KPIs and customer service results and consider these as a guide to what you may experience.

Try to ensure that the people you will be dealing with are the right people for driving your business ahead. What will they bring and will they deliver even greater growth to your business?

Any more questions? Feel free to contact me at martin.weedall@voweurope.com