So you’re an office supplies company that sells stationery directly to businesses, but you may be wondering if you should incorporate an ecommerce set up to capture the online shoppers. Maybe you have seen a decrease in sales due to the influx of businesses now shopping online. Without an ecommerce site are you left wondering if you are going to be left behind?
The problem is you can invest a lot of time and money building an ecommerce website, without getting it back. Even if you have a fabulous looking store, if it’s not ranked high in the search engines then you won’t be selling much.
So what’s the solution for the independent office supplier dealer looking to sell more?
Build long lasting channel relationships with businesses that can move your business to the next level. Offering things like consolidated services and employing unique purchasing techniques is far harder to achieve with an ecommerce store so you’re at an advantage already as a traditional dealer. Offering these services through a channel partner can really bring your office supplies business to another level.
What’s an example of a channel partnership that has done really well? Look at Apple and who they have formed strategic business relations with. Phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have benefited from selling Apple phones. Apple benefits from having their products readily available to customers of all sorts. The phone companies do the majority of the marketing for Apple, so they just have to keep creating new products and keeping the excitement up about their products.
How to Find a Good Channel Partner
Before you can establish a working and long lasting channel relationship, you have to answer a few questions about your business.
1: What do you hope to accomplish from this relationship?
2: What is the ideal partner?
3: How will you contribute equally to your channel partner?
If you have good, solid answers for these three questions, you are well on your way to forming a channel relationship that will last.
Your ideal partner should be a person or business that you can build trust. Good business management skills and a pleasant personality are essential. Remember, you are going to be working with this person or company for a long time, so make sure it’s someone you can handle dealing with on a regular basis.
If you are searching for a one-sided relationship, you need to understand right now that this won’t work. An effective channel partnership benefits both sides equally.
So if you are not ready to set up an ecommerce store, or don’t feel like this is a step you want to take, look around for some companies that will make great channel partners. In the office supplies industry, this may be environmental services, record management, print, data archiving, even removals. There are almost unlimited options.
Don’t Forget Your Customers
When searching for a channel partner, also bear in mind what would be most beneficial to your customers. If you constantly have customers asking you what computer systems you sell, hook up with an IT company. Likewise, if you have customers wondering about marketing print, and it’s not a service you can offer, find a channel partner.
Write a Pitch Letter
Once you have determined who would be a good partner, you have to get them on board with your idea. If you answered the aforementioned three questions with good, solid answers, you have your pitch letter halfway written.
Write a formal letter to the company you are interested in. Don’t do this over an email. It will look more professional and serious if you send this letter by post. Emails are too easily discarded or skimmed over.
Your letter should be short and to the point. Provide a brief bio of who you are and what your company does. Explain that you are looking for a channel partner and why you think they would make a good one. Point out the pros for both of you in forming such a relationship. After you have sent the letter, make sure to follow up within a week or so.
Hopefully, these tips will help you bring your business to the next level with a fabulous and long lasting channel partnership.
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