Apple and IBM, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan: these are all great examples of how building strategic partnerships can offer unique competitive advantages, bring new distribution pipelines or benefit from positive branding.
These very same benefits should be the expected outcome from a good relationship between solution providers and pro AV/digital signage distributors. The question is how to find the best distributors and then forge a business relationship that is mutually beneficial to both solution providers and distributors.
Here are six qualities to consider when looking for the right pro AV distributor:
1. Customer Service and Support
Even the most organized pro AV or digital signage project is going to experience at least one or two hiccups along the way. A distributor can often help smooth out these bumps in the road by offering quick shipping, flexible policies, favorable customer support accommodations and a knowledgeable customer service team that cares and is empowered to help. As the pro AV and digital signage industry grows, projects are becoming more challenging and complex, which is why a nimble, responsive distributor is key to a good partnership.
Related: What to Look for in a Digital Signage Distributor
Pricing is one of those things that can be a double-edged sword. It may be tempting to sign on with a distributor offering bargain-basement pricing. But what are the tradeoffs?
As profit margins become slimmer in the pro AV industry, the buying power of solution providers is key, and great pricing is important. However, attractive pricing shouldn’t be the sole impetus to use a distributor that can’t help a partner save money, is hard to work with or ends up costing you more money due to inadequacies in other aspects of the solution provider–distributor relationship such as unreliability.
Once you get pricing and product acquisition in place, business logistics should be your next priority for working with a distributor. Logistics can include things like project-level management, inventory consignment, multi-location shipping and tracking software that allows for a more fluid customer experience.
Projects are rarely simple, and sometimes getting the right equipment to the right place at the right time can be complicated. A distributor that can streamline this process is going to help you save time, reap more profit from your projects and provide a positive customer experience.
4. Product Offering
For solution providers, the ability to deliver comprehensive, effective pro AV and digital signage solutions to your customers often depends on having the latest and greatest product lineup.
One of the primary reasons in retail or hospitality, for example, to deploy digital signage is to excite customers to buy a product or service. Make sure your distributor can offer you the latest technology if your project calls for it.
5. Product Support and Training
A good distributor should back the products that it supplies to solution providers throughout the entire product life cycle. With that said, it’s important to find out what, if any, training and product support your distributor offers.
Good distributors should be knowledgeable and take pride in the quality of products they sell. They should also be able to answer basic technical questions or be able to provide assistance within a reasonable amount of time.
6. Marketing Support
Another benefit to partnering with a good pro AV or digital signage distributor is that, in many cases, it has a vested interest in providing solutions that are mutually beneficial for business development strategies and brand recognition.
Look for distributors that provide assistance with basic marketing materials like flyers, Web page access and white papers, because you can leverage these materials to promote your business.
These are just a few considerations to take into account when looking for a distributor to partner with, but they’re a good starting point to help grow your business.