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Surviving Startup: Tips for New Dealers

By Mike Rosen
November 12, 2010 - Article

Mike RosenStarting a new business can be exciting. It also, however, can be extremely challenging — especially in the formative years. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years.

While it is impossible to eliminate the risks associated with starting a new business, for new communications dealers, you can improve your chances for success by aligning with the right manufacturing partner early on and committing to a clearly defined plan. Following are some helpful tips for building a solid foundation for long-term business success.

Choose Partners Wisely. Choosing the right manufacturing partner can be challenging, but a good place to start is by evaluating product lines and solutions offerings. If you have determined that your best chance for success is targeting small and medium businesses, make sure the manufacturer you select has the right solutions to meet the needs of your prospective customers.

For instance, does the manufacturer have a well-established product line and suite of solutions that cater to the two-to-500-user marketplace? Are the manufacturer’s systems affordable enough for this customer set? Do system features provide SMBs the edge they need to compete with larger competitors? And are the solutions expandable to accommodate growth when the SMB is ready to move to the next level?

From a support standpoint, here are some offerings you should require from your prospective manufacturing partner:

  • technical backing for developing creative solutions that address complicated challenges
  • lead-generation programs and lead-management tools for tracking sales opportunities
  • a dedicated manufacturer representative that can help with account planning and development of growth strategies

Additionally, consider whether the product line you are evaluating is a recognizable, well-backed brand that is known for innovation. And does the manufacturer provide branded marketing vehicles that will allow you to leverage this brand equity to create sales opportunities?

Follow Your Plan. Establish a plan and give it time to work. Very few businesses are immediate successes. For those that do succeed long-term however, the key is committing to a plan and doing everything possible to create and maintain an edge for your business.

While your team may already have an established expertise in your target area, you should never stop adding to that foundation of knowledge. Take advantage of the learning resources offered by your manufacturing partner. Make manufacturer brochures and user manuals required reading for staff. Encourage staff to participate in learning demos, webinars and other educational programs.

Your sales team also should fully understand the saleable features of a product as well as its application potential. Train your staff on how to effectively conduct a demo and consider putting demos online or even on YouTube for customers to view. The sales team also should be familiar with financing and leasing options that can help close deals.

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