Given that an agency or distributor has a range of clients, the objective must be to achieve as much of their focus as possible within the reasonable constraints of their portfolio, but not in a way that crosses the line of nuisance and becomes counterproductive. It will further this end to:
- Be efficient and easy to deal with: provide the best possible title schedules plus print and digital sales and marketing materials at the time they say they need them; offer a clear, single point of contact who will answer queries and solve problems swiftly. If schedules or other details change, be proactive in communicating that information. Ask who of their clients provides the best service of this kind, find out what that means, and look to be at least as good.
- Provide sales data on a regular and timely basis
- Become acquainted with sales cycles, lead times, and agents’ schedules for market visits together with the rationale underpinning them. Be ready to modify your own lead times in order to take best advantage of their activities
- Be responsive to requests for non-standard pricing if it will produce a deal that will otherwise not happen. Bear in mind that a lower margin of something is always better than a higher margin of nothing, as long as the deal is profitable for you, your will be paid, and it doesn’t upset the market
- Review the business with the partner regularly and thoroughly, asking for reports, market background and trends. Seek explanations for better or worse performance as well as the background to unusual elements. Use the relationship to learn about markets and thus improve your focus, service and expectations
- Offer marketing support and be responsive to marketing initiatives suggested by customers
- Invite agents to sales conferences, including the social elements. Bespoke sessions for the international team can be particularly helpful both to present the most relevant product (the UK market sessions will often include prominent books which are home-market-specific) and for team-building: the more your agents and distributors feel a valued part of your team, the more they will prioritise your list and the more effective they will be on your behalf. While face-to-face sessions are noticeably more effective, the range of video options that has emerged during the pandemic of 2020-2021 has offered new possibilities. These remote meetings can be effective for product briefings to established teams, but are much less useful for team discussions unless the participant numbers are very small. For team-building and the establishing of new relationships they are of limited benefit.