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distribution planning

No matter what you sell, you may be missing entire distribution channels of opportunity that could easily double or 10X your current sales. Let’s give an example.


I started my professional life working for an importer of padlocks. They were selling those locks to locksmith and hardware stores.  Makes total sense, right? When I left their employ and started my own lock distribution company, they were selling:


Bike shops

Motorcycle shops

Marine hardware stores

Mini storage warehouses

Vending machine companies

Newspaper rack vendors

Fire extinquisher servicing companies

Security companies

Grocery stores

Drug stores

Sporting goods stores

Military base exchanges

US government

Discount stores

Department stores



You might imagine that not all of those distribution channels turned out to be worth the time investment, but most did. Each of them took time and money to pursue, including but not limited to:

Joining an association in that industry

Attending or showing in trade shows for that industry

Advertising in trade magazines

Hiring representatives (house or independent) to call on each trade. Sometimes, representatives handled several

Creation of collateral materials and price sheet for each

Sometimes changes in packaging or other product configurations

So, each decision to enter a new trade channel was carefully considered.

In addition, every company has only so many hours to devote to sales and marketing. Thus, time spent developing marine hardware was time taken away from more efforts with schools. Picking priorities was part of the equation.


As a consultant, I originally planned to only call in one vertical in a limited geographic area. However, it soon became clear that it was less expensive to increase the geographic area than to work harder on the rest of the potential clients in the smaller region. Later it became more evident that expanding to other verticals was less expensive than attempting to only sell in one. The plan shifted as the situation on the ground changed.


It could go the other way. Some attorneys start by taking all comers, then slowly narrow their customer list to certain areas of expertise.


How might you increase your prospect base by expanding the geographic territory or the trade channels?


In today’s marketplace, product companies will definitely want to consider Amazon, eBay, and other direct to consumer online options. This can be tricky, given their retail or wholesale clients may not like the competition. However, many manufacturers, importers, and wholesalers have found ways to successfully sell to consumers through these channels, while protecting their other customers.


Many service providers who historically stayed very local are now able to spread out geographically due to Zoom and other communication methods.


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