Are you prepared to answer these 3 responses when recruiting new distributors?

Written by: Mason Krell

In the past 30 days alone, our firm has spoken to over 450 independent Orthopedic and Spine distributors. We work with everyone from the one-man shop, to the $200M conglomerate, and everyone in between. You don’t have to be around very long to realize no two orthopedic distributorships are created equal. However, we have started to pick up on some recurring themes from our network of nearly 4,000 musculoskeletal distributors. Below are three common responses we hear when presenting a new company or product to a distributor:


1) “I get calls every week asking me to take on new products. I’m very hesitant to add a new line, unless it is truly innovative.”

 One thing is clear about ortho/spine distributors in today’s market: Everyone worships at the altar of innovation. Differentiation is “King” when it comes to attracting new distributors. The true beauty of innovation is the variety of forms it can take. Hospitals are restricting new products from entering their doors unless there is either significant price savings or potential improved patient outcome. In many cases, it even requires a nuance to give innovators a seat at the table. To play ball in today’s market, you have to obsess over your value proposition and it must resonate not only with the surgeon, but also the buyer/hospital and payer.


2) “Before I take on a new line, I need some form of protection for Change of Control by the manufacturer. I’ve been burned in the past.”

 A common story I hear from distributors is they built up a good book of business for a new product and thought everything was going great. Out of the blue, they get notified that their services are no longer needed. While there are usually three sides to every story (your side, my side, and the truth), a lot of distributors feel they have been cheated or taken advantage of in the past. This creates high sensitivity when considering taking on a new line. Distributors want to be valued business partners with manufactures who will treat them as such. It is important to communicate this in both word and deed! 


3) “How will the manufacturer support my efforts?”

 Every manufacturer wants high caliber distributor partners. The only problem is, top performers are already extremely busy. When I reach out to a new distributor target asking for a good time to connect for a brief call, I often get something like ‘I have 3 minutes in between cases tomorrow morning. Call me then.’ While that may be a slight exaggeration, good distributors are crazy busy!

Finding a distributor who is growing sales, has a solid infrastructure, AND has additional bandwidth to properly support your new line is becoming increasingly difficult. One of the ways to woo a new distributor is by demonstrating you are in the fight together. You are willing to get in the trenches and be a valuable aid to your distributor partners. This can be done by offering support through the contracting process, attendance at meetings and dinners, and occasionally investing in helping them expand their business.


If you are interested in growing or top-grading your distribution network and would like to explore how we can partner in developing your sales channel, send me an email:


This post was originally published on LinkedIn: Read Here