I’ve been supporting overseas companies in Latin America for nearly 10 years. Most of my clients have been world-class manufacturers of niche B2B and B2C products, across a range of sectors. Just like them, anyone working in the region will know that, by far, the key to success is who you partner with.
Recruiting regional distributors is part science, part art (and part gut, we can agree). However, actually managing distributors can be even more challenging, even if also extremely rewarding when things work out.
The reasons why companies decide they need more support in Latin America and get in touch with us vary. Some realise that their sales manager at home just cannot cope with all distributors in the world, one region needs to be delegated and, given that most Brits are so detached from Latin America physically and culturally, and that British companies tend to lack experience of dealing with this region, Latin America becomes an interesting “chunk” to outsource.
Often, companies already have a few distributors in the region, maybe even some historic sales, and they suspect there is more potential but, as they tell us “we haven’t really done much about Latin America lately”. It’s a shame to let things go. Particularly because you are making it so easy for your competitors, too.
Many times, exporters establish a network of distributors maybe after a successful trade show, or after commissioning some research. It all looks good but as time goes by, distributors do not engage. “They were so interested but they are not replying to my emails now”, I hear often from exporters, while from distributors in the region I hear “They were so interested but all they do now is send emails, ask for reports and they don’t even bother calling”. Interesting.
Latin American distributors tend to be hard to find (online research is never enough), difficult to contact (you can’t rely on emails), and need a fair amount of hand-holding. On the other hand, they can be immensely rewarding to work with, too, and incredibly loyal.
Regional distributors value continuity. If the person that gets in touch with them changes all the time and, on top of that, is based far away, engagement will drop. From experience, it takes a good 6-8 months for a Latin American distributor to feel comfortable working with and trusting a new manager. This is because, as we always argue here, business relationships are personal.
Sometimes clients want someone flexible in the region without having to open an office or hire someone directly. Sometimes they want someone interim while they work out if it is worthwhile to hire a sales manager at HQ. In other cases, the skills mix they are looking for is just not available to them locally.
More and more companies ask us today to support them managing their distributor network in Latin America. They vary in sizes, sectors and country of origin. What they have in common are the reasons for coming to us:
- Track record of sales/distributor management.
- Real understanding of Latin America, and Latin Americans.
- Understanding of business in countries like the UK (where I lived 13 years). So we can “translate” from one business culture into the other.
- Based in the region, travelling often (when we could!), we “live” Latin America.
- A favourable time zone (GMT -3), ideal for working across the Americas and with Europe.
- Language fluency.
- We are based in Uruguay, probably the most stable and reliable country in the region.
- We are a team of two senior consultants, you get to deal with us directly.
Because companies want to keep their fixed costs down, have flexibility and lower risks, the fact we are outsourced, but combined with well-established to ensure continuity, is always a bonus.
We offer flexible and affordable packages to exporters. You can hire us for just few days a month, as little as just two days if that’s all you need. We agree on a work plan that can include managing distributors, growing your distributor network, developing business and whatever else you need to do business here. We save you the cost of so many mistakes, we make sure you get the most out of your distributor network and we make sure things don’t slip here. We leverage support and become your eyes and ears across the region.
Want to discuss it? Drop us a line: or connect with Gabriela on LinkedIn. Let’s take it from there.
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