10 questions to ask before signing a reseller

Last week I posted two articles about stock photography channel management. This third one deals with the selection of the appropriate partners in the network. Like the other ones, this not the ultimate list so please feel free to comment and add to the ideas.

The choice which reseller to add to your network is challenging. With over 500 companies selling stock photography it is tempting to go on a signing blitz, adding as many new companies as possible. This is usually done in the hope that if all of these partners only sell a single image this will still contribute to revenue growth. While this may be true in the short term, over the long term most companies find managing this extended network difficult, costly and ineffective. 

Here is a list of questions that can help dive the choice for the appropriate partner. By no means have I always lived by these rules (certainly not in the short term) but I do believe these to be true:

  1. Will the new partner provide sales opportunities in a country you’re not selling into yet?
  2. If you’re already doing business in that country, does the new company differentiate itself; do they sell to a different client group?
  3. Are your products (or a subset of them) suitable for the partner?
  4. Will you be competing directly with another product in their offering? If there is no plan you may want to go to a competing company in the same country.
  5. Do they have a long term vision or do they keep their company afloat on a day to day basis? (e.g. through an extremely low cost base).
  6. Are they financially stable or is it likely they won’t be here next year?
  7. Are they pro-active and optimistic? It is difficult to get clear marketing commitments right now so make sure the company has confidence in the future.
  8. Do you know the management team and have you built a relationship with them? If you’re not important enough for their management team to talk to you there is no point (Top 5 companies excluded)
  9. Do they have the technical capability to manage the ‘shelf space’ on their website? If the search results are based on upload date only the relevance for clients is limited and differentiation is impossible to establish.
  10. Do they have overbearing, complicated submission procedures that will just cost you time and money?

I have not put any sales guarantees or contractual marketing commitments in this list. I have done this in the past and certainly in relationships with exclusive representatives this is an option.  The 10 questions focus on finding the right partner and then working together to find the right mix of actions to optimize revenues. When the goal to grow revenue is aligned both companies will have the same will to execute agreed actions. Furthermore, as with every contractual revenue commitment, there is very little scope for punitive measures if the revenue target is not hit as you would still want the relationship to continue and be constructive for the next revenue year.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

One thought on “10 questions to ask before signing a reseller

  • November 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I developed a foreign distributor questionnaire that I emailed to potential partners ahead of time. It includes these types of questions as well as keyword translation, gross revenue, expected sales expectation, payments etc. Be diligent it’s your business and only the right fit will make you money.
    “The Photography Business Success Coach”


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