Part of the job of developing export sales is first setting up objectives for your distributors, learn here how to smartly define precise objectives for them.


Do you know what YOU want?

Before setting goals for others, you need to know what yours are. Then you will align your distributors’ goals to yours, to help you reach the target. That is why knowing exactly what you want is important.

Do you want to push a specific product? Do you want to have more margin? Do you more market shares? Do you want to focus only on one type of customers or do you want to reach them all?

Setting up a strategy is like sailing a boat, you have the captain (you) and a lot of sailors (your distributors). Some of the people are sailing according to the direction of the wind, some others sail in the direction they want but the most successful ones have a specific geographical destination in mind, a very precise GPS coordinate to reach.

So – before you assign goals to your dealers to raise anchor and set sail – make sure you know where you want to go.

In that area, your company must provide you with a clear vision of its strategy. If nobody gave you a mission and a map, how do you know which harbor to reach?

SMART Method

The SMART method is a good method of management in setting goals. It is an acronym covering of all the basic aspects that a goal requires. The first use of the SMART approach was in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: be as precise as possible. “Being leader, being number one”: that is not specific at all; it is not a definite goal. Be surgically precise on what. On how.
  • Measurable: link the goal to numbers. How much do you want to sell?
  • Achievable: you need ambition… and also to be pragmatic here
  • Realistic: is the market ready? Is my distributor the right one?
  • Time based: when? How fast?

Is the market ready?

Sometimes you can set a goal, but the market is not ready yet. You might have a strategy based upon a different market culture or structure. It might be possible that you want to set up a strategy that is 2 steps ahead of the market. Do not hesitate to readjust the goals if you see that your plan does not take off.

Reach a consensus

If you want your distributor to reach the goals you are setting up, you need to bring him on board. Reaching a consensus together is truly important. If you are the only one to think those goals are relevant you will need two times more energy to push the distributor to do what you asked. If he is convinced you have done half of the work.

To convince him you could ask him to set his own goals for the year and then revise them for him. If you have a specific goal for one product he is not convinced about you can start with a small batch to sell, then ask for his feedback and show the successes of the other dealers with the same product.

Make sure he is convinced and that he did not agree just to please you. My recommendation is to write down yearly goals as an annex in the contract. If the distributor succeeds he can obtain a bonus, if he is not you have a leverage to break the contract if the situation goes south in the upcoming years.

Pic: Anastasia