Life Science Distributors

Make these internal changes to boost your distributor sales

Distributors play a critical role in developing the brand and sales of life science suppliers worldwide. Effective distributor management requires:
Factors that affect the relationship between supplier and distributor
Figure 1: The supplier – distributor relationship


Creating strong relationships with your distributors requires a significant investment of both time and effort but is the key to long term, sustainable growth. Whilst you are investing time into your relationship with your distributors there are a couple of other things you can do which will have an immediate effect on your distributors’ sales:


1. Invest in your products

There is increasing discussion that a lack of product information available from life science suppliers is making research more difficult and wasting a significant amount of research funding.

Protein binding Reagents - Money down the drainFigure 2: “Bad Antibodies” – figure from Nature Article “Standardize Antibodies used in Research


The best way that life science firms can protect their products from this type of scrutiny is to make sure their products have as much validation or comparative data as possible. We recommend that validation / product quality should be the philosophy of your whole brand to generate the customer trust.

How this impacts your Distributors’ Sales

If your distributors need to introduce your brand or a new product line to their customers then providing them with products that they can trust is really important. If a distributor sells a product that doesn’t work to their customers it becomes much more difficult for the distributor to introduce further new products to them or the distributor could lose the relationship altogether if the results are particularly bad.

Products that have extensive validation data will make the sales process much easier; the distributor is more likely to recommend your products to their customers, and the customers are more likely to try them too. Also, because distributors work off a margin they generally offset this by selling a large range of products; products that stand out from the crowd will receive better promotion on their website and in their catalogues.

2. Increase the visibility of your brand andproducts online

The internet has revolutionized many industries and it is certainly changing the dynamics of the life science industry; brands with large web catalogues and those which interact best with online scientists are growing quickest. Abcam is probably the best at this with an “Amazon” like business model with lots of products and plenty of product reviews. The effect of this on sales is clearly shown in its 2014/15 interim report and recent improvements in its market share:
Abcam Market Share data from CiteAbFigure 3: Abcam’s increasing market share – data from CiteAb


Researchers use the internet in all aspects of their work; to continue to stay up to date about their area of expertise, to interact with fellow scientists and also to find the products that they need. Life science firms should focus their marketing strategy on developing their online presence through a number of means:

Marketing on the Internet

How this impacts your Distributors’ Sales

Life science suppliers that choose not to invest in online marketing will increasingly find it difficult to develop direct sales as other competitors begin to exploit digital marketing. The same is true for sales via distributors – if a researcher has never heard of your brand or products then it will be an uphill battle for your distributors to generate a lot of sales on your behalf.



To get the best out of your distributor invest your time and energy in developing a relationship with them. To really kick-start your relationship make it easy for distributors to sell your brand and your products by investing in your products and your online strategy.