What Is The Best Way To Partner With Rep Firms To Enter The US Market?

What would be the best way to enter the US / North America Market using Rep firms for a CCTV brand? Is there a listing of reps somewhere?

List of 100+ Security Manufacturer Representatives.

Yes, List of 100+ Security Manufacturer Representatives.

In terms of what's best, can you explain your situation / offering / desires? This would help us give better advice.

Thanks for the link.

Desire: To partner with reps in US/CA and explore the North American market.

Situation: Asia based IP CCTV brand. Presence in ASEAN / India. Products are UL Listed and CB certified. So ready for the North American market. Currently presence limited to a few countries in Asia (non-China).

Offering: 2MP to 12MP range across different form factors Box / Bullet / Dome / PTZ / Fisheye. Have our own basic VMS - but nowhere in the league of the established ones. But we work seamlessly with top VMS brands. We have 8 different edge analytics in most of our products (leveraged from SoC manufacturers / Licensed third party).

Positioning: In our regions we compete with Western brands. UL listed product range cannot compete in pricing with H-company / D-company. So we stay away from the SOHO business and work in critical infrastructure projects with smaller but more focused partner networks. A large part of our business is due to partner relationships with end-customers.

I'll try to offer some general advice.

First, I think YOU need to develop a solid go to market plan/strategy for the US market. I emphasize YOU in this because you won't be able to fully rely on rep firms to handle this for you. Some reps will be very experienced with this, while others (and I suspect most) will be able to provide only minimal help in getting you properly positioned in the US market.

You also want to develop your own strategy so that you have all firms operating under the same guidance. This will help eliminate confusion or crazy problems with situations that cross territories. Paying an experienced rep firm or consultant to help you draft a viable channel plan would probably be a good use of money.

Before you sign up too many rep firms, I think you will need a distribution and warehousing strategy in the US. You can try and pursue ADI/ScanSource/Anixter, or you can work with a 3PL company. If *I* were doing it, I'd probably explore the 3PL route rather than trying to become yet another unknown camera supplier to ADI/etc.

You're trying to break into a relatively crowded and competitive market. By entering now, you're going up against more established brands on both the high-end (Axis, Avigilon, Arecont, etc.) and the low-end (Dahua, Hikvision, etc.). You will need a very strong and very well articulated marketing position in order to get enough market share to make it worthwhile. I would not leave that solely to a rep firm, not because of any bias against rep firms specifically, but because I feel that is the sort of thing that YOU need to decide for your company (possibly with the *help* of a rep firm owner or consultant).

You'll also need to develop a good lead generation strategy. Some rep firms can help generate new leads, but a lot of them cross-pollinate things, meaning that if they represent Brand A, Brand B and Brand C, if they get a lead from Brand A they will try to also promote Brand B and Brand C in the meeting. But there is no guarantee the customer wants to see your "Brand B" camera, so their interest may be minimal. Or if the rep isn't getting a lot of interest in your product they may spend less time on it in meetings. However, if you're sending the reps leads and the customers are interested in your cameras and excited, that will give them more motivation to show it in more places.

Develop your distribution strategy if you haven't already. Get product in the US. Develop your marketing plan, and THEN you can go to rep firms with the intent of signing them up. That part will be easy, offer them an 8% commission to start and then promise of at least 4 leads per month and there should be some eager ones. Your other big obstacle might be finding a firm that doesn't already have 1 or 2 cameras lines, and in many cases those manufacturers will prevent them from taking on another competitive line.

With the Han-sung rebranding fiasco this could be a good time to target reps that were signed up with Samsung and offer them something more strategic.

If you're planning to be at ISC West I can take a few minutes to offer some additional guidance or possibly make a couple of intros to rep firms that might be a good fit.


I think that this company might better be served by going direct to the customer. If they offer "high-end" solutions, a sales rep or distributor will not really have the resources to differentiate the product from the pack. Making the factory rep to customer connection will be key for them.

They can control the value proposition, messaging, and demonstration better with a factory sales person. Also, there is less risk to losing YOUR opportunity to another brand if a current promotion or SPIFF is in effect. Only a factory rep has the factory interest in mind. Also, they are better positioned to communicate requirements to the home office and information back to the customer without confusion.



Joel -

Hard to form too much more of an opinion without more perspective from OP, but I would generally agree with you.

Much of the optimal approach would be how much OP wants to (or has available to) invest in a US sales force. A rep firm only gets paid for actual sales, so there is less financial risk of using reps. However I agree that a direct-hire person would overall be more effective on an individual basis, but would also cover less total territory than a typical 3-6 person rep team.

If it were *me*, I'd probably formulate a real solid go to market plan, get some dealers on board in 3 or 4 markets that I identified as key regions and then pass leads directly to dealers at first and then layer in a rep firm when I had the basic funnel math worked out. Then in time the reps would likely be augmented or replaced by direct in-territory folks.

This is a very complex market with many manufacturers, OEMs, and direct purchase users. A few manufacturers in China control the majority of the market in North America. This is done through direct sales, channels sales, and other business opportunities.

Distribution today does not need another manufacturer's line. I would suggest a more direct-to-market approach. There are many opportunities in this mature market, but it requires the knowledge and relationships to generate revenue from them.

It would be helpful to understand your products and manufacturing capabilities. I receive requests from small to mid-sized companies looking to purchase direct from a "new" manufacturer daily. I can assist with connecting you to some appropriate opportunities.

Please give me a call and we can discuss your overall goals. I can be reached at 561-213-8640 (USA ET). I have 20 years of experience in this industry and have worked at the major manufacturers previously. I look forward to our conversation.

Joel Rieger


+1 561-213-8640

Are you opposed to distributorship? Why not start off with a few larger qualified distributors spread throughout the US and have them stock and sell the products for you?

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

@Brian: I won't be there for ISC West in April. Making plans to visit over the summer in June / July.

I am not keen on appointing a distributor like ADI / Anixter. I've seen enough of ADI in Asia and don't really see any value in them "taking a margin" for their services. There has been substantial discussion on IPVM on ADI and I would second those discussions as they are applicable for ADI APAC as well. A 3PL definitely makes more sense. Going the Avigilon (direct to partner) way is another interesting but expensive strategy. But requires investments in credit management / warehousing / inventory etc.

It would be interesting to look at how European companies have done in the US markets over the past decade- notably Axis, Mobotix and IndigoVision. Axis definitely having the first movers advantage. Any idea how these guys started out?

Lead Gen: Would you suggest online lead gen? - Google Ads / LinkedIn?.

Trade Shows: Definitely don't have the budgets to showcase at ISC West. What are some other shows besides ISC West which would be of interest. I know ASIS is struggling. In our regions, IFSEC UK, India / Intersec Dubai / Secutech ASEAN are also struggling and we don't see too much traction from these tradeshows, besides catching up with old friends with new business cards. Have tradeshows become a thing of the past? Imagine spending a $100K on LinkedIn and Google for lead gen?

Consultants: I like this idea. I would look at speaking to a few consultants for a channel strategy. @Joel thanks for your feedback. I will reach out soon to discuss.

I think all in all your margins will be less if you go through rep firms as opposed to selling through distributors given the commission you have to pay the rep firms plus I think it would be much more work/time which also means more money. I dunno, maybe not. You should find distributors who are more than box movers through. Require them to go through your training course and offer tech support to their own customers.

Google ads: meh, it works but not sure how effective that would be for a manufacturer. Its good for online retailers. I wouldnt spend 100k starting out thats for sure. I would rather spend 100K a year on a really good salesman who will pick up the phone and evangelize your company every day, i can guarantee you that would be much more effective. In my opinion, if you do decide to sell direct, I think getting a small hungry salesforce that is extremely knowledgeable on your product that wants your company to grow just as much as you do would be best.

I could also be seriously wrong on this as well but I seriously think you could find out just as much info by asking questions here and attending trade show and talking to friendly people who are willing to give you info as opposed to spending thousands on a consultant. The CCTV industry and technology is too specific to hire a general consultant in my opinion.

"Google ads: meh, it works but not sure how effective that would be for a manufacturer."

I agree with that. Google ads might be targeted to keywords but not targeted at market segment / group.

For that, I recommend LinkedIn which lets you narrowly target your ads only at people within the video surveillance industry. That's what you want, to get your brand / offering top of mind for that limited number of people (and it is much less expensive than Google). See: LinkedIn's Emergence as a Video Surveillance Marketing Power

IMHO.....first you need to know if and how you might be a "disruptive" entry into the market and how long you might be disruptive for.

If it's just another low cost camera, VMS, motion detector....then you aren't going to get much interest and the road to finding Reps or sales people will be rocky.

2GIG was started and became the market changer. It took on all the old embedded big guys.

Arecont changed the industry with Megapixel. The big boys had it but didn't know if it would take off.

Big rep firms will take a chance on new entry products that enhance their offering and don't violate their agreements with their top products. Especially if it's disruptive.

"first you need to know if and how you might be a "disruptive" entry into the market and how long you might be disruptive for."

Seconded and good point.

We often have a similar conversation when we speak with manufacturers. They sometimes get frustrated when we push back on what their differentiators are but it is much easier to generate interest / exception when there is a potential for something significant that no one else is doing.