I came across this recently. A product line that is traditionally sold by contract furniture dealers. I wanted to sell it on a drop ship basis via website.
At first, the sales maanger was just being beligerent...asking me questions along the lines of `well, how to you expeect to handle `X`?`...or ...`What are you going to charge for `X``?
Since I had owned a website before and I knew the industry, I was able to answer his questions quickly and thoroughly.
But more importantly, and this is the advice I think you are looking for, I told him this: Listen, I`m not trying to compete with you and I`m not trying to compete with your dealers. I`m trying to partner with you, and bring you more business. This is how I plan to do it (insert strategy here). If you can use additional sales, I can bring them to you, and I can do it professionally. My job is to sell the product the way you want it sold, so we can both make money."
That was the clincher. He didn`t become any "nicer", but he gave me access to his line on a drop ship basis.
I think, If you can show a manufacturer that you have a UNIQUE way to bring him business, and a plan to do it, they will atelast give you LIMITED access. (In this economy, they`d be a fool NOT to).
Mikey - if you get this off the ground, and you really are their only `web` distributor, please let me know. I know some clever Web 2.0 marketing tecqniques and I`d like to share them with you so you can get some business and make the manufacturer glad he chose to let you sell the line!