Sales Rep Secrets:
What to expect
and how to find a good one
hired my first sales rep in New York it was the best thing I ever did
for the growth of my company. The first season sales doubled for the
year. It was just the beginning. I had really good success selling my
line myself. I personally sold to Nordstrom. I needed growth and I
wanted it now. Off I went to NY and the rest was history.
want your business to grow you’ll need to find other people to sell
your products other than yourself. Hiring a sales rep is one of the
best and fastest ways to increase your sales. You’ll find it’s more
economical for you to find independent sales representatives to sell
for you because you will need more time for other parts of your
business and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. After all you
have other things to do in creating your empire!
thing to remember is no one is ever as enthusiastic or knows
your products as well as you do. It is therefore up to you to
create the enthusiasm in your sales rep and educate him/her about your
product making sure they have all the proper line sheets, catalogs,
brochures and order form information.
A sales rep is your business partner.
You both win when there are sales. If you partner with a seasoned rep,
the rep has numerous industry relationships and contacts: buyers,
other sales reps in different locations, other manufacturers, media
and other industry experts. They also know their industry – what
works, what doesn’t. A newer hungry rep will have to make those
contacts fast or go out of business.
Remember that no matter what the rep tells you, the truth is his or
her loyalty is to the retail store and not to your company. It sounds
strange that when you are the one signing their commission checks that
they would not be loyal to you, but it simply does not work that way.
The reason is, the sales rep must keep his credibility with the retail
store, they may purchase several lines out of the showroom and it is
up to the rep to keep that customer happy. The last thing a rep wants
to do is lose his customer by having him purchase goods that will not
sell or buy the wrong quantities.
you are ready to find a sales rep, don’t be disappointed if they don’t
fall all over you to get your line. Taking on a new line is called
“pioneering” a line and not all reps want to do this. It takes lots of
their time and energy to introduce a new company into the
are often skeptical of new lines because they have no track records
for delivery, quality or sell through. Though reps are always looking
for something new they are often skeptical of someone new to the
industry because – let’s face it – they get paid when the goods are
shipped and this is how they make their living.
often been asked “ How do I find a good sales rep?” I’ve put together
a few pointers first on Where to Find them and then what to ASK them:
WHERE TO FIND A GOOD SALES REP:
retail stores in the territory who they like working with and who
they think would be a good rep to handle your product. If you already
have customers in the territory with whom you do business - ask them
first. If you don't do business in the territory find out who you’d
like to do business with and then contact them and ask which sales
reps they recommend. Many buyers have favorites that they enjoy
working with and are happy to put you in touch with each other. Just
be sure this is a store where your line is already selling or a store
where you’d really like to have your products.
a Trade Center and visit Showrooms. Most major cities have trade
centers where reps have permanent showrooms. These are showrooms where
buyers purchase wholesale goods from all types of retail
establishments. There is not necessarily access by the general public
to these showrooms so you will likely need to establish the purpose of
your trip with a guard or some other official. Take proof that you
are a legitimate business (business license, printed check forms,
business cards etc. will usually do) because you may need to show
proof that you have a business in order to get access. Once you are
in the Trade Center go through various show rooms to see which reps
carry what lines for sale. After careful observation you will be able
to see which showrooms and which reps might best be able to represent
your line. Don’t look for lines that are exactly like yours – look
for showrooms where you line would be complimentary. Be observant of
how the sales people work in the showroom and if it’s a small one you
can even talk to the rep. Be careful to respect the sales rep’s time
with paying customers.
Ask for referrals from other manufacturers: Your friends in the
industry with compatible products might be able to refer you to a rep
other sales reps: If you have found a showroom you like or rep you
are impressed with and for one reason or another they are unable to
take your line, by all means ask them for a referral. Often they will
know a rep who is new to the business, looking for new lines and quite
hungry to pioneer a new line. A referral from another rep can be a
very good source for a new vendor. Remember just because a rep is new
does not mean he/she is not good, professional, honest and hard
Tradeshows are great places to find reps – or for them to find
you: Tradeshows are where business gets done and deals are made. Reps
are scouting as are manufacturers – be on the lookout for a rep you’d
like to work with – this is the best time to see them in action and
meet face to face. And if you don’t have a booth at a show – walk a
show and scout out the possibilities – gather business cards and
figure out who you want for your line.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SALES REP:
your due diligence:
Call other vendors who are using this sales rep. Ask the following
Has the sales volume has met with their
Does the rep return phone calls and generally give
Does the rep follow through with sales calls?
What is the rep’s general reputation?
How long has the rep represented their line?
Is the rep hungry - meaning does he/she want to and
need to make a living?
Interview the rep in person. Never, Never, Never
hire a sales rep without having a face to face meeting and seeing his
or her showroom. Believe me the worst thing you can do is give your
product to someone you haven’t met. You are entrusting this person to
create significant sales volume for you and you are hiring this person
to represent you and your company - You must meet!!! When you meet
someone you will develop rapport, the rep will see that you are
serious about your business and you will be able to see if this is a
person with whom you can develop a long term relationship.
3. Check out the Showroom (unless the rep is a “road
Rep”) and look for the following:
the space well used?
the showroom clean?
Are the displays interesting and well merchandised?
Ask how often displays are changed?
Does the rep smoke? Some do.
you decide on which rep to hire then it is important to come to an
understanding of what exactly you are hiring him/her to do for you and
you will need to have a written agreement. Generally it is not
necessary to have a formal contract and often a letter from you to the
rep and then signed and acknowledged by both of you is sufficient.
would check with your attorney.
leery of the rep who presents you with a huge contract. I am not an
attorney so cannot advise you as to the best agreement, however it has
been my experience that you both must come to an understanding of 3
Territory where the rep can sell,
Commission rate and
the commission will be paid.
is paid on shipping or within 15 days of shipping, but this can vary
depending on your agreement)
also include what you expect the rep to sell, but until you have had
one or two seasons
in experience with this rep it is hard to predict.
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