What does outsourced mean when it comes to a manufacturers’ representative?

We mentioned in a previous post that the internet has opened a few doors to help manufacturers more easily communicate directly with customers. As the internet continues to grow in use and everyone comes for a piece of the pie, even newer tools will be available, but will they stand the test of time?

In an age of fast tech, social media, easy communication, it makes sense that new tools would become available. And some of these tools are giving difficulties to rep firms– not because these services are somehow able to offer even a fraction of the benefit of rep firms– but simply due to the extra explanation about what exactly “outsourced sales” means when it comes to manufacturer representatives vs newer options for “outsourced sales.”

One such piece of technology written about in the latest Agency Sales Magazine issue is a smartphone app called Universal Avenue. This app, which has aspirations of being the “Uber of sales forces” outsources on-demand sales. Charles Cohon writes about a manufacturer representative who says,


“I guess the source of my heartburn is that I have been lazy in using the phrases ‘outsourced sales force’ and ‘manufacturers’ representative’ interchangeably,” admits the representative. “Now when I have to explain the role of manufacturers’ representatives, ‘outsourced and cost-effective’ isn’t enough.

“I also have to explain the difference between an outsourced sales freelancer like Sven and an outsourced professional manufacturers’ representative like me.

“Sven may spend a few hours pitching credit card services to a half dozen bars and booking systems to a couple of restaurants before quitting for the day. As a professional manufacturers’ representative I am more interested building long-term relationships with customers who will treat me as a trusted advisor for decades than I am in writing any single order.


Again hearkening back to our previous article, relationships are what make manufacturer representation work. The “hit-and-run” approach could be beneficial to some, but the vast majority of manufacturers will find reps to be a better fit.

Professional manufacturers already do outsourced sales as they should be done– by creating commission-based, relationship-focused partnerships. And they allow all of the other benefits over a direct sales force, specifically costs allocated to various budget line items throughout the company. It is a method of outsourcing that is tried and true and provides countless benefits to all of it vendor and customer partners.