Manufacturer Reps Sell Your Product

This month, John Haskell writes,

 

The major product that independent sales representatives sell is selling. Remember agents are professional salespeople. They spend 100 percent of their time and effort selling products manufactured by their principals.

 

Manufacturer representatives can greatly help your business with their professional sales expertise. This applies to selling in Target or otherwise. We want to be clear though, manufacturer representatives offer more than simply increased sales.

target manufacturer's representative

Considerations When Hiring Manufacturer Representatives

For businesses that have only ever known an inside sales force, making the leap to an Independent Manufacturer Representative can seem daunting. But why shouldn’t you outsource your sales force? You are likely already outsourcing legal or accounting work. You may even be outsourcing bookkeeping or human resources or any number of vital elements of your business.

The reasons to outsource your sales force are the same for outsourcing anything else. It’s cost-effective. It allows you to leverage a level of expertise than can be cost-prohibitive in house. Manufacturer Representatives aren’t simply experts on your product. They are experts on their market area and chain retailers. And while an employee may move away for money, or expect regular raises, there’s no concern over that here. An independent rep has no similar cause to leave its territory that it invested heavily in for years. Similarly, with agreements in place, a rep will only ever take a percentage of commission.

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Manufacturer Representative Training

We come back to this topic every now and again because of it’s importance. Jack Foster wrote a piece at ASM talking about ways manufacturers can aid their reps.

 

When one manufacturer asked some of his non-competitive peers what they did to keep their independent manufacturers’ representatives informed and motivated one of them was quick to offer several suggestions she found to be especially worthwhile. Among the tips she offered were these:

…Training — Time and again agents have communicated their desire to have access to product knowledge and applications as aids in performing their jobs. Remember they already know how to sell;

 

The better informed about the ins and outs of your product a manufacturer representative is, the better we’ll be able to sell it. And that doesn’t mean just getting it on Target’s shelves. It means reaching the end-customer in a more impactful way to increase sales across all channels.

target manufacturer's representative

Protected Manufacturer Representative Agreements

Part 2: Protection Solutions

One common concern among manufacturers’ representatives is that they could get let go after months or years of hard work, but before significant commissions are generated. This concern is justifiable particularly where the brand is relatively new without an established customer base. A rep must labor long and hard in order to generate the first customers and purchase orders. Or, if the supplier provides a great product offering and executes well, and the help of the rep leads to booming sales, the brand may be an attractive target of acquisition by a larger, more established competitor. During an acquisition, the sales organizations of the acquiring and acquired companies must be consolidated, and usually the direct sales team or rep from the acquiring company survives, while the rep from the acquired supplier is terminated.

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Manufacturer Representatives Make Sales

As mentioned in a previous post, independent reps like Three Sixty Sales are first salespeople. Yes, we provide many more services to our clients that extend far beyond a normal sales role, but we maintain a vigilant focus on generating sales. Read a bit from Mark Hunter’s recent article at Agency Sales Magazine.

 

One position that has not been impacted by the economy is sales. Ask any CEO and you will hear that one of their biggest issues is finding and retaining good salespeople.

Something happened on the way to a sour economy: Too many companies learned the hard way that their salespeople didn’t know how to sell. Instead, their salespeople were good at taking orders and providing customer service. There is nothing wrong with this approach, as long as the marketplace is always going to serve up new customers and keep current customers in business. 

 

Because a modern marketplace rarely continues to work this way, it is helpful to work with manufacturer representatives that actually specialize in sales.

The Skills of Independent Representatives

Manufacturer’s Reps practice a wide range of trades, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t first salespeople. In a recent article by Tim Ryder, he makes some important distinctions about the abilities and capabilities of a manufacturer representative.

 

The adage of being a “Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” does not necessarily apply to independent manufacturers’ representatives. While the “business” end may require that we become “Jacks” of the many facets of running our agencies (such as HR, IT, accounting, engineering, healthcare, management, etc.), our “profession” requires that we are “masters” in the selling process.

Most of us got into the manufacturers’ representative business because we had a certain set of skills in selling that gave us the confidence not only to make a living in sales, but to make a career out of it.

 

Read more at ASM Online.

Manufacturer Representative Training

A year ago this month, Jack Foster wrote about a local Twin Cities manufacturer that has developed an in-depth six-month training program based out of its headquarters for it’s over 150 national manufacturer’s reps.

 

At the same time independent manufacturers’ representative firms should be mapping their future succession plans, Twin City Fan & Blower is working to supply their agencies with a steady stream of professionally trained personnel that should seamlessly fit into agency succession plans.

 

When manufacturers give reps the tools they need to know a brand or product line inside and out, their ability to sell is that much greater. Read the full article here.

target manufacturer's representative

Necessity of Manufacturers Reps

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.”

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target manufacturer's representative

Relationships are the Cornerstone of Manufacturer Representation

A successful independent representative is resourceful, flexible, agile and resilient. Trends in each respective field or category are constantly changing and salespeople need the ability to react to those changes. This ability applies not only to manufacturers and customers like Target, but within the manufacturer rep firm itself.

The Internet, in its capacity to facilitate communication, has created a few tools that make it easier for vendors and customers to interact. However, sales staff from a qualified rep firm will foster relationships and offer category insight and experience far beyond what’s available on a computer or online. Human relationships are still worth gold in this field.

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Manufacturer Reps Invest in the Customer

A recent article by John Tschohl talks about customer loyalty. This not only applies to manufacturer representatives that have a large territory with many customers, but also to firms that cater to a select few corporate partners.

 

Everyone says the customer is important; only a few savvy companies invest the time, effort and financial resources to do what needs to be done to build a more loyal customer base. Executing a loyalty strategy takes a true understanding of what it takes to create the kinds of experiences the customer will come back for, and tell their friends about.

 

No matter the size or number of customers, great manufacturer representatives create loyalty in their customers.

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