A “guide” to working with sales reps

Have a product-based company?
A “guide” to working with reps

Guest post by Romy Taormina
Nausea Relief Chief/Co-Founder, Psi Bands

May 30, 2009

What is a rep?

Broker rep. Sales rep. Showroom rep. They go by different names, but their job is the same. They represent your product and the goal is for them to help you get new accounts.

Why would you want/need one?

  • Because they might be able to help you get in front of a buyer when you might not have been able to do so on your own.
  • They should be familiar with the retailer that you are seeking so they can educate you on what to expect when working with this retailer (their margins, their promo allowances, sales projections, etc.).
  • It gives you a sales person. It cuts down the amount of your travel, so it saves you time (and, hopefully, if they are local to the reatiler, it will save on travel expenses).
  • It cuts down the amount of communications, because the rep will be handling a bulk of it on your behalf. The more accounts this rep handles on your behalf, the greater economies of scale reached – for you and your rep.

How do I find one?

  • Word of mouth
  • Through a tradeshow
  • Call up and ask a fellow entrepreneur who is in the same category as yours and ask her for a recommendation
  • Through your existing retailers

What if the rep won’t rep you

If you find a rep that won’t represent you, make sure you understand why. For example, perhaps they rep for Target but in a different category than the one that fits your product. Maybe they know someone who reps in your category at Target. It’s all about the best fit so everyone is maximizing their time.

Sometimes reps and retailers are resistant to working with companies that only have one product/product line. We have found this to be true in some cases, and in some of those cases we have overcome. So, keep plugging away.

Here are some questions that you could ask of the rep (choose those that are appropriate for your situation):

  • What is your territory?
  • Are you are considering representing me nationally? Can you give me some examples of other companies that you represent nationally?
  • You have a wide range of retailers – drug, grocery, mass, catalog and online. Which categories/departments does your team specialize in?
  • Where are most of your product lines?
  • Do you have products in my category? If yes, which one(s)?
  • Can you provide manufacturer references?
  • Where are you located in relationship to the retailer headquarters?
  • What are your payment terms (retainer, commission, travel expenses, etc.)

Before contacting a rep, make sure you are prepared

You may only have one shot with this rep (treat this as a special opportunity, just as you would the first time you meet with the retail buyer).

  • Craft your sales pitch. How is your product unique? Who is your competition? How large is your market? You need to convince your sales rep-to-be that they should rep you.
  • Can you fulfill large orders on time?
  • How will you support retail sales – in and out of the store (i.e. what are your marketing plans)?psibands

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There is 1 comment

  • Jenny says:

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