In Part One, we talked about different referral methods to find sales reps. In this part, we can talk about where we can find different sales reps and sales rep organizations. Most of these options allow you, the producer or crafter, to talk personally with a rep, see their current line of products, and see if a relationship can be established.
Region gift shows are specifically designed for buyer to meet manufacturer, but are also one of the best places to solicit sales reps and let them know you are looking for representation for your line. Often when touring these types of shows, sales reps companies are the majority (or at least a large portion) of the exhibitors. Sales reps may be very busy at these shows, but at least you can get a feel for the type of products they represent and how they sell to their potential store buyers. If you see a company ‘in action’ that you like, you can talk briefly with them and follow up after the show is over.
Gift shows and not open to the public and have many requirements for attendees. Make sure to check the scheduled dates and make arrangements with the show management company before traveling to a region gift show.
Gift marts or showrooms are building(s) of numerous rooms where gift wares are showcased year round. Most of these rooms are run by larger sales rep companies that may be looking for new products. Showrooms are more relaxed than gift shows, but you may need to make an appointment ahead of time to talk with a potential rep for your product(s).
Once again, gift marts are not open to the public either. Check also which days the rooms are open and if you need an appointment to visit a specific room as the marts may not be open certain days of the week. Make arrangements for passage into these marts ahead of time.
Sales rep organizations are available nation-wide to help put rep and manufacturers together. These organizations list a database of sales representation looking for new produce lines. Most of these organizations feature a widely advertised website with lots of helpful information you can access on-line. Unlike gift shows or gift marts, you may not be able to meet face-to-face with a potential rep, but most organizations take time to help you find the right organization for your line.
UAMR (United Association Manufacturer’s Representatives) is probably the biggest organization where you can connect with sales reps. Membership for manufacturers does require a fee, but the potential as a member is endless.
Other sales rep “matching services” include the following (not an exhaustive list):
Next week, we will talk about what to do when you find a sales rep for your products.