Last post, we talked about importance of hiring sales reps — or at least looking into the importance of approaching one during the next month or so. Today, I want to delve into the subject a bit deeper.
Often I am asked: what will a sales rep do for me that I could not do yourself? Personally, I have told most of my producers that no one can do a better job of selling their products other than themselves. So then, why hire a sales rep?
Eric Debelak, of One Stop Invention Shop shares his thoughts on this subject:
Sales reps bring with them expertise, experience, industry knowledge and many contacts within the industry–all things that you need to succeed. Additionally, while stores will buy from anyone, they prefer fewer vendors, so sometimes being an inventor with one product makes it difficult to get into retailers. But having sales reps that already sell to your target market means that many of your target stores already buy from your rep and can add a new product without much hassle. Also when adding new stores, your reps won’t face the same resistance that a one product inventor faces since they carry other products.
Finding sales reps can be a challenge, but there are several ways to find and contact reps such as:
- Region gift shows
- Gift marts or showrooms
- Store buyer referrals
- Talk to other producers in your niche
- Trade magazines
- Sales rep matching services
- Or you can buy a list of sales reps
(NOTE: More detail on the subject on my Squidoo Lens: Where to Find Sales Reps for Your Products.)
Eric continues his article by explaining how to send mailings to sales reps:
Having great materials for your rep mailing is key to success. You need to let reps that you have a hot new product, that you are running a professional and serious business and that you are ready to do all it takes for your product and your reps to succeed.
The literature should include sales flyers, price lists, stories and testimonials. You should offer samples, list your web page, and include info on manufacturing capabilities. Discuss marketing support, i.e. ads being run, trade shows you will attend, PR efforts, and other support. Offer information on sample policies, consignment or guaranteed sales for new customers, and co-op advertising programs. Also include what reps will receive for promotional materials, sales materials and samples.
You need professional looking materials so the reps know you mean business. If your mailing looks like it was put together by a fly-by-night company, it is unlikely you will attract talented and experienced reps.
Eric offers more information on how to succeed in hiring a sales rep that I highly recommend reading if you are headed this direction with your business.