Your products are selling great at the store where you have your wholesale account, but you are overwhelmed with keeping up with or developing more accounts for your line. Maybe it is time to hire a sales rep ….
The job of a rep is basically to “represent” the manufacturer’s, distributor’s, or importer’s line of products to prospective buyers, and make sales. Those buyers are typically retailers, but may include wholesalers, distributors, or service businesses as well, depending upon the industry and/or product line.
As part of their service, reps call on prospect businesses and present the client’s products in a positive light (as a way to solve the buyer’s marketing needs). Effective reps must answer product questions intelligently; offer promotional materials, terms and other information; and ask for orders and re-orders in person, or by phone, fax, or email (and increasingly, via their own web sites – mine is at Idaho Gifts Wholesale if you want to see what I do).
Sales reps exist (somewhere) to target virtually every size of retailer from small mom-and-pop stores to large “big box” retailers, including chains. And of course, reps usually specialize in either the product lines they sell, and/or retailer categories they call upon.
In the gift industry, reps want to show profitable standbys, PLUS they need some of the newest, and most attractive or innovative products on the market. Reps maintain the face-to-face contact with retailers, and make it easier for retailers to trust and try new lines.
Good sales reps work hard and perform many behind the scenes tasks such as the following:
- Research stores to see if their vendors’ products will complement the current inventory
- Call on stores numerous times if necessary, to generate an order
- Spend a large amount of time on the phone, on the road, or in their showroom presenting products, answering questions, and finding just the right combination of products to sell to their buyers.
- Take care to organize and follow up on leads they receive
- Manage a large amount of information on their vendors and products along with information on store buyers – including their buying preferences
- Make sales appointments – which buyers may or may not keep – and still maintain an upbeat attitude in the process
- Keep track of vendor’s inventory while in the stores in order to make order recommendations and alert their vendors if there is buyer resistance and low inventory.
- Process orders for their vendors in a timely manner
- Maintain numerous customer databases, customer management records, bookkeeping and other paperwork
If you are interested in learning more about working with sales reps, check out my best selling eguide: How to Find, Recruit and Manage Sales Reps