One way inventors get around the problem of being the new kid on the block is to hire independent sales agents, also called manufacturers' representatives. Rep companies and individual representatives typically work with a plethora of buyers in an industry. Retailers are often more willing to buy from sales agents because reps typically check out the companies they sell for and won't handle a business with a shaky financial background. If the buyer trusts the representative, he or she will transfer that trust to the products the representative sells.
How do you find agents to sell your product? Brad Young posts a sign in his booth at trade shows saying he's looking for representatives. Other methods you can use to find representatives:
1. Visit stores and look for products similar to yours that appear to be from smaller manufacturers. Young, for example, looked for clothing accessories. Then ask the store manager who the representative is that sells the product.
2. Look in industry trade magazines for representatives advertising for new lines. Trade magazines often operate booths at major trade shows, or you can find them at the library in either the Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media or the Standard Periodical Directory.
3. Look in the library for the MANA Directory of Manufacturers' Sales Agencies, which lists the names of representatives around the country, or contact the association directly at Manufacturers' Agents National Association, P.O. Box 3467, Laguna Hills, CA 92654 or by calling (877) MANA-PRO.
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