How To Look For The Right Manufacturing Rep, Part 2

A good rep can boost your sales and free up your time for other business matters.

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Here are more tips on finding a rep:

6. Get smart about commission structures. Some big discount houses often work only with reps who deal with them exclusively. Therefore, you may need two reps-one who calls on big stores and another who covers specialty stores only. Commission percentages depend on what the stores your reps are selling to are paying for your product. Discount chains order very large volumes and pay much less for products than specialty stores. Because the discount houses demand-and get-good prices, there is a smaller profit margin; therefore, less commission money is available for the rep, although the rep usually more than makes up for it with the size of the orders.

7. Beware of hiring a rep who is carrying too many products or selling competing products. What is the ideal number? A common problem is reps who carry competing products without letting you know about it. Be sure to ask prospective candidates what other manufacturers they work for.

8. Keep your reps motivated. You're competing for their time, so you need to figure out ways to keep them as interested in your product line as they are in the other ones they represent. New products, great advertising and creative perks keep a good rep happy. You have to constantly be in contact with your reps. Go to trade shows with them or call a meeting to announce a new product or give some positive reinforcement.

9. Grow your own reps. You may have enthusiastic employees who have been loyal and learned the from the ground up. Try them out in sales.

10. Be prepared to fill your orders. One of the reasons some companies aren't able to hire top reps is their inability to keep up with the new business. Do you have the manufacturing power to fulfill it?

11. Monitor your reps' performance through your customers. If you want to know how good your manufacturer's reps are, ask your customers. Where can you get a better evaluation of what's really going on in the marketplace?

Hiring a good manufacturer's rep could be your company's first step into a bigger market. Once you've found a good rep or two, take the time to train them and keep them as motivated as you are. It sounds simple, but it requires dedication, commitment and, yes, sacrifice.

See our tip on Friday, November 10 for part 1 of this article

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