Fact and Fiction About Independent Sales Reps in the USA
(Written for non-US manufacturers)

Article on US marketing by Chuck Klein

Many non-US manufacturers need a greater understanding of how to succeed using independent sales REPS. This document outlines several negative statements about using REPS followed by an explanation and recommendations:

"REPS DON'T WORK ON DEVELOPING SALES -
THEY JUST TAKE ORDERS"

Some manufacturers complain that REPS don't go out to develop new business. They just "take orders" that the manufacturer would have received anyway.

This statement is normally UNTRUE. This can happen when a manufacturer does a poor job in selecting the REP and takes a REP with too may lines or that concentrates in the wrong markets.

Sometimes a REP doesn't work hard because he is unhappy with the manufacturer and the level of support he is receiving. In order to succeed with REPS, manufacturers must have an ongoing support program to help generate new leads for the REPS.

But in general, good REPS do a lot more than take orders. They take advantage of contacts they have to sell products for all of the manufacturers that they represent. Manufacturers must make an effort to recruit the right REPS for their company.

 

"REPS DON'T KNOW THE PRODUCT WELL ENOUGH"

Some manufacturers complain that REPS try and sell products without sufficient product knowledge. Once again, it depends on the REP you picked. Professional REPS specialize in very defined product areas. Thus, if you use a REP selling medical diagnostic equipment, the REP should have the capability of understanding another product in a related medical area. REPS want to understand the products they represent - as they only make money if they make a sale! So if your REP does not know your product, either:

You picked the wrong REP.

You did not give the REP enough training. The manufacturer controls -
       to a large extent - the success of the REP.

"REPS WON'T SPEND ENOUGH TIME ON MY PRODUCT"

Some manufacturers say that it is difficult to get enough of the REP'S time since the REP sells for many manufacturers.

It is true that REPS sell for numerous companies and WILL NOT spend all of their time on your product. But neither will a distributor who sells your product as they also have many items to sell.

The key to getting more of the REPS time is to make your company the "psychological favorite" of the REP. As the psychological favorite, the REP will want to spend more time on your product line because:

You pay a higher commission than other companies.

Your company sends him many sales leads generated from advertising.

You go to more trade shows - generating sales leads.

He likes you - personally.

The REP thinks - that in the long run - he can make more money on
       your product line.

The more you help and support the REP, the more time the REP will spend on selling your products.

"REPS DON'T LIKE TO SELL NEW PRODUCTS"

Some manufacturers say that REPS do not like to sell products that are unknown - they want to sell established product lines.

To a point, this is true. It is easier for REPS to sell products from a well known manufacturer that are already being sold in their market. That is the ideal situation for the REP.

Some REPS will take on new product lines that require extensive work to get sales going - others will not. If the new product fits in really well with the products the REP is selling - he may be willing to try. Other REPS - usually larger agencies - will not.

Manufacturers with new products need to search carefully for exactly the right REPS - the REPS that are selling to the same customers you want to reach.



REPS ARE NOT WILLING TO WRITE REPORTS AND DO OTHER "NON-SELLING" ACTIVITIES

Manufacturers are sometimes frustrated by the lack of response by REPS to requests for Reports and other paperwork.

It is true - REPS do not like to do paperwork as it takes them away from their primary activity - selling! They get paid when they sell. They DO NOT get paid for writing reports.

Although REPS hate to write, they love to talk. So the best way to get feedback from the REP is by calling him on the telephone and meeting with him periodically face to face.

Good REPS - the best REPS - love to sell and hate to write. So what would you rather they do? Send reports? Or sell your product?



THE TWO MAIN REASONS FOR POOR REP PERFORMANCE

POOR REP SELECTION

NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT BY THE MANUFACTURER


Both of these are within the control of the manufacturer!



For more information on using REPS in the USA as well as other USA marketing issues, please contact:

AMCON MARKETING STRATEGY INTERNATIONAL

www.amconmarketing.com



About the Author:

Chuck Klein is managing partner of Amcon Marketing Strategy International, which specializes in helping non-US companies profit in the USA. Amcon provides tangible marketing and human resource services in the US including market studies, competitive intelligence, strategic partner searches, rep searches and executive recruitment serving clients worldwide.

Klein is considered an expert on US marketing for non-US manufacturers and international trade. He has published over 100 articles and presented numerous seminars and lectures on marketing skills and strategy for non-US manufacturers interested in the American market. His book Marketing to America: How non-US Companies can Profit by Selling in the USA was published by the Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Amcon's web site is: www.amconmarketing.com

e-mail: info@amconmarketing.com

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