While it’s true that selling products directly to the consumer today has been made easier by the latest technologies, the need for face-to-face sales exchanges between real, live human beings remains a critical part of any successful sales strategy. The trouble is that many home-based or other small business or franchise owners with something to sell often find that the retail marketplace is nearly impenetrable.
If you’re a business owner, especially a new one, you may be looking for ways to get your products on as many store shelves as possible. One way you can go about it is by cold calling retailers that feature products like yours to see if they’ll bite. Another is to spend whatever it takes on search engine optimization to maximize your online exposure. Direct mail and email campaigns have also been known to bring in orders, but at what cost?
It might be nice to know that there is another option―you can hire a firmly established, professional sales representative, or “rep.”
A sales rep, also known as a sales agent or broker in some industries, is an independent business person who acts as the sales arm for one or more enterprises and is a professional who specializes in the retail marketing of a range of complementary products and services. Most reps are paid a commission for their sales efforts as opposed to a salary, with the typical rate somewhere between 10 and 15%.
Using a professional sales rep can be a great investment for any entrepreneur, as they typically manage a host of long-standing and trusted relationships with multiple retailers in specific industries across the country. That means that buying into the right rep’s established network alleviates your need to identify and pitch relevant retailers yourself, saving you significant time and money. Sales reps also provide a certain degree of credibility in the marketplace, especially for an upstart business owner who is new to the game.
While some sales reps require an advance on commissions, the vast majority of them only get paid if and when they sell your products or services to their clients for resale, so what have you got to lose?
The next question you might be asking is, “How do I go about finding a professional sales rep that will represent my products or services to the greatest number of appropriate retailers in the most favorable light?”
There are a number of ways you can get started, and here they are:
At the end of the day, one thing all sales reps can agree on is that they only want to represent businesses if the packaging, price and level of demand for what they’re selling are right. Additionally, entrepreneurs need to know that reps do their homework too. If a rep thinks a business is unlikely to fill orders in a timely fashion or is close to going out of business anytime soon, he or she is not likely to risk his or her hard-earned reputation by affiliating themselves with that organization. Good sales reps are smart business people. They are looking to build long-standing and credible relationships with both their clients and their customers. Their livelihoods, and perhaps yours, depend on it.