The quickest way to scale your product-based business is to sell wholesale. Rather than try to increase the number of customers you sell an individual product to, you sell a large number of items to a handful of wholesale buyers. The best way to find new wholesale customers is through sales reps.
All about Sales Reps and they work.
Sales reps present merchandise for the lines they represent. They work out of a showroom, or they travel within the territory they cover. They will have exclusive sales rights in the area that you agree to in the contract. If sales reps are not successful with your products, they will not continue to sell them. The reps are paid strictly by commission so they tend to show the retailers lines that will sell well, so they get re-orders.
Sales reps take orders and then forward the orders to the manufacturer who then ships the order.
Sales reps require free samples and marketing materials to help them sell your products. The more tools the sale reps have, the better they can sell your products. The retailers that buy from the sales reps need to be able to see, touch and feel the products before they purchase. You will need to make sure that you build the cost of the samples into your pricing.
The first year I hired sales reps I remember spending a lot of samples and catalogs for the sales reps. However, it was worth it as my business tripled in size that year.
Sales reps are paid 15% commission for orders that they sell at the regular wholesale price.
The benefits of working with a sales rep.
Experienced sales reps mean less management time for you. The rep will handle customer service issues and product knowledge questions for you.
The sales reps know the area they work in better than you will. The benefit of having local knowledge always helps to understand the needs of retailers they service.
How to find sales reps for your product-based business.
Trade shows- I found my sales reps by walking the trade shows and looking for showrooms that were a good fit for my products. One of the things to think about as you are looking for reps is to make sure that your products are a good fit with the other lines they carry. The reps like to be able to get multiple orders from each store as they get paid on commission. It makes it worth their time if they can show multiple lines on each sales call.
Referrals- Most manufacturers that have been in the industry for a while will have connections with various rep groups. I got a lot of references by just picking up the phone and asking vendors I met at shows what rep groups they work with.
Online- There are a few websites where you can find connections on such as greatrep.com or saleshunter.com.
Trade Journal- Often sales reps will advertise in the various trade journals. I did an article with a list of trade journals here.
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