The quickest way to scale your product-based business is to sell wholesale. Rather than try to increase the number of customers you sell 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.
How sales reps 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 territory that you agree to. 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 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 are able to 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 definitely worth it as my business tripled in size that year.
Sales reps are paid 15% commission for orders that are sold 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 serve better you will. The benefit of having local knowledge always helps understand the needs of retailers they work with.
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 are 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 referrals by just picking up the phone and asking vendors I met at shows what rep groups they enjoyed working with.
Online- There are a few websites where you can find connections on such as greatrep.com or saleshunter.com.
Trade Journal- Often times sales reps will advertise in the various trade journals. I did an article with a list of trade journals here.
If you want to learn more about to scale your product-based business schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me here.
Also, come on over and join our community of like-minded product-based business owners over in our Facebook group here.