If you are going to hire a sales rep, following are some questions to ask:
1. Which companies and products do they currently represent? Why: because you want to make sure they are representing credible companies/product lines. Ask for references, and call those references and find out how long they have been working together. You want to work with reps who have been working with their clients for a long period of time because that shows you that they are a good partner/rep. If possible, meet with this rep in person to see if you like them!
2. Which retailers do they have existing relationships with? How long have they been working with this particular retailer(s)? One of the major benefits of working with a rep is that they are well versed and familiar with a particular retailer. They can effectively navigate their way through that retailer’s various departments to avoid problems and then problem solve when necessary. This is a HUGE advantage to you and why you are paying them the commission.
3. Do they have an existing relationship with YOUR buyer? If so, for how long have they been working with him/her? If you currently in communication with your buyer, ask that buyer if they like working with that rep. Just come out and ask the question! If the buyer stumbles in their answer, that means that they don’t care for this rep. Move on! If they love working with the rep, they will quickly communicate this with you and you will at least know that you are starting your relationship with this rep and buyer on a good foot!
4. What is their commission and how is that calculated? For example, will your rep need to travel and does it include their travel expenses? Is their commission gross sales less discounts, allowances, freight, returns for credit and bill backs? Make sure you are covering YOUR expenses.
Keep in mind that hiring a sales rep does NOT mean you are hands off. Just the opposite. You are hands on (providing your rep with sales tools, training and prompt answers to make them successful), but now you have additional support from someone who is familiar with the retailer, is feet on the ground (i.e. local to the retailer where you may not be thus saving you travel time/expense), and is a buffer asking the difficult or unpleasant questions that you don’t need to be asking – you remain the “good guy”. You will always be the best person to sell your product, but it takes more than just a salesperson to land – and keep a retailer happy.
For more information on sales reps, click here.