Is Working as an Independent Gift Sale Representative for You?
Sales Repping is a Postive Experience
Being an independent sales rep to the gift industry for over eight years, I have found some of the most positive working experiences in my adult life. If I had to do my life all over again, I would be a self-employed sales rep! If you are interested in learning more about sales repping, read on …
Traits of a Successful Sales Rep
There is no magic formula to becoming a successful sales rep! If you have a reliable car, a desire to meet and help people, a business card, a handshake, and a smile, you are on your way to becoming a great sales rep.
Many sales reps start out for some of the following reasons. If you answer positively to some or most of the following attributes, sales repping may be a good business for you:
1. Do you like nice things, and the touch and feel of at least one category of gift item?
2. Is self-employment, with a small start-up investment, appealing to you?
3. Do you love traveling and meeting people?
4. Do you enjoy sales and especially the retail environment?
5. Are you a self-starter and want to be your own boss?
6. Would you like the freedom to attend family events or take vacations without asking permission from a boss to leave work?
7. Are you patient, able to communicate well orally and in writing, and love to solve merchandising or business problems?
8. Do you prefer to work in a self-employment situation where most of your customer contact hours, will be a more traditional 9 to 5 slot (even though you might end up working other tasks outside those hours)?
Sales Repping is NOT a Job!
The sales rep business is very different than working a 9 to 5 office job, even though those are key hours for you as well. Your time will be split between on-the-road time – buyer presentations – and home (or road) office work – which may vary somewhat depending on the time of the year. Typically, you will be calling on buyers between 10:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon, Monday thru Friday. Of course, you will get calls in the evenings weekends, or early mornings, but most buyers work fairly traditional hours, and will want to see you during those times.
Typically a successful self-employed person works a LOT more than 40 hours per week, especially in the early years of your business. Office work can spill over into a 60-plus hour work-week, especially during busy sales months. But if you like (or even love) your work, like I do, and also enjoy the flexibility to control your time off when you really need to, the work feels more like play than lots of hours. Imagine a job where you get to go into gift stores 35 hours per week!
Sales Reps Spend Time on the Road
As a rep, you will spend a great deal of time in your car traveling from town to town and store to store. Rather than working in a stuffy office, you are out in the sunshine (and sometimes the rain or snow!) where you can enjoy the most beautiful scenery your territory has to offer. For example, spring is one of my favorite times of the year, and driving every day is a wonderful experience, watching the trees and plants come out of their winter sleep, bud out, and flower. Repping will offer you the chance to fully experience the changes in weather and seasons – very different than watching from an office window.
On the other hand, working in a heavier populated area, may pose a slightly different perspective. Travel time between stores likely will be less, although you may be fighting traffic and looking long and hard for a parking spot in order to keep your appointments. Your sales territory will likely be smaller and your customers located closer together (which means more quality time INSIDE the customers stores… and possibly more income!) Walking and/or using local transit may be one of your modes of transportation between stops.
Sales Reps have 'Down Time'
As a sales rep, you will experience free or down time when you are not working with buyers. Early mornings before stores open and evenings after they are closed are excellent times of the day to catch up. If you have a territory where you will be spending much time driving, you might listen to educational or motivational tapes, or relax to the pure enjoyment of “books on tape” (or CD). Continuing your education will keep you sharp and help you solve potential problems during your sales calls, and maybe help you manage your business. Listening to tapes and CDs from your favorite motivational speakers, sales consultants, and trainers is an excellent way to utilize your “down time” while traveling in your car. I do some of that. But just as often, I enjoy light rock or meditation music from my satellite radio (a must if you work in rural areas!) You would think the relaxation music would put me to sleep, and make driving dangerous, but I find it merely quiets me down from the worries that creep into any small business.
Sales Reps are their Own Boss!
Also on the plus side, as a self-employed person, with no bosses and no employees, you enjoy the option of setting your own hours and days of work. Maybe you are suffering from a bad day or poor health, and wish to stay in, to make phone calls and finish paperwork. You benefit from the freedom to schedule your appointments around important events with kids or grandkids. You can schedule a vacation for whenever you want (although you will gravitate toward slow sales times), or do an impromptu recreation day once in a while.
Your time is yours to work or play. Although, if you are like me, you will find that because you love your work and find it so rewarding that you will work longer hours than you ever did working for corporate America! But the choice is YOURS when you make this decision – not someone else’s!