Where to Find Sales Reps for Your Products
What is a Sales Rep?
If you plan to grow your business into the wholesale arena and offer your products to numerous retail outlets, you may want to hire a sales representative. An independent sales representative or sales representative organization (or group) will offer your products to his or her group of gift buyers and sell your products in retail stores in their territory.
Sales reps' main purpose is to introduce, educate and take orders for product lines and receive a commission as compensation, rather than making your money on the price differential between buying and selling prices. Using sales reps probably qualify as the lowest cost option for manufacturers interesting in expanding sales regionally or nationally. Finding the right rep can help expand your business greater than you as a producer could ever accomplish!
Listed below are several different places or venues where sales reps can be found.
Region gift shows are specifically designed for buyer to meet manufacturer, but are also one of the best places to solicit sales reps and let them know you are looking for representation for your line. Often when touring these types of shows, you see booths noting they are sales reps company. Taking time to observe and talk to these sales reps will give you a feel for whether or not your products will fix into their line up of products and if you will be comfortable working with them. Nothing like seeing your potential sales team in action.
Gift shows and not open to the public and have many requirements for attendees. Make sure to check the scheduled dates and make arrangements with the show management company before traveling to a region gift show.
Gift marts or showrooms are a building of numerous rooms where gift wares are showcased all year round. Most of these rooms are run by larger sales rep companies that may be looking for new products. Once again, visiting these marts gives you a feel for the gift rep in action.
There are various Gift Marts around the country. Many of them are located in or near the regional gift shows.
Again, gift marts are not open to the public either. Check also which days the rooms are open and if you need an appointment to visit a specific room as the marts may not be open certain days of the week. Make arrangements for passage into these marts ahead of time.
Store buyer referrals are an excellent source of information regarding good sales reps. Go to your favorite gift store (or shop that sells products similar to your own) to talk to the owner/manager. They may share with you what companies have good sales representation and may be looking for new products.
Using this technique will help greatly in finding a good rep (as a good gift shop owner will most likely recommend their best sales reps), but may also help build a relationship with your favorite gift shops -- an invaluable asset to a new producer!!
Talk to other producers in your niche who they use as sales reps. Most established gift manufacturers or producers will have a history of reps or rep organizations they have used and can give you some excellent referrals. Most producers are pretty knowledgeable and are often willing to share this information with you!
Networking with like individuals is always a win-win for everyone involved -- as long as your products are not in direct competition with their producers you are networking with!! Try joining social networking groups where producers 'hang out'. Or better yet join our Selling to Gift Shops LinkedIn group and bring your questions to the folks there!
Trade magazines such as Smart Retailer or Giftware News features multiple gift company with hundreds of different products and rep showrooms. In the back of these magazines, you can find a list of the different advertisers and with their contact information. Also, many trade magazines have a 'Want Ads' listing where you may find a sales rep company specifically looking for new lines.
Industry or Trade publications are a great source of information. Country Business and Giftware News are just two that have an informative website to help you grow your business.
Sales Rep Matching Services
Sales rep organization are available nation-wide to help put rep and manufacturers together. These organizations list a database of sales representation looking for new produce lines. Most of these organizations feature a widely advertised website with lots of helpful information you can access on-line.
UAMR is probably the biggest organization where you list your company to potential sales reps. Membership for manufacturers does require a fee, but the potential as a member is great.
Other sales rep "matching services" include the following (not an exhaustive list):
LinkedIn Social Media Networking Site
See what LinkedIn has to offer!
LINKEDIN is quickly becoming one of the best places online to connect with business partners, including prospective sales reps.
If you do not have a profile listed on LinkedIn, I highly recommend you do so right away. Building your profile is quick and easy - access their website at LinkedIn. Simply click the "Join Today" link at the top and fill out as much information as possible about yourself and your business.
Searching "Groups" will help you find "groups" (such as mine) which you can join. Then you would - and should - start networking (making posts in the Discussion area, asking questions, replying to other Discussion posts, etc) and scouring the Group for relevant members to contact directly.
To help you out, here is a list of some LI Groups (but there may be more) where you might network to find sales reps:
*Retail Sales Reps & Manufacturers Network
*Sales Rep Biz (another group of GiftRepSandy)
*ManufacturersRepresentatives.com (this IS a Group name)
*Independent Sales Reps
Make sure to check out my group:
If you are a LinkedIn member, you can search for sales rep groups in your particular industry and find other leads for sales reps.
An obvious tactic is to post a direct "Looking for Reps" discussion message, but be careful. Some Groups frown on, or outlaw, this kind of direct approach, depending on the group's management philosophy.
A safer approach is sometimes to click on the "Jobs" tab while INSIDE a Group area, and post for free under "Job Discussions". Again, not all groups may welcome this approach, and it will not attract the same level of eyeballs as a general Discussion post, but the option is free.
Willing to Buy a List of Sales Reps in Your Niche?
- Sales Rep Lists
Don Debelak, from One Stop Invention, has accumulated sales rep lists for nearly every industry (16 lists and growing!). You can purchase one of more of these lists by clicking here
Growing Your Company with Sales Reps
Growing your company and hiring a sales rep can be one of the most productive changes you can make when moving into the wholesale market arena. Often, just talking to the right people will help you find what you need.
Want to Learn More about Working with Sales Reps?
Are you unsure about how to go about finding, hiring and managing sales reps?
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