The following is a guest post by Kate DiGiacomo.
The decision to use manufacturer’s reps, also referred to as sales agents or sales representatives, is typically quite simple. Manufacturer’s reps generate sales for the manufacturer, and in turn earn a commission on the sales. Finding manufacturer’s representatives is a relatively simple process as well. You can use classified advertisements, online job boards, or a targeted service that will locate potential reps for you. For further details on how to find reps, try reading Finding Independent Sales Representatives. Whichever route you choose to find sales reps in the first places, the real challenge begins once you have a pool of candidates. Hiring the wrong manufacturer’s representative can cost you sales, customers, money, and valuable time so it is very important that you make the correct decision. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the candidate.
Job interviews are the ultimate sales pitch. In order to get hired, candidates need to highlight their best attributes and convince the interviewer that deciding to hire another candidate is a huge mistake. If a particular manufacturer’s representative has an extensive portfolio and an impressive resume but cannot effectively “sell you” on the idea of hiring them, then he or she will likely encounter problems pitching whatever product or service they’re hired to sell.
The Right Portfolio
Acing the interview isn’t a sure sign that the manufacturer’s rep is a good match for your company. Take a look at his or her portfolio. Have they represented a product or service in your industry before? If not, you’ll have to make sure that the rep has the proper knowledge, or ability to learn, in order to effectively sell for you. If they currently represent or have represented a similar product or service before, you’ll need to make sure that there isn’t a threat of competition. If you notice that the manufacturer’s representative works with all sorts of products across various industries, you should ask further questions to find out why they’re so scattered. Do they simply enjoy variety? Or are they having trouble finding a product they can actually sell?
While hiring someone simply because you both get along well is definitely not a good idea, you should hire a manufacturer’s rep that you’re compatible with. Since much of the rep’s work will be done out of the office and you will not be able to monitor their performance, you have to be sure that you can still effectively communicate with the rep. For example, if you tend to communicate via email you’ll want to choose a manufacturer’s rep that can effectively communicate through the written word. Or, if you are very detail-oriented, you’ll want to make sure that the rep you hire is equally focused on the nitty-gritty. Otherwise, you’ll find it hard to see eye-to-eye.
There is a lot on the line whenever a new manufacturer’s representative is hired. Hiring the wrong candidate can really be a detriment to your business. However, if you do your homework and really ask each candidate the right questions, you can be confident that you’ll hire a successful and productive manufacturer’s representative.