How to Approach Sales Reps
Most inventors need to sell their product through sales reps primarily because they don’t have the market contacts they need to sell the product on their own. Reps are always interested in finding new lines, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to sign them up. Reps are only interested in your line if they will make money from it and your product will add to their reputation. So don’t take it for granted that you will easily land reps. Instead be prepared to create your best opportunity for success.
Points to Know About Reps
- They want to be sure they can make at least $10,000 a year off your product
- They will want an exclusive agreement in their territory for the markets they serve
- For most consumer products they will want a commission of 10 to 12%
- Reps consider their customers to be the keys to their business, so you must realize that the reps will take the customers side on most issues
- If reps aren’t being successful with your product they won’t spend time on it. You need to be prepared to change reps when they don’t produce revenue for you
Whether you develop you own list of reps, (http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2011/02/setting-up-a-sales-rep-network/) or buy a rep list (one stop invention shop has a large number of rep lists for sale http://onestopinventionshop.net/books/sales-reps/), you have to start by getting the reps interest. Often, even reps in your area, or reps recommended by retailers in your area will ask for some information prior to talking further with you. The best way to respond is through email. But don’t load the email up with a lot of attachments. Instead put everything in the body of the email, including the pictures. Remember your goal in the first email is not to sell the rep on the idea of carrying the product, the goal is just to get them to talk further with you. I found the short simple email gets you the best results. Try to cut down the file size of all the pictures so that the email opens as quickly as possible.
Your email should include:
- A short statement that you have a new product and that you are looking for reps to sell into a market, state what you market is
- A picture of the product, outside the package in use if possible
- A picture of the product in its packaging
- A picture of the product on the store shelves
- The product’s suggested retail price
- A short list of the products benefits
- A list of major sales achievements to date
- A statement that if the reps would like to know more or would like to receive a product sample to call or email you
Once you have a representative interested start by checking them out to show your professionalism.
Ask the following questions:
- What are you target accounts?
- How many products are in your line?
- What are those products?
- How many sales people are in the organization?
- How long have they been in business?
- What was the last new product the you took on?
If the rep looks promising then you have three options.
- Give out additional information on the phone and through email and send a sample.
- Answer all his or her questions and the send a complete package of information that they can then use to decide if they want to carry your product. The package should include a sample product, pricing packages, store displays and brochures, both for store owners and to be used at small regional shows or literature the reps can use to present products to retailers. Also include a list of frequently asked questions, and details about where the product has been sold to date, or if you don’t currently have sales show whatever research you have to done to date.
- Offer to work with the rep to create a special package to launch at their three top customers. This package should be to help generate sales at the stores. It could be an in-store demonstration, as special interactive display, a contest of some sort with a meaningful prize, or a package sale where you offer a complementary product, either from you or from another vendor, to generate sales. You might also decide to guarantee sales, which means that you will take the product back if the product doesn’t sell at the first three retailers.
As you probably already know, the more steps you take to land a rep the better off you are. Reps can sell a product for you for years and the upfront costs to get them started is very important.
Personal Visits vs. Phone Calls
Most of this work can be done over the phone, but if at all possible I recommend you visit your first one or two potential reps in person. You may be doing something wrong, you may have items you have neglected, or there might be steps you could take to improve your chances. All of these items might come out in a personal visit while they might not come out in a phone call. The other reason for a personal visit is that reps are often reluctant to take on a product line where you don’t have any other reps or an established network of retailers. A personal visit gives you a chance to build rapport with reps and that rapport might help you land your first rep.
Be sure to visit the page http://onestopinventionshop.net/books/sales-reps/ to see what types of rep lists are available from One Stop Invention Shop for $24.99 each.