An open letter to Retailers from your Manufacturing Rep

business relationship communication manufacturer representative retail services sales staff training training sessions Feb 16, 2024
Anonymous Signature

Hello, my name is, Your Rep, and I am here today to help you get the most out of your Rep (me). The relationship you have with your manufacturers rep is a critical one. He, (he can easily be interchanged with she), knows what is going on in the territory, what is selling well and what is a dud, among other things.

What he really needs to do during your first meeting, the “Hello, I’m Your Rep” visit, (and if he doesn’t you should), is make an appointment to sit down and discuss the retailers needs, expectations, plans and growth potential. Either your rep or his manufacturer has made it a point to make your life with them as easy as possible, (if that isn’t ringing true for some of your reps and manufacturers, it’s time to invest in new ones). This appointed meeting will set the tone for the rest of your relationship with the rep and his manufacturer.
During this meeting you should let the rep in on the inner workings of your business. For example you might let them know…….30% of my business is soft surface, rugs and carpet; 30% of my business is hard surface, wood and lvp; 40% is dedicated to tile/stone and slabs. Now the rep knows where he stands and what his manufacturer has to gain from doing business with you. (You don’t want a guy selling window coverings coming into your store weekly to generate business that simply isn’t there). Letting a rep guess these things can take a year and a year is a long time to wait for profits to roll in.

Let him know that the service end of your business is what you believe sets you apart from other retailers. Or actually describe to him what does set you apart, in your view, from other retailers. This gives the rep the information he needs to present to you the products and services to you that will matter most to your business.
Let him know who you customer is, who your ideal customers is, who you are looking to attract. This lets the rep know which products and services he can provide to help you generate interest that your ideal customer wants.
Let him know that if you are going to be carrying this manufacturer in your store that you want your sales staff fully versed in the product and that you expect product knowledge training on every product he has in your store. In a group setting or one on one with a sales person. A sales person simply will not sell what he doesn’t understand.

Find out what retail services your manufacturer offers. Do they offer help with advertising, business to business support, can you run a sale and how often, are there business to consumer benefits to working with his manufacturer, what does his manufacturer do to drive business into your store. The list is endless but what you are looking for is to establish a partnership relationship with the mills you are investing in. Make sure they are investing in you as well. (And I’m not talking about bringing in lunch (for the sales crew). I’m talking about partnering with you to grow your business and create profits for your company.

The rep should be forthcoming as well. This is the best way to contact me; this is how long it may take for me to be back in touch with you (if it takes longer than a few hours, he isn’t organized); here are the best selling items, display, services I have to offer you; here is the training we can offer your sales, installation and/or business office; do you prefer an appointment; can I just drop by when I’m in the area to check with your sales people to see if they need help with anything and pull drops; I am here for you to help navigate you way through our claims process….naturally we don’t have any claims, ha; I have a Facebook page for sales associates where I do training; I can train via zoom; I will visit with you in 6 months increments to show you your sales figures and that way you can see which products are generating the most profit for you. And most importantly he should ask you what would be the most impactful thing he can do for you and your business.

I heard this in one of my many, many, many training sessions………When things are good, people do business with people they like. When things are not good, they still will. Another lesson I learned from a very successful retailer……….I make sure I’m important to the important players. (Referencing gearing sales $$ toward manufacturers he needed most) I hope this helps you get the most out of your business relationship with your Rep and his Manufacturer.



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