A question which comes up in many conversations is what should I look for in an independent rep or Rep agency? The most common misconception is that the rep should have solid experience or be carrying another line within my category of product or service. The reason this is a misconception is that if the rep is already active within your category of product or service, they will also likely be locked up under a non-compete agreement. Here are the main things I always look for when building out a rep team:
- Connections to the industries you want to target.
If the rep has connections to your targeted industries and can make proper introductions within a reasonable time period, that is money! Even if they don’t know all the specifics of your product or service, they can connect you with the right people and that carries great value. You will need to provide tech support to the rep, yet you know your product/service in and out, that’s the easy part.
- Do they have competitive lines?
If they have lines which are direct competitors of yours, that is a red flag. Usually means the rep is going to their contacts with 2 or 3 options and it often is a lowest price wins situation. Meaning the real benefits are often not ever addressed.
- Do they have the time? How many other lines do they carry?
Larger rep agencies with several reps under their umbrella can definitely handle several lines within their portfolio. Yet a single operator who carries 6-10 lines, talk with them in detail about their time availability. The one exception is in the gift segment. Smaller purchase gift reps can handle several lines at the same time and have success.
- Are they an experienced Independent Rep?
Sometimes a salary rep may have been recently let go, or quit, etc. Decided they will give this Independent Rep gig a try. Unless they have some financial backing and the stomach to put in the effort until commission begin to come in, they can sometimes be very short for the project.
- Are they responding to my communication?
One of the biggest complaints I hear is; “the rep doesn’t get back to me.” Absolute pet peeve of mine. If things are going good on the street or not so good, communication should be happening. Solutions can always be found. One reason this happens is that things are not going smoothly. This is an opportunity for dialog. These are reps, not miracle workers. Talk with them, see if changes to presentation, target segments, etc can be made. Yet if the rep goes crickets….red flag.
This list is far from conclusive, as each companies needs are different. Yet if you keep your eyes open for these issues, you will be on the right track. As always, if you have any questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org