5 Questions to Ask Your Manufacturer Sales Rep Before You Say, “You’re Hired!”

Questions to ask your manufacturer sales rep

Are you looking for a manufacturer sales rep agency to distribute your eco-friendly children’s product?  Before you hire any old agency, be sure to ask these five important questions first:

1.    What Kind of Results Can I Expect?

Asking this question allows your manufacturer sales rep agency to set expectations in terms of sales and number of retailers who will likely carry your products.  Your manufacturer sales rep firm should be able to give you some general information about how other product lines they represent have done in 3, 6 and 12 months time, as well as discuss with you how many of their retailers they think will be a potential retailer for your product(s) too. Your manufacturer sales rep agency should have a lot of success stories, antidotes, and examples to help you understand what kind of results you can expect should you decide to work together.

2.    Does Industry Expertise Really Matter?

Many manufacturer rep agencies specialize in a specific industry, while others don’t have a specialization, per se. You may be wondering if you should work with someone who specializes in a niche category or go with someone who has a more broad category offering.  I personally believe you should work with someone who specializes in your niche category for several reasons:

  • They will be extremely knowledgeable in your industry, which can help you penetrate that industry faster;
  • They already have taken the time to cultivate a target audience to distribute your product to within that niche industry;
  • They will give your brand credibility-through-association by aligning your product(s) with already established products in your niche.

3.    What Kind of Marketing Support Do You Offer?

Distributors should be your right-hand marketing support system.  After all, if you make the product and do all the marketing, and then your sales rep is just kicking back and making money, something is not right with that picture! You want to work with a manufacturing sales rep firm that supports your marketing in every which way they can.  They should be active on social media, actively be marketing themselves to retailers and other brands, and have an up-to-date blog and newsletter support system to help promote all your great products and accolades.

4.    Can I Sell My Products Through Another Distributor Too?

Many of the products we carry at Green Team Distribution we distribute exclusively, such as Tree Hopper Toys, Diaper Dawgs, and Siliconies Teething Jewelry.  While exclusivity is great for your manufacturer sales rep, you have to decide if you can live with it as a manufacturer. Perhaps your products appeal to a variety of categories – you may not want to limit yourself. On the other hand, if your product is very niche, then giving your manufacturer sales rep agency exclusive distribution rights will bring about a stronger relationship because they will be more inclined to offer marketing assistance knowing they are the sole distributor that will benefit from those efforts.

5.    What Is Your Fulfillment Process Like?

This is a very important question, as you want to make sure that if you’re entrusting a third-party to fulfill wholesale orders, they have a great system in place.  Learn about their ordering process – do they have an up-to-date ecommerce platform or do they depend on archaic faxed purchase orders? How long do they take to fulfill orders?  A manufacturer sales rep agency is supposed to ease your fulfillment burden, so make sure they are prepared both technology- and staff-wise to handle orders swiftly and professionally.

What other questions should manufacturers ask their manufacturer sales rep agency before hiring them? Please sound off in the comments below.

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