How To Find A Sales Rep


Hire Your First Sales Rep


Lesson Info

How To Find A Sales Rep

So finding a sales rep in in the history of teaching this cause I think this is the biggest challenge that most newer companies air new words is working with wraps this is the biggest question they have with hector may find these reps you know they feel like an enigma do they really is this do you know all this stuff? So I wanted to ask all of you in the audience as well as our online audience for those of you that are working with sales reps how did you meet them? How did you start working with them and an initial contact first and then obviously I went to the dating stage and hired them but you know when you first started how did you meet them care do you want to talk about your experience and then kelly I'll ask you to, um because I was able to participate in station show last year I met a handful of folks who came on dh then I just did research I looked at companies with similar aesthetics look to who was wrapping their lines um and then I just started by introducing myself the ema...

il and I sent maybe four, five product images and just said this is who I am I want introduce you to my line and I look forward to keeping in touch but sort of, you know didn't have a hard pitch yeah which now in realizing we should wait till you give your tips on how to pitch because I don't know that way but I was going you want to come to you since course I e get response so that was that was my next question how is the response to that outreach yeah it was it was I expected sort of nothing and it was really great so that had a number of reps it's responding acknowledge or ask for samples and then it did lead to some relationships so that on dh then others who I'm just keeping in touch with casually and right you know I got some feedback to which was great you know that they he said this is where we want your line to be before we reconsidered things like that was not more and scope and scale of your size of your line like how large it was or exactly how large it was and and then also product offering way that very really wanted to start to see more gift product integrated in when stationary lines which I had been working on but it was a good it was just some affirmation that that really is important I think for where the industry's going yeah for your particular industry it's it's definitely the way things are headed you know thank you for sharing kelly did you you worked sales reps here, right? Yeah and I've then one thing have happened into that by accident I just kind of have sort of the thinking outside the box tip tio so I'm a designer to I'm kelly autumn andi I am in the process of designing my own stationery collection right now, but in the past as a rep I've one of the things is a new designer you can think about is just kind of reaching out to people you know, a swell is attending trade shows and you know, I'm familiarizing yourself with the industry, but one thing that can kind of happen is if you are friends with people who work in retail stores that you like and they're great salespeople and they're looking for an opportunity outside of the store and kind of know the community, you know, you can reach out to your friends and just look it their background and kind of go from there too and, you know, establish kind of what really great, you know, just working with what you have and they're not ready to jump in with a show room or, you know, reaching out and reps I call them road warriors, they are way area, you know, they can be an enigma and they're really busy and there are only you know, sometimes you can kind of get the feeling that they're looking for certain lines and you may not totally necessarily at that point in your career fit in with what they're looking for so is a designer it's your job to be creative and you know kind of work with what you have as so that's just a tip no great if I was there any feedback online about let's hear paper bandit press your nickname that's paid paper matter press is probably what it is yeah I've had reps call me I've also had friends in the field recommend some raps yeah and then simply curated says with a large rap group a protest but then they decided our line was large enough for them yeah and that's common and what I want to tell people in that boat if somebody turned you down or up turns you down don't be worried about it like just continue you know if they have feedback for you that they offer you know take it as constructive and although it's only one opinion but you know use that to leverage and go back keep in contact with them again it's a relationship business so you know no at the beginning doesn't always mean no totally so where can I find a rap so we talk you guys already talked about a lot of the solutions I have but where the mouth referrals is incredibly huge on by that I mean talking to the retail shops is kelly mentioned that you're already working with asking them who they were what sales reps come into their shop that represent the type products I offer I did that with a couple of stores and I had really great success and they even helped to facilitate the introductions you know again relationship business so that's where this word of mouth the other side of the word of mouth referrals is through other you know, colleagues in the industry people that are also selling products and that you know are working with sales reps so you know if you have the relationship because you never want to ask anyone any proprietary tip of information but if you have a relationship with them already is completely find to ask them who are you working with? How do you like him and to the other thing is those types of relationships are very key when you do start going through the interview process and you want to get some referrals of do you like working with this rep? So you know, finding out who your friends are working with essentially whether or not they're a good fit for use a good spot ahs carom engine industry events, trade shows even professional associations that the's reps belonged to with, you know, industry organizations there a good place to find people at the trade shows there's typically ah place where you can post a business card if you're looking for wraps or some people put in their booth that reps wanted and so it's a good opportunity, you know, reps are typically at these shows or professional association event, and they're looking to connect with people, too. So, you know, leverage those opportunities where your industries coming together and connect meet people in person? Yeah, and also said that they met their first rap on it in a facebook group for entrepreneurs. Oh, wow, that that makes the lettuce in. Yeah, but I do think that from my experience and this is changing a little bit now, as everyone is becoming more comfortable with the digital world and social media and connecting online, a lot of independent rubs don't have websites they don't have I mean, frankly, one of my reps was using an alias email address, so it seems so crazy to me, but you know it, not all of them have a beautiful web presence or a beautiful web say, and not all the make it easy to find them. So again, kind of leveraging your relationships with other designers, leveraging your relationships with retail stores you're already working with andan also, those industry events is a good did you have a question, chrissy? Okay on dh, then just research, I mean, research research reached sirs. It takes a lot of work to find the right people whether it's an employer hiring or sales rep that you're hiring so you know again this is where you want to do your due diligence if they do have an online presidents check that out see what kind of stuff there instagramming and if it's a fit yeah so just kind of consider that um so what should I look for? And we've kind of started alluding to some of this stuff, but what kind of person is the best sales rep for me and for my business is something you want to kind of consider is you're going through this process so really you want somebody that understands your specific industry and your specific types of products because they will have a deeper knowledge of how your industry works they'll have a deeper knowledge of industry standards and in fact as we're talking about during the beginner's guide to wholesale you know some of those industry standards they can kind of help you understand them a little more clearly to maybe some of the reasons behind why the industry standards exist so somebody that's familiar with your industries really keep you want somebody that carries similar but non competing brands in their line. So what do you mean by that? Like you can have somebody that has the same product categories that you sell a for instance you know, jewelry but you want them to carry brands that complement your line, not something that's going to be in direct competition, so when they sit down at a retail shop, they have to decide whether or not to pull out your catalog or your competitors catalog because you really want them spending the most time selling your products as possible, and you don't want that internal conflict. Um, is the territory that you need is that rap rather in a territory where you need more exposure? If you're slow on sales and, you know the northeast of the u s or, you know, if you're looking for somebody specific, help tow overseas grabs, you know, look for reps that are specifically in that territory and again, that's, we're going back to your contacts asking questions it will get you far, but really, you want these sales reps to fill holes where you don't already have a good handle on the market, you don't already have direct relationships with stores, you want a good report, these air people you're going to be working with, you want to have somebody that has it was similar work style to you, so you know, are you communicating clearly with them? Do they like working on email and you hate email, maybe that's, not a good fit, you know, the's things seem like small small considerations, but actually, your relationship with this rap is going to be the biggest indicator of whether it will succeed, so having a similar work style having a good report with them having open lines of communication, providing them with those materials they need when they need them on and also being open to the feedback that they provide you is going to be critical, so having having that working relationship is really great, and that also leads into the clear communication so, you know, as with anything, you want to find the right person for the job that's going to do the best job possible, so now you kind of know what you want in the person here kind of you have an idea of where to find these people, but what questions you ask, you know, to determine if there the right fit, so don't be first of all, I want to preface this by saying never be afraid to ask questions never when you're working with retailers directly when you're working with sales wraps, when you're working with vendors to helpyou outsourcing materials, never be afraid to ask questions. You know, they're going to be interviewing you, your sales reps, they're going to be interviewing you a bit, too to find out if you're the right fit for them, so some things that we've already kind of talked about you know which lines you do carry that's a great question to ask them, because, again, it's going to give you an idea of whether those brands are competing or whether they're complementary yesterday, so to ask questions, am I asking these directly to the sales rep? Or is this all through? Email your questions right there? Whatever communication preference you and the sales that prefer is appropriate, I like to pick up the phone and just have a conversation and go through some of these preliminary questions you could do it over email to if you wanted, but I feel like a phone call, you get to know their personality a little bit better, you kind of that report that we talked about, you know, it comes through a little bit more by phone, but whatever your preferences and again, these questions to ask are kind of after you've done the initial pitch or inquiry this's after you've kind of you've submitted to them saying, hey, I'd like to work with me, and they've said, hey, let's, have a conversation now you're in the question phase of your in the dating phase of is this going to work? And should we try it out? Does that make sense? Okay, excuse me, okay, so questions to ask them, which lines you carry, which source do you work with I like to ask this because it gives me a good idea of whether or not they're targeting in the types of stores that my product would be a good fit for. So even if they only provide you with three, four, five names of stores that they work with closely, you can go online that research which the stores are doing and see what other kind of products they carry and it'll help you you can usually tell straight away from some of that beginning research of my my products won't sell well here or maybe oh yeah this is a really great fit the types of people that bye products here would buy my product directly to how often you meet with each store. This is something that I asked mostly out of curiosity but again as I mentioned earlier some raps go out monthly to their stores some meet quarterly some maybe just go twice a year like the intervals in which they meet with their reps there sorry their retail shops really also depends on how large their territory is. If they have a smaller territory they may be able to do more frequent visits. Andi also depends on the retail shop itself whether or not they want to be meeting with the reps frequently but it gives me a good indicator of how active are they? Because that will then give me an indicator of how often will I receive orders from them and will be ointments or not? Um, the next question is, do you exhibit at trade shows, and are there opportunities to participate again? This is not something that every independent rap offers this is not something that and that will be an option, but it's a good question to ask, because if they do offer it, it may be something you want to work into your budget to participate, because that is an additional fee and everything. Did you flag me? Oh yeah, online audience, one student was wondering, what interview process do you use when determining if a sales rep is a good fit? And are there any warning signs to look for? That's a good question, so in terms of interview process, I think it kind of goes back to what I was talking about with anyone with denise is question of so initially you're going to approach these ropes and say, hey, I want to work with you if they respond and say, yeah, well, talk that's when you then start this interview process and again, keep in mind they're interviewing you just like you're interviewing them so that's, when you start to ask these questions, you start to maybe ask for referrals, you'd start to kind of do some homework online and jason behind the scenes research but yeah, so your interview phase when it's like a job right? When you apply for a job you tell him you're interested they tell you you're interested and then the interviewing starts I personally like to do phone calls for these types of questions I just really feel that you can get a lot more out of it and it's a lot more concise and easier to communicate what your needs are the a phone then going back and forth the email but that's just my personal preference I know some people have other communication styles it they like they look when they want it in writing or whatever it might be and I am a big fan of having things in writing, which we'll talk about later when we do contracts and things like that. But I think for the get to know you phase a phone call is always good. Was there another questioner? Um, with the second part of that question was if they're warning signs oh, thank you. Yes, yes, um I think you're going to have your own intuition for this if you start to have this interview process with them and the conversation on the phone doesn't go well or you don't like some of their answers to these questions, you know, if they're telling you that they carry lines that aren't anywhere in line with your brand or if you know they only meet with their stores once a year or you know there's certain things that you're going to be like that doesn't sit well with me like I want somebody that's more active because the other thing is to that's really important to know you're only going to have one sales rep in each territory so you can't if somebody's not working out you could always let them go and I find somebody else but you're never gonna have to people selling in the same geographic area for you so you want to choose wisely when you choose these people and they're going to choose wisely to when they're looking for you looking at you healthcare that helps yeah betsy had a question along those lines I just have no idea do does a rep typically um uh represent ten stores? Ah hundred stores well the thirty I mean likes to just a kind of the sales rep is going to represent lines so they're going to represent manufacturers all of you guys out in the audience but their accounts when I use the word accounts that means the retail shops that they go out and work with so it really depends on the territory there in you know new york is a really busy area where there's a lot of in my particular industry station and gift shops so you know the reps there are pretty busy and they're managing a lot of accounts they're managing a lot of retail shops if you're in a more rural area perhaps there's only a handful of shops that sell station and gift items again in my case so they'd have fewer but in the more rural areas that ten times fast they they have a wider territory so they may cover not just one state but two states or three state you know they might have a larger geographic territory three new york rep so if you have one rep for a location like the northeast or new york metropolitan area say you probably want them to have a lot of stores like they if they said I represent ten stores yeah, I mean that would be like wait isn't yeah kelly hasn't thoughts let's give you like yeah well with my experience just to go back to answering that question about the red flags you as a designer should already have in mind, you know, the types of stores that you are looking at their your top and I would go from there you don't want to be annoying and you know that just go after, you know the store owner and asked them thirty questions but there's a way that you can do it professionally where you could send an email or talked to one of you know set up a meeting with ste the store owner and just ask gently, you know, I'm entertaining the thought of working with this rap. Um, do you like them? Do you have a great working relationship with them? Because it's, like you said the dating phase, you want to check them out? You want to make sure that what they're telling you is correct, yeah, and, you know, they're not just giving you the runaround and naming stores off there's a lot of red flags and also I think you're into going back to what I was saying earlier your intuitions also tell you a lot of that if some of their answers don't line up with what your goals are for working with the rap that's the huge red flag right there, so if they don't work with enough stores if they don't cover a wide enough territory, if you've done your homework and there you don't have a great research, sorry reputation in the industry, those air, huge red flags, but regarding your question about how many stores they should have, it really varies pretty widely. So, you know, I think what kelly was talking about, two of talking to your top wish list stores on dh, seeing what we're upset work with, who has a good reputation is a great way, but in getting it. I also believe in quality over quantity so if they're working with ten stores only but those air ten stores that are great fit for your brand in your products they're good um they're good match for you because maybe those ten stores they're going to re order frequently through that sales rep so I hope that answers your question thank you sure did you have another? Yeah there if you work with other line let's do it so one question was from sarah cooley she wants to know how do you vet wraps if they don't have a website that's tough and that is why I feel like sales reps are considered such an enigma because a lot of them don't have a solid web presidents I mean created maria is coming in later today she's she's exception she's got a beautiful weather say and you know they're very active on social media most sales reps or not so in terms of how to vet them, you know again asking these types of questions that are very straightforward and knowing what you want the answers to kind of be or knowing the range that you want the answers to fall into having that conversation asking these questions is going to be a really good indicator the other thing is the questions that they ask you during this interview process that's going to be another great indicator because if you don't like the question they're asking or if you think it's kind of, you're just going to get a vibe, you're going to get a vibe. And so you got to trust your intuition on that, and you also have to consider this. This is a business deal. This is something you're doing to expand your business to expand your revenue. So if something doesn't feel right, if some of the terms don't feel right, don't do it, don't do it, and you had to a trial period with a rep to see if it's a good fit. Some dude that's a really great thing, and we could talk about that morning in the contract section, but it's, totally appropriate. If you want to do a trial period, sometimes a rep may ask you to do a trial period. Sometimes you may ask them, but you know, some giving them. But you do need to get them at least a little bit of time to get things up and running, because there is that that upstart time of getting them the materials and they have to go out and meet with their stores so I would do something like a three month trial or up to a six month trial, perhaps, but really a three month they should you should have a good idea of whether or not it's working and they'll have a better sense too. I mean, if they take your products out to the stores and their retail shops aren't buying, they're going to know it's not a good fit and they'll say to you, I just I don't think this is working in my territory. So and stephanie lister ward rep says once you have a rap, do you continue your personal communication with the buyer? Like e mails, newsletters, promo releases, mailers my concern is too much overlap if the rap is in regular communication, but I also don't want to cut off communications still build a relationship? Yeah, I think that's where communication becomes really key technically for all sales aspects of this, you're going to pass off everything to your rap and they're going to do all sales communication with them sometimes the marketing again every sales rep is different, every industry is very different karina from corn canary does a lot of direct marketing to her accounts, whereas a lot of other sales reps don't the reps I worked with but not so I had communications with them, and I said, I'm going to keep these counts on my marketing list, but I will notify you of any pro most or specials or things that I'm doing ahead of time so that you have a heads up in case you're visiting with them. So again, you want europe to be the first to know about anything that's happening any marketing thatyou're doing any new releases that are coming but have a conversation with them about whether or not the marketing communication comes mew some prefer to do it, others prefer not to, but again, your sales rep is selling things, so you want to hand over all communication from a sales component to them. If orders come in directly to you, you'll want to channel that year sales rep and introduce the retailer and to your rep and say, this is my rep in your territory, they're happy to feel their order they're happy to, you know, come out and visit with you and show you this stuff in person, but that's a really great question, and it is really individualized based upon the rep that you're working with, and we have to last one sonu b s how long are you tired to your rep? Once they have open an account once they have opened a new account for you well, you'll have a contract with your rep just like you would with any other independent contractor that you hire on dh most of times these contracts well, you should build it in and we'll talk about this more later and out if you've decided not to work with each other and this is to protect both sides of the relationship but you know, typically those types of contracts include information about, like thirty days notice in writing or something like that. So can you repeat that question though I wasn't sure if it's an out with the store or an out with because she said it sonia brandolini jewelry she says, how long are you tied to your rap? Once they have opened a new account for you? Well, you're tied to work with them as long as you need to or want tio but really it's this contract you're gonna have in place, you're typically going to give each other thirty days notice to get out of a relationship that's just common courtesy common business courtesy but if they've opened accounts for you and you decide not to work with each other, usually you can take over management of those counts later so and finally chazz coal asks, can you talk a little bit about exclusivity? Is this something a rep would handle or would you and what are some of the best practices exclusivity is really touchy subject, and it does very widely based on your industry as well in certain industries, it's, it's more common to offer exclusivity where in other industries, people don't do it. My personal feelings about exclusivity are that if you're offering exclusivity to certain retail shop, that they have to be providing you with a specific volume of business every year, like you need to set some parameters around what that exclusivity requires, because you don't want to offer exclusivity to one store, having plays, one order a year, that's, maybe a few hundred dollars, and in the meantime, you're losing money to stores that air, you know, a few blocks away that would be placing larger order, so I always tell people toe enter exclusivity with extreme caution and to make sure that there's some very specific parameters around it before they offer that exclusivity. With regards to reps, they may come and ask for that needs to be a conversation rep is not going to decide for you that your have toe, they're not going to tell you you need offer a certain store exclusivity, they will come to you and say, this store has requested exclusivity, is this something that you want to offer? And they may offer their own opinion about whether or not they feel the volume of sales is you know, in a sufficient placed offer that, but ultimately it's your business and it's your job to decide whether or not exclusivity something that you want to offer. Again, I'm not not very much a fan of it. I think that she stores can be within a reasonable to a reasonable distance from one another. And if your line is expansive, as it should be, certain stores and carry one is some items. And other stores will carry other items. But that's. Just my own personal preference, having run my own creative business.

Class Description

Bringing sales representatives on board can be an extremely effective way to grow a wholesale business, but the process of adding reps -- from recruiting to managing to creating a commission structure -- can be overwhelming, and even a little scary.

In this class, you’ll learn how to manage both road and showroom reps so you can spend less time on selling and more time on managing your business and designing new work. You’ll learn:

  • How to start, maintain, and end working relationships with reps 
  • What reps look for when scouting lines and ways to pitch effectively 
  • How much reps cost and when they’re paid 
  • How to frame contracts, structure agreements, and keep good records 
  • Ways to communicate clearly and effectively with your reps 
This class will give you a clear view of what a wholesale business looks like with sales representatives in the picture, and the tools you need to bring reps aboard and ensure a positive working relationship. 


Heather Bublick

Katie is so knowledgeable​!!! Everything in the class is so helpful and the workbook is amazing! This is beyond worth the price!

Tracy Clarke

Going into this class I knew nothing about sales reps. I now know that my business isn't ready for a sales rep. However, that is so useful in itself. Plus, now I know just when I'll be ready to expand and hire a rep. And when that time comes, I know about how the relationship will work. So great to learn all these things ahead of time.

Katy Casey

Loved the class and the interview with a sales rep. I'm not even at the point where I would consider hiring one yet, but it was still so valuable to hear the insights and start planning for the future.