Secrets of a Sales Rep with Carina Murray


Hire Your First Sales Rep


Lesson Info

Secrets of a Sales Rep with Carina Murray

I would like to bring up karina murray so we can have a little child you know we've talked about all this stuff in theory we've talked about how you know you need to protect yourself is in manufacture but I wanted you to hear directly from a sales rap about you know what she looks for and I also want to preface this conversation by saying she is just one rep the weather one of it in and she works in a very specific industries so you know her answers to these questions will help enlighten all of us but at the same time I want you all to still do your homework and get to know people in your own industry because the answer is made very based upon your your background and everything so um cream that there's a creator murray from crowing canary um one my good friends and boot camp speakers and so I wanted you to start off by telling everybody about your rep group and kind of who you who you work with and the types of products you guys carry and just some background information sure so I fel...

t that the company ten years ago and I currently have five reps that work for me and different metro areas so we're really concentrated in more you know, city specific like we don't have any presence in the midwest so I work in portland in seattle and I also have erupted new york in boston and l a san francisco etcetera we do have more of a focus on paper goods so that's kind of our basis so a lot of lines that do stationary but we're also work with lines that have quite a few gift items as well but we do our nishi is really paper goods yeah and you guys have a lot of your lines that are paper focused have expanded and other gift categories to clean that's been great for us because we do exhibit at new york now twice a year and it's been a really growing category for us good so one thing that a lot of people frequently ask is how do you scout new lines like you know, we talked earlier about you know, the questions to ask and things like that but I I'd like to hear from you about you know, when you're there pitching you just as much as you're kind of keeping an eye on the market to see who might be a good fit with with other things you're carrying. So can you talk a little bit about that? Definitely while it's always changing which I know is a strange answer but, you know, depending on the market what our accounts are looking for if there's a saturation of something than obviously, we're probably going to stay away from things that are flooding the market but in general I'm always looking for things that are unique and different and feel like they have a distinctive point of view, so, you know, I'm not looking for things that have that if I saw line and someone would automatically compare it to something else, that probably would be a match for us because someone else is already doing that and hopefully doing it well, we're also looking for a kind of innovative categories. So when I talk about gift items like looking for things that are interesting and different and aren't on the market and then once again because we have our focus on paper, we are always looking just for, like, great new, strong stationary lines that have enough within their line for us to move forward. Are you ever afraid to work with brain and companies, or do you prefer that they're a little bit more seasons, you know, it's hitting miss if someone's already had a business before, maybe they've already had a line, and then that would be an exception for us because, you know, they're familiar with the industry. If you're brand new to entrepreneurship, then I think it's really valuable tio have, you know, kind of done your homework, cultivated some of those relationships independently and, you know, wait to pass off the baton for sales until you're at a point where you can no longer do it because you're going to want to take that feedback and gonna want toe manipulate your prices, change packaging think about different aspects of the business and make those changes before you reach out to reps yeah, it is harder to make changes once you kind of brought these people on board because if you do make changes then you need to re sample that you know you have to keep them updated so it does become a little more challenging for sure let's talk about the pitch process and I'd like to start off by talking about how you prefer to be pitched but I'd also kind of like to talk about some of the missteps people have made in the past when reaching out yeah again is in the industry specific in terms of we are working with a lot of lines that have lower price point items so it's easy to stample s so keep that in mind if you're doing something that with higher and goods it's a little more challenging to communicate that but it's great to get, um a snail mail submission with a catalog and just a short note um the second tier would be an introduction email that's personalized so it doesn't feel like it's a template email that you've sent out to twenty different people spelling the reps name correctly I know these things seem very rudimentary but you would not believe some of the pitches were seen and using the reps name two I have seen some of the pitches and you know dear chrome canary that's not you I mean it is your company but you yeah you know, with social media as well it's really nice I love it when someone will say hey follow you on social media you know, I know you were just in new york I saw that you're this great bakery you know, making those sort of connections very important in our relationship and and I feel like that goes a long way of course having outstanding product is the main thing but the relationship is really up there as well. S o again that top tier would be reaching out by mail if you can if you're able tio sending a sample or two you don't want to send a lot so there's a fine line you know you don't want to send me everything you have because they feel obligated to return it and then if you're not able to do that, just crafting them email that is really personalized and and also asking about how it works if you don't know how often how people that are like I want to talk to you because I need to know how this is going to benefit me and because it's a mutually beneficial relationship you kind of want to approach it from that standpoint and not just what can I get out of it right like anything really yeah, but I think in general that's where people go wrong and pitching what it's like you know I want I want I want well yes it is mutually beneficial so which leads us to your other question about some of the four paws which if any of you have done this it's okay like we all go through a learning process but I would avoid you know we get people will pitch us in the comments of instagram and say check out my line I'd really like to work with you you know, obviously that's not the best way to make a first impression twitter instant messages facebook friending like just be professional think about it in the same way you would pitch a retailer that you want to work with it's a pretty similar process yeah, it is and I would also just piggyback on what you've been saying because I've heard you say it multiple times. Trade shows air not a place to pitch a sales rep if a sales rep has a trade show booth and they're selling from that booth that's not a time to approach them because they're busy selling for their current clients so e usually meant not so you know that's a great point and the difference being that reps will walk shows sometimes the pain, your industry, so if they introduce themselves that's great, but usually it's just meant to be an introduction and, you know, it's an opportunity for fall of later, so keep that in mind, you're not usually going to negotiate anything on a trade show for that. If iraq was eager to do that, I would want to step back and say, you know what? Let me do my research, let me think on it, there's no reason to rush into something like that. That's a great point to you going back to the whole dating phase that we talked about the beginning of the segment, you know, those events are a great place to connect with people, but you take those conversations further later bye, taking them awful tired, not awful, and taking them out of out of the situation you're in and just elaborating on him then. So we've talked a great deal to about sales tools and how they're super critical when working with sales reps. Can you explain to everybody in the audience about how utilize the sales tools? I think it will provide some context as to why they're so yes, absolutely, yeah, in the sales tools course, I was so excited just to hear, you know, prepping people on how to make a good catalog is so important because the catalog is going to be useful for you is a manufacturer, but if you're working with sales reps it's imperative we use catalogs all the time use them within our appointments wanna writing orders we use them to market to people we have buyers that want us to leave them so that they could easily place reorders between appointments and they really are a tool that we use on a daily basis and you know the other things that were mentioned as well. So having a social media presence that's the sales tool as well we have buyers that want to pick up a line we're working with that maybe they passed on before because they're like oh, you know what I started pulling them on instagram I see they're doing this really cool new thing the website presents all those things really helped everybody so anything for the most part that arrest asks you to dio is going to help your business it's not just gonna help the rap so keep that in mind. Earlier we talked about finding a rep and we talked about word of mouth referrals things like that muslims you carry now well first of all, how many lines do you carry on average about twenty five within our different territories and how often ravaged almost every single day in high volume yeah, you know, there's a been a flow. So I think it's been talked about in some of the other courses as well, like, know your industry, like when I was exhibiting in new york now recently, it's not a good time to pitch someone when they're in a trade show either and mistakes happen when I first started roughing, you know, I did things like that too, but as you get more familiar, just be more strategic about when you pitch, people could make a big difference, but I wanted to go back, teo, the word of mouth stuff and, you know, well, you leverage that when you're looking for new lines like, well, you ask around about a line or were you ever asked your lines if about others, I mean, not so much the lines we do work very closely with our stores, so sometimes it counts we worked with, we'll say, hey, we really love this line it's been selling well, or they're very easy to work with a ship quickly, those air, the take the tips we get from stores and then in general it's just a kind of an awareness of watching people grow, seeing the way they interact publicly and social media, so, you know, we are all being watched in that way and you know, if a store were also to tell me that, you know, they're always should be their orders, lee, they're charging our credit cards too soon, that would be a red flag for us, and we'd probably not approach someone if that was the message we were consistently hearing it's important to think about how that word of mouth referral goes both ways, like you're going to ask other lines and you're gonna ask your retailers about, you know, some reps that might be a good fit for you, but reps are also doing the same thing. They're doing their due diligence to look at you and also seeing what your reputation is in the industry that you're in. So I just kind of wanted to show how that's a reciprocal thing, too, so I didn't want to give plenty of time for everyone in the audience to ask questions as well. Are you open to the next one? I love that there's one from the online audience let's take that well, you'll think scotch and cream, I was wondering, is it better to approach the boss? Refer the region rap? You know, sometimes I don't think you could do that incorrectly, but on my website I have my kind of parameters listed for how we like it, so the submissions do go through me. And I think that would typically be true for most larger rep groups were sort of a boutique sized rep group but if you were going to pitch a show room you would probably find out who the main contact is versus saying I specifically want to work in this one area you'd want to go to whoever the main person is that field submissions right? Yeah um sometimes clear you're not quite ready for a certain rep for a group what is sort of an appropriate way to just keep in touch I've over time I've sent you know press I've received or I'll send information about releases and I don't I want to be overbearing knowing that I probably not ready for that excellent for a while so I just how do you kind of walk that line? Well, I think when it's intuition which I know is kind of tricky but if you don't get a hard no then I think it's perfect to just say, hey, I'm checking in and it's that add value aspect so if you have a new release it's a great time tio reach out to somebody in any manner if it's email questions, they enter any manner because you don't want to call them but probably, you know, email or send them a little note that would be perfect and then some reps will give you better indication sometimes I'll say things like hey, you know, let me know when your next releases out or keep me on your mailing lists, those sort of things we've been even just be direct and say, hey, you know, we are working on some new things I'd love to contact you in six months, you know, does that sound good to you and kind of feel that out too? But for the most part I think you could take the lead on it and just move forward and you'll get an idea over time. Speaking of follow up, I mean, I've kind of always had the rule of thumb for myself and probably it could be wrong, but I mean, I've always had the idea that follow up until they finally say no exactly right? And as long as I think once again, having value is huge, so you really want to think about finding good reasons sort of excuses to contact people so you don't just want to say, hey, did you did you change your mind, right? Whether it's a rep or retailer but I want to make sure that you saw we have these new items or, you know, we just created this male of it shows all our best sellers I thought you'd love to see it, those sort of things are really valuable and, you know, for anybody we're all such busy people you want just to see the highlights anyway so you know being briefed, being concise being clear there've been a lot of questions about any of the relationship and who then takes ownership of the accountants and really nurturing those what are your thoughts on that? Well, I definitely think I know the contract was touched on earlier but it's definitely about having those conversations before that happens so when you sign with someone talking about you know, you know I'm not anticipating this happening however I'd love to know what that process is like and make sure that I'm just aware of how this works with our group it's pretty seamless if it doesn't work out on either end they just revert back to the manufacturer sometimes if we get direct orders for someone we're not working with we're obviously just gonna pass it along and you know either email that information or give the buyer the contact information tio reach out to that person so there's usually not any bad blood or I can't see any sort of any problems with that really going forward, but what about the communication between the store like you don't notify them that you're not hearing no just in the sense that the next appointment we have or they say we'd like to reorder this we'd say, oh, you know we're actually not wrapping them any longer and this is how you can reach them so okay any other questions from an explorer has a question. So my question is about so let's say that you've sort of made initial contact, and maybe you're going to sit down and take a look at the line a little further, so that so you're linus flushed out. You have your forty eight to sixty and and maybe on your and you don't think it's a great fit is. Do you usually often just offer up? Why? Or I mean, I would guess it's ok, for the for us to ask, you know, if you say, you know, it's, not really gonna work out, you know, it's, okay to just say, you know, would you share that with me, or was that something you already offered up? Usually, that depends. I mean, keep in mind that, you know, we're super busy for representing twenty five different lines and as the principal of this company and a lot to dio so for me it will just able depend on the report I have with the personal already if it's someone that I've already met in person, I think it's a professional courtesy to give them a little more information or something that we can reach out by phone just to say I got your submission and I wanted to thank you and follow up. However, if it's a less thoughtful submission for me, I'm not going to prioritize that either so that's about cultivating those relationships and being thoughtful and I try to give people you know I don't want to spend too much time giving feedback because that could eat up all my days, but I try to be clear if there's a possibility to work together or if it's just not a fit for us and those are two very different camps and it's pretty clear right away and people do often follow up with me and say, well, could you recommend someone else and that's really hard because you do have to do your own research? So unless I really think it's a specific product that I really have a great lead for, I can't take the time to do that and I think that would be true of a lot of sales reps, you know, do you try to respond to every submission you see, I always have the last ten years, but there's certain times of the year where some things look through the cracks, so and that is a great thing, you know, if someone sends me a mailer like a snail mail submission, and I haven't responded it's usually because I assume they're going to reach out to me and follow up to, like, there's just kind of an onus on you, teo, to say, did you receive that? And, you know, that gives me indication to of, you know, the professionalism and how people work together, and they understand that the follow up is there, and I think there's a lot of it's, a touchy thing, it feels, you know, you're putting yourself after you're putting your work out there, you sometimes it might feel like rejection. Where is it's it's? Not always. Personally, I might love your products and there's a a multitude of reasons why they might not work, or they're not for my market, but they're clearly a very great product, but they just don't work within, you know, the type of stories we sell to, I think that's a really good thing to reiterate that just because and I'm going to talk about this, too, during the marketing to retailers course your product isn't right for everybody and that is totally okay because you don't necessarily want to be appealing to every single person you know, you have a certain target market, so the same thing goes for working with reps like they may love it personally, but if it doesn't fit within the brands that they carry and the stores that they sell, tio, the other thing is too like in your case, where you have other reps that work for you. A line may be a good fit for one of your reps in one geographic territory, whereas it's, not for others. So I'm sure you have a difficult challenge of determining whether something will work across the board for all of it is true, there's a lot that goes into that, and I'm glad you brought that up because that's something that we see and I hear a lot of people that I consult let's talk about that, you know, when we sign with somebody, we bring them on and all of our territories that may work really well in some areas, but not all so that we may end up saying, well, it doesn't seem to be working for either of us in this specific area, but will continue working in these other regions and that's a question you would want to ask if you're working with a rap group, you know how do you determine that? Or, you know, if it's not working in one area, does that mean it's not gonna work it also thinking about those bigger picture things and kind of troubleshooting before they come up? Yeah, absolutely. E o. So, if you're going to send in a mailer and you have your catalog in there in just a few samples, is it ok? And maybe this comes down to time, do you? You sort of just figure that that's, like, often, the wind, and you're not ever going to get that back. Could you ever put in, like, a pre stamped, like return for that, like, hey, you know, if this doesn't end up working out, do you mind just taking this back in the mail? Is that something that's really annoying for you guys, or do you just have to just figure? This is part of my investment in this is going to go out, and I'm not necessarily going to get that back for me personally, that would be another kind of red flag thinking that when you need one catalog back into samples like you should have a budget, that enough that that shouldn't make or break your business. I have had people do it. And if they send us all the dressed and family will do it or ask for a call tag. But it's, not the industry standard thie. Only time I would see that happening is once again, if you're looking at like high end goods, where someone will say, I'd like you to look at my line, I'm going to send it to to preview, and then you can return it at your convenience and s o those would again be like just and a different price point, a different ballgame. I would also say it, make this just and correct me if you prefer something different. If it is ah, higher priced item that not really something you confuse a police and which samples up, you know, that's where your great photography is going to come into play tio perhaps you put together on more of a look book style to accompany your catalog or maybe it's a promotional postcard that you add to it or maybe you have something online that you can direct them to look at. I mean, I think having the physical product in front of a rep is really powerful, but at the same time, if it's not feasible for the types of products that you're selling or if it's just too much of an outlay of cash to sample them or to send those out, I would try something else other than, you know, try some of these other marketing tactics and and then followed by phone to see if you could, you know, talk to them that way. Absolutely. I think that's feasible. Tiffany, did you have a question? So, um, I was approached by someone to send them a catalog and samples, and I I do know that it was happened around the craziness of new york now, so I wanted to back off and didn't follow up. Um t check in? Yeah, what what would be a good next step aside far is continuing the conversation, like what to ask for? I don't want to scare them off either on this was a sales rep not a retailer yes I think it's perfectly ok to st tapia email and say ok I'm following up I'm going to send this out that were there any other samples you need or this is what I'm planning to send along and you know just open up that communication line and you know maybe also set it up to say I'm sending this out today I'll reach out to you you know later in the month to see if you have time to chat about it so that's been done so now it's I need to make a call and with your favorites but it wasn't okay great so it's been a couple weeks I always think it's really important to put follow up reminders in your calendar to because it is so easy for time to get away and then if you feel like it's been too long it's never too long to be clear like he would always follow up it doesn't matter win but I would suggest reaching out my email and say hey want to make sure you received my submission I'd love to connect if you have any questions let me know if you know there's anything else you'd love to see so just keep it really simple and not a lot of pressure for that person exotic sense is that answer your question tiffany and checked us you like how they feel about what are their thoughts on the line or well I think it's being with little vigor because of you I get a little feel pressured when someone says what did you what exactly do you think of ally even more o s so I'd rather you know be um vaguer I focus on adding value in information somehow whether it was you have based on the timing if you had a new release coming out or if you're offering promotions or if you know maybe even to say to them you know we could try and a thirty day or three month trial or something I'd like you know, not putting the heat on exactly it but trying to kind of like show them a different side of you and in a different set of your brand and how you've expanded I mean maybe it's a symbol is telling them you acquired from new accounts in the region or whatever my feet we are talking about you know once again talking about your best seller I just created this cell she that she's the best sellers I thought you'd like to see this you know would you like to schedule a time for a call if you know but without pinning them down insane I'd like to talk to you next week but kind of putting ten e receive a fair you know I like to talk to you tomorrow are you available well, you know, I'm not really in line now. Just getting okay. Okay. Are there any questions from that? Quick questions for karina? The first one is from, um, time capsule, and she wants to know what's the best thing we can offer as a company to help our reps some more. I love that question. You know, it will depend on what you're selling and your relationship with your reps. So I think it's about that clear communication again, but having those sales tools available, I know someone mentioned the quotas. I believe that was aah! And out of studio question. And I think instead of quotas, you've been also focus on incentives. So we don't work with very many lines that do this, and we're pretty motivated on our own. But that does work for some reps to say, hey, you know, if you reach this goal or, you know, we're holding a contest and we're we're giving away one of our high end bags that were making personal stationery for the rep that reaches the school. So those air are things that you can think about that can help with that. And then in general, I think, you know, finding that communication and a way to check in that doesn't alienate either party. So maybe building that in whether it's quarterly or thinking about, you know, just a way to touch base. I like to check with my legs occasionally and give them what I call kind of aggregate feedback, because we do receive so much feedback, an appointment so we can't give all the feedback we wait to kind of. We're hearing something consistently, then we want to pass it along and say, this is something that I think would really help your business, obviously it's up to you, whether you want to do it, but it could strengthen your relationship with your reps as well as your accounts to that somebody asked. Besides, like, how does how do you sell at the stores besides a product and catalog? Are there any other things we should give, like talking point, cheat sheet or? Meaning that I think it's about when you sign on with a rep talking to find out if there is something they would need and we just signed with a line that has quite a few party goods so she created some really great swatch decks and things and that was really helpful so depending on what your products are trying to put yourself in the shoes of being of a store and selling it and thinking about things that would be helpful and talking about the ref and also before you go to the trouble of making some of those things I would have conversations with it wraps and say you know would this be helpful or is there something else that you would like and if you're working with quite a few reps over time they're all going to work a little bit differently too so you're gonna hand it kind of get to know their needs and you know if someone isn't using paper catalogs obviously don't wanna waste those and send them to someone so keeping track of that can be a full time job but it will help you immensely and catherine holloway of lovebird paper stationary line asks how long will you watch a smaller newer line before approaching them about being wrapped you know there's no real formula it just has to do with the growth in trajectory of a company so if I see you know they started small and they're adding all sorts of great things, and I can see that their brand aware mint awareness is on point and, you know, I see more presence in our stores. That would be a sort of a reason for me to move forward and get more information if someone stagnant, you know, maybe they had one great release when they launched and then there's not a lot more going on, that would be something that would be a deterrent and smurfy had a question. Can you also give us some tips on how we should go into the stores ourselves before we're ready to hire a rap? How long is the meet up in the store? Any game plan? It's really hard as individual manufacture to meet with stores, I have to say it not to be discouraging, but unless you already have a personal relationship there, very few owners that are going to be willing to do that, and that is actually one of the selling points for working with reps because we are that one stop shopping, you know, stories working with a good wrap, they're going to make time to meet with him every few weeks, every few months. So I think it would be about kind of starting small, sending out mailers they can contact that way, maybe following up via email, dropping off things by this at the store. But I would not be too aggressive in that way, because that could very easily turn a buyer and owner off. If someone is saying, I really want to meet with you and they don't have a context for who you are yet, yeah, absolutely great and syrah, cooley asks. How would it be handled if you took on a line that already had an independent rep in a territory you cover for us? It just depends it's, kind of a private negotiation for the most part, because my company is growing quite a bit. We're looking to sign with lines in all of our territories, but exceptions can be made, and I think that's probably the case with other reps and other industries to so it would just be conversation, essentially, and finally. You know katie and karina, but either of you can answer if you know about this a time capsule had one more question. How do you feel about online websites like rep finder? Tell them, find reps versus finding reps of trade shows. You know, I think it's very much like a mailing list it's not tailored enough. It certainly could be a good launch point if you don't have any information. However, it's not very well vetted and establish rap groups that are doing a lot of business are going to advertise themselves on there because they're not in need of lines in that way. So keep that in mind. You know, if someone is desperately seeking lines in a sense, that would be a little bit of a red flag to me. Because in establish rep is usually pretty busy with their, you know, the kind of line up in roster that they already have. All right, well, thank you so much for joining us. This is great information and it's always good to hear firsthand from somebody on the other side of the table about how we can be working with them in a more seamless fashion, and what really we can do to capture their attention more so, thank you for sharing with us, thanks for having me, absolutely.

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.