Thursday, March 19, 2009

Promotional Products Sales Reps

Care and Feeding of Sales Reps - A Mini Maintenance Manual

At some point in future, when your promotional products
division expands enough, you may find yourself working with sales reps. They can be great, quirky, and a pain in the butt. They can also bring a lot of work and business into your office, and you need to be prepared to succeed smoothly.

Status and Pay Structure

As a rule, reps fall into one of the following categories of pay structures:

* Salary plus commission - they are an employee, company handles deductions
* Straight commission - self-employed, must be multi-line, handles own taxes
* Draw against commission / Guaranteed draw against commission - can be self-employed

The above definitions are flexible, and are wholly dependent on the agreement between company and rep. If the company wants a rep that will work solely for them, they must look to hire an employee. Otherwise, they must interview for an independent contractor.

The rate of commission, amount of draw, etc. carries an industry standard, but is one of the details settled between the company and rep, and stated in the contract.

Salespeople can receive their commissions when they write up the order, or when the customer pays their invoice. Usually, and advisably, the rep gets paid when the company does to avoid problems and repayments if the order falls through before completion. Should the client not pay their bill, the sales rep should call on them and find out if there is a problem that needs resolution and to ask for payment.

Whether or not reps get certain expenses paid for by the company depends on their contractual agreement with your company, but generally they pay their own and receive a company budget allotment for samples, Idea Books, postage, and the like. If the reps are self-employed, they can use their expenses towards their tax deductions.

Rep Responsibilities

Typically, salespeople are assigned to a specific city or area. They are responsible for physically tending to clients and potential clients within their territory. They are your company's presence in the field and are the face and voice of your company.

Their job also includes:

* Representing the client to the company
* Solving problems
* PR
* Company and product awareness
* Establishing relationships
* Making and closing sales


Inside support is crucial to reps. Without it, they cannot properly do their job. A support position of this nature is usually referred to as Sales Assistant or Sales Co-ordinator. Each one is assigned a certain number of reps to care for, and that number is dependent on how much work is expected from the individual reps. It is assumed that the larger the territory, the more inside work to be done. For example, one person may be the sales assistant for a rep who covers a large city, one who does small province or state, and one in a quieter area as well, perhaps even more. Another person may be the assistant for an entire large territory. The number of assigned areas is directly related to amount of work they generate, and how much one inside sales assistant can handle.

Sales support staff are responsible for being the rep's right arm, and doing whatever is necessary to be done from in-house in a timely fashion. That means quoting, mailings, samples, taking phoned in orders from the reps clients, anything special that cannot be done in the field, or that they need extra help for in order to close a deal.

It is extremely important that your reps have company backing and support as they need it. If something they need, or need done is not carried out in time, they stand to lose a sale and a portion of their livelihood. They tend to get a little testy in that type of situation.

The objective is to meld and become an inside/outside sales team.
Other Sundry Details

* Once a rep establishes a client, all sales are credited to that rep regardless of whether the order is called in to the office by the client, or the rep sends/brings it in personally.

* All discounted quotes and product affects the rep's pay and they take a cut in commission unless the company agrees to take it solely from their portion of the profits.

* If a sales assistant reaches any sort of impasse with a rep, hand the situation over to your manager/boss. If tempers fly and it there doesn't seem to be a resolution, remove yourself and let a cool head intervene.

Salespeople are like the rest of us (normal). Some are hyper and a ton of work, some are demanding and nasty but bring in the highest sales, some are very sweet and only call when they have to. Mostly they're fun, nice, and hard working. All good ones are a tremendous contributing factor to your year-end figures, and a welcome addition to any promotional products business.