Are you ready for a sales rep? Perhaps you’ve read other posts in this series, covering an overview of working with sales representatives as well as the pros and cons of sales reps, and you’re starting to think that finding a rep to pitch your bath and body products to wholesale accounts might be a good idea for you and your business. Before you jump in head first, consider the answers to the following questions:
1. Do you have more than just one product for sale?
Reps want to present a full line of products to a buyer – it makes it easier for the buyer to envision an entire collection on display, rather than wondering how/where they will put a single sugar scrub where it will receive enough attention to entice sales. If you only have one product, you’re likely not ready yet for a sales rep.
2. Do you know your true costs and profits, and would you still be profitable even after paying a rep up to 20%?
This is absolutely critical. You don’t want to get into an agreement with a sales representative only to find out later that you’re losing money on each and every sale. Before you give sales reps another thought, check out Price-O-Matic from Lucky Break Consulting – it will help you get your numbers in tip top shape and you’ll clearly see which items are your most profitable and those that you may not want to offer at wholesale.
3. Do you have your wholesale terms and product information readily available in a line sheet?
A line sheet provides a prospective buyer a quick and easy way to read your terms such as minimum orders, payment methods accepted, order turnaround times, etc. A rep will need line sheets to show buyers, so if you haven’t already, take the time to create one. It doesn’t have to be fancy or long – in fact, crisp, clear and to the point works much better.
4. Do you have a history of proven sales and/or existing wholesale accounts?
Sales reps are more likely to agree to represent your line if you can show that your products sell, and well. If you’ve gotten press coverage for your products in addition to strong sales, even better! A rep can use both of these informational tidbits to encourage a buyer to snatch up your hot products. If your sales are sporadic and if you’ve pitched a number of stores with no results, then your business isn’t ready just yet for a sales rep. Work on increasing sales and securing an account, and this may show a sales rep enough promise that they may agree to rep your product line. Remember, sales reps work on commission, so they want to spend their time selling items that have a successful history.
5. Do you have marketing materials at the ready or do you have the resources and commitment to prepare them?
Sales reps need and require marketing materials including free product testers, samples and brochures/shelf talkers to better display your products to a retail buyer. The more you can help the sales rep do his/her job, the easier sales will be and the more accounts they will land!
6. Are you willing to take the time to properly train your sales rep?
You’re likely overwhelmed and tired, wearing most, if not all of the hats in your business. But once again, your rep’s success will greatly improve if you take the time and make it a priority to properly train him/her so they are fully informed about your products, ingredients and what makes your line different from all of the other bath and body companies out there.
7. Are you able and willing to let go of any control tendencies and trust your chosen rep to properly represent your line?
You shouldn’t set your rep free, only to hear from him/her sporadically, but you also cannot be calling, texting or emailing every day with requests for updates. Your rep has a job to do, and they will likely be representing other product lines as well. Constantly hounding him/her about progress, potential accounts and plans for the next stores they’ll be approaching takes away from the time they have available to represent all of their lines. Come to an agreement with the rep about how often the two of you will touch base, and approach these meetings (and the representative relationship) as a true partnership, and you may find you have a lot of confidence in your rep and can take the inner control freak down a few notches!
8. Do you have the resources and infrastructure in place to handle increased sales?
If and when the sales rep does his/her job and lands you new accounts, do you have the resources to make more products in a timely manner, room to store raw materials and packaging as you buy in bulk, procedures in place for shipping, updating inventory and ordering supplies? If you have policies and procedures already set, and people at the ready to step in and help you out with making, packing and shipping orders, it will save you a lot of time and stress rather than trying to wing it and figure things out on the fly as orders are piling up.
These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to determine if now may be a good time to hire a sales rep. If you’re not ready just yet, that’s fine – you can spend some time working on the areas that need improvement so that when you do have your ducks in a row, you’ll be ready to move quickly with a rep. Our next post in the series will cover how to find a sales representative for your business, so check back soon!
What do you think? Is your business ready for a sales rep? If not, what area(s) do you need to work on first? Share in the comments below.