One More Rep

By Mike Philie
In May 27, 2010

Most commercial printers have a number in mind. That number is how much more sales per month would they need to be where they need to be. It usually boils down to “if we only had 1 or 2 more good sales reps we’d be fine.” And you know, they are probably right. Now comes the hard part, finding those sales reps. Here’s where many have a difficult time. They all want the rep who’s going to walk in with their book of business, hit the ground running on day 1, never need any assistance or direction from the senior team and never say a word about the shop’s quality, service or prices. And even then, the rep is over paid.

In the old days most new reps came from your competitors. Today many of them have retired or have moved off to another industry. So finding them is even harder. Once you have a potential rep though, don’t take anything for granted. Do your best to understand how well their work will fit into your organization, confirm that your pricing is OK and that any account conflicts have been addressed. Look at this new hire with a “first 100 days” mentality. If they are going to successfully manage the transition, these days can be the most critical. Here are some things that you should get involved in if you’re the sales leader:

Where is the rep going to work from, office, home, car? May seem trivial but if things get uncomfortable this could become an issue.

If you have any weekly or monthly sales reporting that you use to monitor sales performance make sure that it’s
communicated in advance of their acceptance of the position. 

Have someone from senior management travel with the rep and help introduce the new company to their contacts. Make a point of it. Have a routine and make it happen. A great way for you to see what’s going on and to make sure that the company is being positioned in the way that is
consistent with your sales strategy.

Metrics. You undoubtedly have expectations about
their performance. Make sure that those have been clearly articulated to the
rep and make sure that everyone is on the same page relative to the scorecard
you’ll be using.

Be in a position to answer these two questions:
a.    This rep will be successful and remain employed if they _________.
b.    This rep will not be successful and will be terminated if they ________.

Expectations and results may change along the
way, that’s OK as long as you communicate clearly to the rep and that there are
no alignment issues in regards to performance expectations.

Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

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