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36 Pieces of Advice for Reps

Azione Unlimited buying group issues 36 pieces of advice for independent reps, including primary responsibilities and how to best communicate and followup with integrators.


“We love reps,” says Azione Unlimited president Richard Glikes, calling them “prudent advisers” for the custom industry.

Following a spirited debate about the value of independent reps at its latest conference, the Azione Unlimited buying group has issued 36 pieces of advice for reps.

“We love reps and have deep histories with many of these great people and companies,” says Richard Glikes, president of Azione Unlimited. “Manufacturers have limited knowledge of individual markets and the personality dynamics that exist. In my career as the vice president of retailer Bryn Mawr Stereo, good reps made huge contributions to the success, profitability, and growth of the company.

“Even now they have been prudent advisers. It is interesting to note that members thought that ‘taking orders’ was eight out of ten on the responsibilities ranking and that having an agenda prepared in advance would make these time starved executives more efficient. We are working with IPRO and local rep firms to succeed and prosper.”

Here are the tips based on a survey of Azione’s members:

Top 10 Responsibilities of a Rep
1. Follow up on orders/backorders/shipments
2. Train staff on products
3. Respond to questions within 24 hours
4. Pass on leads
5. Relay sales programs
6. Follow up on credits
7. Handle returns
8. Take orders
9. Spend time with sales team
10. Share industry trends

6 Tips for Conducting Face-to-Face Meetings with Dealers
1. Prepare an agenda for the meeting one week prior to visit.  Email it to meeting attendees for their input, additions, corrections and approval.
2. Make an appointment at least two weeks in advance.
3. Provide a list of attendees (include their title)
4. Advise dealer at least two days in advance of any special requirements needed for the meeting (projectors, screens, power, cables, etc).
5. When visiting a dealer, check in with the front office, engineering, operations and service departments to ensure all concerns are being addressed/resolved.
6. Always check on RA’s when visiting each client.

9 Tips When Making a Phone Call to a Dealer
1. Do not attempt to drive a car during phone conversations.
2. There must be a reason for the call.  Do not just “check in.” Cut to the chase and disclose the reason for the call early. Dealers do not like end of the month/period dialing for dollar calls, especially the ones using closing techniques such as creating urgency and stock threats. If you need the sales, call and ask as a business partner and offer incentives to act.
3. Both dealer and reps need to have numbers and issues in front of them when calling.
4. Let dealers know what is new and how they can protect their interests with the products they rep.
5. Dealers do not want sales calls in an attempt to pump business.  They need product information, trends, info on what is working and hot out there.
6. Stay focused on new products, pricing and incentives
7. Be quick and to the point
8.  Know the products reps represent
9. Send an email with questions or an agenda when requesting a call time.

11 Ways to Help Dealers Be More Efficient
1. Reps should submit all price sheets, spec sheets and marketing materials electronically for internal distribution (or provide links to Drop Box account or FTP where the information can be accessed).
2. Provide names and positions of any factory rep accompanying the sales rep to the meeting prior to the visit.  Also state an approximate length of time for the requested meeting.
3. Have detailed numbers on hand to discuss products, categories, sales trends, sales tracking, etc.
4. Have a list of action items both sides want to accomplish going into the meeting.
5. It is important for the reps to acknowledge how the model has changed and that it is no longer about the sell in, but rather the sell-through.  It is a pull model, not a push model. Reps provide the greatest benefit when they can provide timely, accurate info for proposals and even help in the field with demos/sales.
6. To initiate trainings on line using “Go To Meeting” or the likes.  When they do set up a personal meeting, make sure the conversation stays on task in regards to the subject matter you requested.
7. Follow up after the initial meeting.
8. Update on new product availability.
9. Reps need to be sure they have a good grasp of your (the dealer) “profile”.  Know what they sell/what they can sell.  Focus the call/meeting on a very specific product or product line.
10. Set a time limit to meetings
11. Know their products and how they differ from the competition.

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Article Topics

News · Business Resources · Buying Group · Azione · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

2 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Richard Fairbrother  on  12/06  at  10:06 AM

Good thing the 80% of us that shouldn’t be shot, already do this.

Posted by Jay Minsky  on  12/06  at  04:04 PM

Being a rep for over 20 years in the CE industry I must say I find both the video from the meeting as well as the list provided offensive. Reps are not charity cases. The majority of us are hard working individuals who are guilty by association. Trying to eek out a living in an industry that seems to change policies and distribution philosophies on the turn of a dime.

Unless a rookie, if a rep does not follow the list above as a business mantra then they should not be a rep. Another words they should have read it and been able to identify we do this already.

To the manufacturer in the video who stood up and claimed that 80% of his reps suck, and if he had a plan to replace them he would along with the 20% who he believes are good. it seems that he had this revelation long before this meeting. So if that is the case I guess his business must not be so bad otherwise he would have made this change sooner than later. Not a very good leg to stand on especially when this video is public.

Last but not least this meeting should have included reps. Not so we can defend ourselves but maybe just maybe there is a list of business practices that if the dealers and manufacturers followed as well we would all benefit from the outcome.

I do understand where this is coming from, and that it is with good intentions, but it seems that the broad stroke we were painted with is unfair.

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