How to Improve Manufacturer-Rep Relationships
Buying group Azione Unlimited survey tackles ways that reps and manufacturers can work better together. Timely sales reporting is named as No. 1 area that needs improvement.
In an effort to improve the dealer-rep-manufacturer triangle, buying group Azione Unlimited embarked on a comprehensive study, which included an open discussion at its recent fall conference and surveys completed by Azione dealers and independent manufacturer’s representatives.
The final installment of the study was a survey to reps on five subjects relating to the rep-manufacturer dynamic. There were more than 75 participant responses. Click here to read the complete 54-page PDF survey results.
“The opinions from the various camps point out that everyone can improve their conduct and modus operandi,” says Azione president Richard Glikes. “Imagine if we all worked together? We would be more profitable, efficient and harmonious. Not such a bad thing.”
Reps were asked to rank a list of 11 tasks in order of importance to them/their firm of what manufacturers could do to provide better service to reps and dealers:
- Provide timely sales reporting – 35%
- More training tools prepared in advance of product delivery – 24%
- Have consistent commissions structure – 16%
- Give access to data on incoming inventory shipments – 8%
- Allow more discretion to solve problems in the field – 7%
- Share trends on how well products are selling in other territories – 5%
- Require less market analysis – 1%
- Have longer contracts with R&D companies – 1%
- Have credit status of dealers supplied weekly – 1%
- Schedule more dealer visits – 1%
- Schedule less dealer visits – 1%
5 Responsibilities Manufacturers Have to Reps
Be Proactive: Notify of supply issues, respond to market differences, ability and awareness to “lead the need” in product development, when coming to visit provide an agenda, inform reps on product changes and availability, confirm orders submitted and provide detailed shipping information (warehouse, eta, backorders), provide credit information, advance notice of upcoming changes.
Be Responsible: Make goals/targets reasonable, pay commissions on time, immediate notification on product issues or shortages allowing reps to be proactive in the field, be truthful, take ownership of all issues (credit, returns, sales training, programming, etc), ask for reports keeping in mind more reports mean less sales time, be straight about issues and own the resolutions, communicate clearly changes in distribution and policies.
Provide Materials: Provide good, accurate and real time sales data, train and provide materials on new items prior to product launch, offer more training, offer demo gear at reasonable prices, easy to reach, top-notch tech support 24/7, maintain a good website, up-to-date information on why your product is better than the competition, provide or allow access to all data related to account/market.
Be Supportive: Help promote products in the markets, create hot innovative and reliable products to sell, do not make deals with the dealer behind reps backs, provide returnable demo gear for testing and education, make it easier to set up accounts, keep commitments to dealers, share best practices and success stories, respect the relationships reps build with dealers, set reasonable “buy-ins” or accounts will give up before even trying.
Be Open to Us: Reps are the gateway to dealers and can make or break a relationship, trust their assessment of dealers, offer straight answers, allow reps to build markets together, use reps to help judge wisdom of product plan details before committing to it, consult reps prior to releasing products or programs for market perspective.
The study also offers suggestions from reps to manufacturers that would help make their jobs more productive, including better training and access via a 24/7 portal that will allow them to place orders and see real-time information on inventory, credit status and pricing.
The study outlines the value that reps believe they bring to manufacturers. Knowledge, experience, expertise, installation assistance and value are among the responses.
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. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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