After 35 years in the rep business, I cannot help but reminisce about what my kids refer to as “the old days.” Often we made deals with a handshake, told our principals we would do a good job for them, went out and did it, and never worried about receiving our check.
My, how times have changed (and I am sure for the better). We have become much better businesspeople. Selling is just not selling anymore, but a combination of sales, marketing, consulting, accounting and much more.
When interviewing for a new line, the first two questions we ask are: What is your marketing plan? What are you prepared to do to help make this a mutually successful relationship? The point, of course, is that the question goes both ways. We are, after all, a team. For a team to win it requires a team effort. It cannot be one-sided, otherwise we are doomed to failure before we start. Winning requires a well-coordinated plan. The absolute best manufacturers we have worked with over the years worked with us to formulate such a plan and stood side by side with us to make it successful.
Perhaps this is overly simplified, but before manufacturers and reps commit to the terms of the relationship, it should be clearly understood what the requirements are — and it’s not just a contract.