The phrasing changes from month to month, but a consistent message you’ll find in every issue of Agency Sales magazine is: “Manufacturers hire reps because reps have deep, intimate knowledge of the customers in their territories.”
That’s true, but reps don’t just have deep, intimate knowledge of the customers they serve, they also have deep, intimate knowledge of the markets they serve.
So it’s only natural for a manufacturer who wants to break into a new market and reach a whole new set of customers to seek out a rep who is a subject-matter expert in that market.
Sometimes a manufacturer will find that the rep company currently serving that manufacturer’s customers in a territory is (or can become) exactly the subject-matter expert needed to break into that new market. But in other cases the rep may decide that breaking into that new market would be a distraction from his or her core competencies and encourage the manufacturer to find another rep to be its market expert in that territory.
In this issue of Agency Sales magazine we look at how manufacturers use reps to successfully break into new markets, which sometimes involves a mutually-agreed-upon arrangement where two reps overlap geographically but each has their own exclusive market segment.
Can two reps coexist in the same geographic territory, separated only by their assigned market segments? With meticulous attention to communication and planning, the answer is yes, says MANA past Chairman of the Board Mack Sorrells of Metal Working Solutions in Van, Texas. Mack joined Eriez Manufacturing Company’s rep network to sell separation technology products almost a decade ago. Mack reports tremendous success with Eriez and no significant conflicts with other Eriez reps who work the same territory, but serve different markets.
The only cautionary note for manufacturers who might want to use reps to break into a new market is to think about how the rep will fund his or her efforts to launch this new initiative. Even if your products are well established in other markets, a rep who is breaking into a new market for your company is pioneering your line in that new market, and it may be in your best interest to offer that rep market development funds to help offset the cost of that pioneering effort.
Manufacturers breaking into new markets always face significant challenges and obstacles, and the best way to navigate those challenges and obstacles is by partnering with a rep who is a skilled territory and market subject-matter expert, because it is that subject-matter expertise that will make the difference between disaster and success.