Let’s face it those of us in the board industry have not always treated our reps fairly. We have not supported them, not been honest with them, not trusted them and yes, not paid them – the biggest sin of all.
There seems to be some kind in instinctual adversarial relationship between board shops and their reps. I cannot count the number of calls I get every week from sales managers and presidents and even owners of companies who are not happy with their reps. What I find interesting is that they don’t call me for help on managing their reps, they don’t want to hear my plan for getting more out of their reps and heaven forbid that I try to show they how to treat their reps. No they are not interested in those things at all. What they want are more reps. Yes they seem to think that no matter how much they dislike their reps, the more they are unhappy with their reps everything will be solved if they get more reps. Does that make sense to you? No it doesn’t to me either. It kind of validates that other old adage that: goes
Okay back to the first adage I know most of your out there who are having problems with your reps don’t want to hear this but this is my column and I’m going to tell you anyway so listen up.
Here now for the first time is my adage: It’s all about value. And wait there’s more:
Here are three valuable and unique ways you can provide value to your reps and hence your relationship with your reps:
- Treat them as equal partners. Welcome them to the company and the family. Treat them like family. The best rep/principal relationships I have ever seen are between people who respect one another. Be honest with your reps. Be open. Let them know what is going on at your company. Defend them when your own employees attack them. Treat your reps with respect and not only will the rest of your company treat them with respect but so in return the reps will treat you with respect as well.
- Hold regular meetings with your reps. One on one meetings to go over specific accounts with each of them individually and also all inclusive monthly team meetings as well. The team meetings should be done in a way that the reps consider them valuable. Make sure you bring them up to date on what is going on with the company. Let them know about any new equipment you have bought and what it will mean to your capabilities. Let them know of any key employees you have hired. Let them in on the marketing you are doing. In fact show them the ads you are about to use before they are published. Let them see any newsletters especially those containing special offers that you are publishing. Have your technical people talk to them your capabilities. Have special guests speakers come to your conferences to talk to them about new technologies or advice on how to sell to CM’s or technologies of the future. Make these meetings so valuable that they will want to invite other reps to attend them Educate your reps.
- Offer to help your reps with their own firms. Provide them with marketing for their regions. Provide them with local editions of your newsletters. Offer to come to their territory and put on lunch and learns. Exhibit at trade show sin their region.
And one more – always under promise and over deliver.
4 . Help them to win business. Work with them to develop account strategies from lead generation to prospecting to sales tactics to forecasting to doing whatever it takes to win the accounts. Work side by side with them. Remember investing in your reps is also investing in your own company. If they are successful you are successful.
Of course there are many other things you can do if you think about it. But the single most important take away from this column is to value your reps helping them to become your most valuable asset. If you do this, if you do it with true sincerity and commitment you will only get the very best from your reps, its only common sense.