On Being A Great Independent Rep

This week we are going to talk about what it takes to be a great rep; and what you can do to not only delight your principals but more importantly develop a win/win partnership with them where you both win more business and make more money.

First of all: get over it. Yes you’ve been taken advantage of in the past, maybe even been out and out screwed, but that was then and this is now. There are a number of great board shops out there who know how to treat their reps well; these companies have had a very successful run with independent sales reps and they are worth considering when you are looking for a good board shop to represent. Look not all shops are bad, many of them do very well and are very good.

Here is an example: There is one shop I know of that has 95% quality and delivery, they are completely customer focused and they also provide one of the best value PCB packages on the market today. The best part is that their customers love them, in fact many of their customers have been with them for all thirty years they have been in business. And here is something interesting about this shop: they pay commissions weekly, that’s right weekly! I had never heard of that and found it pretty amazing.

This is just one of a number of great shops that work very well with reps. so have hope ye bold reps there are some opportunities out there in the PCB world if you have the right principal partner.

But listen, this is a two way street so you have to be prepared to do your part. Here are seven things you can do to be an outstanding partner to your board shop principal:

  1. The old golden rule applies here: Treat your principal as you would want to be treated, be open and honest and fair and upstanding and then you can expect the same in return.
  2. Be prepared to do some work. The biggest complaint that shop board shop owners and sales managers have about reps is that many of them have reached a point where they do not want to do any lead generation, cold calling and prospecting. They just want to handle the accounts they have already or worse yet the accounts that they want you to give them. This is not going to fly, if you are a rep you are a sales person and sales people look for new business, they are always looking for new business. Just about anyone can manage accounts, winning them is the hard part.
  3. Stop talking about how much it costs to be a rep, we get it, we know it is expensive but like every other business it is high risk / high reward. If you’re not comfortable taking the risk you should get a direct job where your expenses will be covered.
  4. Believe in your principal. It’s as simple as that, if you don’t feel that you are representing the best board shop on the market then. If you don’t believe with all of your heart that you are selling for the best board shop in the business, it will show, your customers will feel it and your principal will feel it. So make sure that are selling a product you can be proud of.
  5. Stay cool under pressure. Look stuff happens that’s just the way it is in not only our business but every business. Don’t panic, a good shop will work it out and solve it, they don’t need you jumping up and down in their face, calling in every five minutes to check up on operations and making a complete pest of yourself. If you truly believe in the good shop you represent, have enough faith in them to know they will take care of business.
  6. Be accountable, do some reporting, help the sales manager with his forecast, work with her in developing account strategies, participate in their sales meetings. It’s all part of being a great partner, a great asset to your principal.
  7. And finally be there for the long haul, be committed to your principal and provide value whenever you can.

And finally, yes I always under promise and over deliver, here’s reason number eight: treat everyone with the utmost respect from the inside sales people, to the people building the boards to the people shipping the boards treat everyone in the company with respect. They are all as important as your are.

There it is, there is still good money to be made selling printed circuit boards if you are willing to be committed, and if you are willing to spend the time and effort to make it work. It’s only common sense.


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