5 Reasons to Invest in Your Independent Sales Reps

Charlotte Harper
August 28, 2014

I speak with a number of wholesale businesses everyday who use independent reps to sell their products. These reps are usually carrying multiple lines within the same industry (e.g. Outdoor) and are selling to independent ‘mom and pop’ shops. Traditionally, this industry has been fairly antiquated in terms of its order writing processes, with the majority of reps still using pen and paper. Some may even have their own method of order writing, involving tools like laptops, excel spreadsheets and palm pilots. If these reps are not employed by you, why should you care about investing in them with a tool like sales order management software? I've listed some reasons below.

5 Reasons to Invest in Your Independent Sales Reps

1)  You are increasing brand loyalty of your reps.

Most independent reps are carrying multiple lines, so you need to ensure that your brand is front of mind when they walk into a store.  By giving them a tool that is fast, easy to use and offers an overall better customer experience, by logic, more business will be written. Why? Think about it. I’m a rep and am using pen and paper to write my orders, where by extension I have to manually fill out lengthy, tedious forms. If someone gives me a tool where, by tapping my fingers, I can showcase my whole catalogue and submit an order in a matter of seconds, I’m clearly going to prefer it. When you make life much easier for your reps, they become brand evangelists.  Happier brand, happier rep, happier customer.

2) By investing in your reps, you are investing in your brand.

When you provide robust tools that enable your reps to better do their job, you are making an investment in your organization.  You are saying that you care about how your products are positioned, the real estate they occupy in stores, and the expectations of your customers being met in terms of on-time delivery and accuracy of their orders. These all have very positive implications on the overall perception of your brand.

3) You are increasing efficiencies across your order management process.

By taking the leg work out of the actual order writing and fulfillment process, your rep is able to focus more on building relationships with their customers, and your customer service reps are no longer wasting time re-keying information into your back office. Let’s not forget the competitive landscape here – if your brand is getting an order in the system before their competitors, that order will be processed and fulfilled/shipped quicker, therefore hitting shelves sooner, and increasing the chance of maintaining your premium shelf real estate.

4) You get more visibility into how your independent reps are performing.

Order management software gives you access to reporting that allows you to directly check on rep performance - exactly how much they're selling, what products are in highest demand, and more. We hear that it's often more challenging to get access to this level of business intelligence when working with independent rep firms.

5)  You're embracing technology, before it's too late.

Whether we like it or not, technology is drastically shifting the way we live our lives and run our businesses. In order to stay competitive as a business, we need to not only accept, but embrace change, and be adaptive to change that is often beyond our control. We are starting to see a big change of consciousness across wholesale, where more and more businesses are taking advantage of the many benefits cloud and mobile technology is offering. Apps have fundamentally changed the way we live our lives and run our businesses. Now’s the time to embrace them, ideally, before your competitors do.

Investing in your independent reps leads to major gains

By investing in mobile technology for your reps, you are ensuring a smoother customer experience, less manual work, and happier customers. It's important to invest in your independent sales reps just as you would your internal employees, as they are front line representations of your brand. If you've seen an impact after making technology investments in your independent sales reps, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below.