For any independent sales rep with the difficult task of reping multiple brands (each with their own different product catalogs, customers, promotions, and yearly trade shows) it can be a job in and of itself to keep everything straight.

Even the most organized of sales reps can come across difficulties, especially when with a retailer looking to choose products from several different brands. Sales technology like sales order management software can help solve those problems. Read on to find out how.

Life Without Sales Technology

First, let’s take a quick look at what life might look like for a sales rep without any technology to help manage multiple brands and product lines. Imagine this scenario for a moment: you’re an independent rep in the outdoor industry, and you represent five different brands, each of which has an enormous number of SKUs to keep track of.

You spend much of your time in your sales territory visiting customers, andto keep tabs on what brands each retailer usually buys from, you have to look up their prior purchases. You don’t have a way of doing this that isn’t tedious and time-consuming. It may involve pulling up excel sheets, digging for old emails, or calling the manufacturer.

At store visits, you drag cumbersome catalogs and samples from several different brands and lines into the store (keeping track of them to make sure everything stays separate is quite the task). Trying to remember product information and details across all these brands is especially challenging. You may find it difficult to talk about all the lines you’d like to mention in your sales meeting, because 1) it’s not easy to seamlessly move the conversation from brand to brand and 2) you just don’t have enough time.

With so many products, your orders are long and complicated, and you need price sheets to keep track of everything. It’s hard enough to remember customer-specific pricing schemes for just one brand, but you have to keep the information straight for five.

You submit the completed order back to the buyer for final approval, sometimes days after your original meeting. To send the final orders out for fulfillment, you then have to individually fax or email them to each brand.

When trade show season rolls around, things are even more hectic, as you find yourself attending several shows, some of which require you to cover multiple booths. Filling out different paper order forms at each booth and keeping them organized by brand during a busy show is a nightmare.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Life With Sales Technology

If you answered yes to that question above, you’re not alone. Countless independent sales reps are dealing with similar (if not the exact same) problems. There’s a better way. Let’s look at what life might be like with order management software:

Same scenario. You’re an independent rep in the outdoor industry, and you represent five different brands, each of which has an enormous number of SKUs to keep track of.

1. You have easy access to customer order history.

Each customer’s order history is stored in the application, so you can quickly see what brands you’ll be discussing and what products they order most often.

2. You no longer have five different printed product catalogs to keep track of.

All the products you sell are separated by brand and organized into one easily navigable, highly customized digital catalog that is then subcategorized by product line, product category, etc. With just a few swipes and taps, you’re able to quickly move between brands, search for products, view product images and descriptions, and add products from different lines into the same order. All the information is kept updated right in your mobile app.

3. Customer-specific pricing is automatically applied to an order.

No need to memorize or call to confirm what retailer-specific discount/pricing schemes each of your brands has created. It all gets applied to an order automatically.

4. Each order gets sent to the buyer and every manufacturer with one tap.

Once the order is finished, it can immediately be signed and confirmed by the buyer and sent out to all of your brands. When before, you were dealing with the headache of separate processes for each brand (some wanted faxes, some wanted email, some wanted excel sheets), everything now gets sent out the same way, at the same time.

5. You can navigate multiple booths at trade shows like a pro.

Due to these efficiencies, you can work every trade show at a much faster pace and maximize your time with each buyer. Moving between booths is a breeze; you have all the information you need in one mobile device.

 

Reps with multiple brands that are all using the same software vendor will see a major efficiency gain with order management software. Independent reps and rep firms who remain constrained by resistance or lag on the part of their brands, however, will not see the benefits of what could be a more seamless experience.

In fact, brands and manufacturers who invest in their independent rep force with this sales technology have even more to gain than their reps. There’s no longer a need to sink resources into data entry. Orders ship out faster. Sell-through rates are higher. And perhaps most importantly, there’s an increase in customer retention as customers receive their orders at lightning speed, error-free. It may take some convincing, but ultimately this is a move that stands to greatly benefit both parties.