Manufacturers have to purchase a multitude of different items for every phase of their operation to get production through-out that meets their required consistency standards. In almost all cases, this involves interaction with a manufacturer’s representative or distributor sales rep. that consults and sells the required product. In most cases, a rep. has to compete with other companies that have the same product or similar. Many times, it is difficult to make contact (set meetings) with decision makers to present your product or solutions. People that make buying decisions are generally very busy and are bombarded with sales people wanting their time. It is usually the sales representative’s persistence that enables him/her to get a meeting with the perceived decision maker. Then, very often, they find out they must meet someone higher in the chain to get their product evaluated. In many cases, there may be multiple decision makers. The sales rep will attempt to meet or engage with one at a time, and if he is fortunate, more than one of the decision makers will be present. The rep. must be able to deal with many different types of people and personalities. This requires flexibility and the ability to modify his/her approach.
Prior to setting a meeting (and after), the sales person must do preparation. He/she needs to research the prospect company. This can be achieved via internet or any other available means. The more knowledge of the manufacturer’s operation, the better the rep can understand what the customer needs and the problems they want to solve. From there, the rep can develop a strategy to present a product that will improve their operation, solve a problem, or reduce costs. The more efficient the preparation, the smoother the meeting will go. When a meeting finally takes place, he/she must build rapport with the decisionmaker by listening carefully to their needs. In most cases, multiple meetings are required with the prospect. With each meeting, more information is uncovered, building a better rapport and credibility with the prospect. The rep. will present their product or service as to features and benefits, pricing, cost effectiveness, and ROI. The sales rep. must convince the decisionmaker that his/her product will outperform the competition in efficiency, price, and service. The decisionmaker performs the same process with competing suppliers.
Most decision makers will want to evaluate and see the product performing in their operation and conduct their own sample evaluation. In many cases, there is a waiting period as part of the selling cycle, before the final decision made – which can extend to days, weeks, months, or even – years. Generally, the higher the product cost, the longer the selling cycle. Making the decision will depend on many factors, such as the Company’s budget, ROI, and immediate need. Relationships with the key decision makers are an important part of most all sales transactions. All things being the same, in many cases, people tend to choose to do business with people they like, know, and trust the most.
Once the product is presented to the customer, continued follow-up is necessary to maintain customer contact until the final decision is made. Product testing is usually required. If test evaluations are favorable and the product is approved, there will be discussions on price and terms. It is the sales rep’s responsibility to negotiate pricing and the required contract. Once pricing and terms are agreed upon, the rep. must close the sale – an agreement is established and signed. Then the sales rep is required to make sure that the Specifications of the Product sold is consistent to the agreement – before delivery is made.
Once the product is delivered to the customer and is being used in their operation, the consultative sales rep. must, again, follow-up with the customer to make sure the product is performing as promised, and answer questions. In many cases it is a good idea to get to know the operators that are actually hands-on with the product – they tend to provide the most accurate feedback since they work with the product day in day out.
It is the sales rep’s responsibility to keep up with new technology and trends. They must keep their customers informed regarding the latest improvements and new products in their industry. Manufacturers have to continually improve their operation so they can stay ahead of their competition. Time management, prioritization, and customer qualification are critical to a sales person’s success. They must pursue prospects that are the most qualified to buy their product.
I am an Account Manager with Sigma Supply of North America, Inc. Our Company is a full-line Packaging/Industrial Supply Distributor, with 15 locations across the U.S. Our product offering consists of comprehensive lines for most applications, including Equipment for Automation. In addition, we offer Chemicals, Safety/Janitorial Supplies, Material Handling Products, etc. I focus on sales in Atlanta and surrounding areas. Our Company is a 47-year-old, Certified Woman-Owned Company (WBENC). I have 30 years of experience in packaging, both in manufacturing and distribution. I am trained to consult with manufacturers in providing products and solutions for their packaging, equipment, and industrial requirements. Products that we carry are presented and recommended to the customer based on their needs. A sale takes place if the customer decides to move forward.[Catalog]