If you plan to grow your wholesale business, you may need to consider hiring sales reps or manufacturer reps. An independent sales representative or sales representative organization (or group) will offer your products to their established gift buyers who are ready to buy new items for their stores.
Sales reps’ main purpose is to introduce, educate and take orders for product lines and receive a commission as compensation. Reps commissions are taken out of the wholesale price of the product rather than on the price differential between buying and selling prices. Using sales reps probably qualifies as the lowest cost option for manufacturers interested in expanding sales regionally or nationally.
Manufacturer reps are found and hired through many different venues. Listed below are some of the places where sales reps can be found.
Six places where you can find sales reps
- Store buyer referrals are an excellent source of information regarding good sales reps. Visit with the owner/manager of your local gift store and ask them to share with you what companies have good sales representation that may be looking for new products.
- Talk to other producers in your niche who have successful sales reps. Most established gift manufacturers or producers can give you some excellent referrals for reps or rep organizations they have used.
- Regional gift shows are also a great place to solicit sales reps. Booths at these types of shows are often run by sales reps or rep groups that may be willing to talk with you about representing your line of products.
- Gift marts or showrooms, unlike gift shows, house numerous rooms where gift wares are showcased all year round. Many of these rooms are run by larger sales rep companies that may be looking for new products NOTE: Gift shows and gift marts are not open to the public. Check any show or showroom before you visit to find out their specific requirements for visitation.
- Trade magazines such as Country Business or Gourmet Retailer feature multiple gift companies. In the back of these magazines, you may find a ‘Want Ads’ listing where you may find a sales rep company specifically looking for new lines.
- Sales rep referral or matching organizations are one of the best options for finding a sales representative for your products. These organizations host a listing of sales representation looking for new product lines. Most of these organizations have websites with lots of helpful information to help you with your search.
Below is a list of some of the most popular referral organizations (not an exhaustive list):
- UAMR: http://www.uamr.com
- RepHunter: http://www.rephunter.net/
- Manufacturer’s Representatives Wanted: http://www.manufacturers-representatives.com/
- Manufacturer’s Representative Profile: http://www.mrpusa.com/
- Sales Agent USA: http://www.salesagentusa.com/
Hiring a manufacturer rep can be one of the best ways to grow your company in the wholesale market arena. Connecting with the right rep is often as easy as just talking to the right people. Do you work with sales reps? If so, leave a comment below and share your experience.
This is a guest post from Sandy Dell. Sandy is an experienced independent sales representative for the gift industry. She is the founder of Selling to Gift Shops where she helps entrepreneurs sell their products to stores and work with sales reps.
Hello, my name is Bruce Zipper. I own a baby quilt manufacturing company called Comfort In The Word in Miami Fl. You will see our product which are baby quilts with embroidered scripture on them from the old and new testament. We sell hospital gift shops all over the country and been in business for 9 years. Our biggest customer is Christian Book Distributors who sell a lot of our quilts online through their website. We are looking for sales help to big box stores. Please contact me if you have any ideas. Thanks for your consideration, Bruce Zipper
Hi Bruce. Your product sounds cool! I own The Happy Envelope—we actually aren’t in fabric at all: we design print gifts that utilize scripture and positive messages. But I’m wondering if you have a contact for the buyer at Christian Book Distributors. I’m just now trying to get into the wholesale game more fully, and I’m at a loss for where to start!
Hello my name is Aaron and we are a manufacture in the quilting industry attempting to grow our business also. We are looking to get help selling our products (quilting stencils, pre-cut applique, and pre-printed pantographs in more wholesale stores. Please contact me if you have nay ideas.
I have been making soft dolls for 41 years. I had a rep one time and did quite well and he retired. Some dolls are primitive some and for people who are collectors or decorators. The dolls I make for children are child safe ( no buttons or embellishments). The primitives do well in antique shops. I am 78 years old now and it is a little harder for me to get on the road with them. People like to hear that a senior is still working and active.
Thank you for this wonderful info! I really appreciate your ideas. Many thanks
I have a product that is simular to holiday static cling window designs! I am looking for a rep or rep organization to go to retail stores.
Hello, these are great tips. We produce bath & body products and have coined the phrase #shavenaked with our bath bomb product. We have been contacted by Dragon’s den about an appearance up here in Canada. We are looking for manufacturing rep’s in the US and Canada to put us into more wholesale operations.
My name is Jolene Shields, I have been in business for 35 years and had reps in San Francisco and Dallas. I have also been featured in several retail Gift catalogs. I currently have a best selling Name Drop line for gift shops, tourist destinations and more. I am looking for active reps across the United States that are as dedicated as I am to expanding my line. Please contact me if you are interested in these beautiful handmade, made in the USA products. Thank you, Jolene