People always ask me how to know if they picked the right Manufacturer’s Rep to represent their product. And it’s a legitimate question. The last thing you want to do is to put your product in the hands of a rep that can hinder your success. And as a Product Entrepreneur, you are probably already pretty stressed out about all of the money you have spent in developing your product. So making the right decision as to who to work with is probably top of mind for many of you.

However, before I get into the specific characteristics of a quality Manufacturer’s Rep, I’d like to mention that even if you pick the wrong rep, it’s not the end of the world…you can still turn things around! And I mention this to you because I meet so many Product Entrepreneurs and Inventors who seem to have these fatalistic views of what ‘could’ go wrong if they don’t make every business decision right. And for some reason, this is especially true when it comes to picking a manufacturer’s rep to represent their product.

I swear Product Entrepreneurs seem to liken working with a new sales rep as to giving up their first born :-). Funny but true! And I get it. They spent all this time working on their project and then they have to relinquish the reigns and hand over their ‘baby.’

Btw…I’m not making fun. I actually relate! Just last night I noticed myself getting uncomfortable when I gave admin rights to my website to someone who was helping me with SEO. Stupid but true! You work hard on something and you don’t like letting go…its human nature. And all entrepreneurs deal with this! So just be aware and keep going.

But the truth is, if you really think about it, what could a sales rep do that is so bad? Make the buyer hate you? Ok. Well, if that’s the case, then please note that buyers change jobs constantly at the chain store level (see other articles to learn more) and if one buyer hates you, another one won’t.

Another common concern is that a sales rep will sell your product to the wrong stores and/ or if the shelf life of the product is limited, then they can ruin your chances of your product’s success. And all I have to say is…give me a break!

Products have comebacks all of the time! I’ve had products crash and burn at chain stores and then later, because of sheer determination, I got another buyer to buy my product and the product did well. So stop worrying so much!

And of course I am not saying that you should pick any manufacturer’s rep. All I’m saying is that you should do your best at finding an excellent manufacturer’s rep, but if you don’t, then give yourself a break. You can find another rep or just do the work yourself ie what I teach. So bottom line – you have options!

Anyhow here are some of the characteristics to look for in a Manufacturer’s Rep:

1) Do they have experience selling products similar to yours?
2) And if not, can they at least discuss with you what products they have gotten into chain stores?
3) Do they have a track record of success?
4) Do you like them? This is a biggy…stay away from people who are annoying to deal with!
5) Do they take the time to discuss their strategy with you? This is a partnership. They should include you in their process.
6) Do they represent too many other lines similar to yours? This could be a problem because you are competing with shelf space and the rep will usually spend the most amount of time with products that make them money already. Initially, this may not be you.

Anyhow, I hope this list of characteristics helps. I’m sure there are more, but this at least gives you an idea of what to think about. And just remember, you might have to try out a few reps before you find the right one. But at least now you know what to look for.

To your success,

Karen Waksman

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