On The Road Again


MLR Hiring Checklist

If you are thinking about hiring a multi-line rep to service your supplier company, consider these tips:

  • Plan to provide ongoing training on products and production on all lines.
  • Keep reps in the loop whenever there are challenges with inventory, product quality, customer service, etc., so they can be prepared when meeting with distributors.
  • The sales agreement must include specifics about the territory covered, a description of job responsibilities for both parties, and clearly defined sales expectations, compensation, and show and sample budgets. If there are house accounts, be clear about them. Also, include a termination notice of, ideally, 30 days in the first year and 60 days in the second and subsequent years on orders placed.
  • Give your multi-line rep the authority to make sales decisions.
  • Recognize that the rep wants to be an integral part of your company.
  • Include reps in industry trade shows and distributor events.
  • Don’t expect skyrocketing sales increases in the first six months—good things take time.
  • Ask the rep for a business plan that clearly maps out the rep’s strategy.
  • Find a rep who is responsive. Don’t pinch pennies to lose dollars.
  • Don’t ask for call reports. If these are needed, consider a full-time factory rep instead.
  • Pay the multi-line rep for all orders that come in from the states he or she covers including national accounts if they have offices in that territory.
  • To find good reps, query distributors in that territory. Ask which multi-line reps are working the territory and who they would recommend.
  • Be respectful and thoughtful about when and how often you travel with a multi-line rep. One or two trips per year may be sufficient.
  • Be careful about taking multi-line reps off the road for long sales meetings. Not making calls costs them money.

      10 Questions Suppliers Should Ask When Hiring MLRs:

  1. How many lines do you currently represent?
  2. Do you have any competing product lines?
  3. What can you do for us and what are your expectations for my product line?
  4. Do our territories match up geographically?
  5. How many lines have you lost in the past five years and why did that happen?
  6. Who are your 10 biggest clients and can I speak with them about you?
  7. What will you need from us to do your best job?
  8. How knowledgeable are you about the promotional products supplier arena?
  9. Have you worked for a factory directly? In sales? Management? Production?
  10. How are you reaching out to distributor clients other than through personal visits? (For example, social media, digital marketing, websites.)

The Mark Of Excellence

Each of this year’s recipients receives a custom, silver-plated lapel pin that identifies them as a PPB Best Multi-Line Rep. The pin is generously designed and donated by Harvey Mackler, MAS, president of PPAI supplier member Gempire/gwi (PPAI 113471).

Multi-line reps have long played a significant role in the development and success of the promotional products industry. At The PPAI Expo 2017, some of the industry’s earliest multi-line reps were among those honored as PPAI Pioneers. Learn more about them here.






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