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:
- How many lines do you currently represent?
- Do you have any competing product lines?
- What can you do for us and what are your expectations for my product line?
- Do our territories match up geographically?
- How many lines have you lost in the past five years and why did that happen?
- Who are your 10 biggest clients and can I speak with them about you?
- What will you need from us to do your best job?
- How knowledgeable are you about the promotional products supplier arena?
- Have you worked for a factory directly? In sales? Management? Production?
- 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.