IRs typically tend to be highly entreprenurial, self-starters and (usually) innovative. Let's remember that "independent" means "not dependent". Also, since commission-only is the compensation structure, IRs are always a variable cost.
One of the areas that was left out of the article is the independent DIRECT representative. Perhaps this is because we are a relatively new genre.
Most of what was mentioned in the article also applies to us, except that we do not have all the dealer reps selling our product in our absence.
If we fail, it is on our shoulders. If we succeed, it is our doing. This represents both the advantage AND the drawback of being an independent direct rep. We cannot count on others to make us successful, nor do we have to beg and plead for detail time, sales meetings, etc. We are 100% on our own.
I am just getting started as an independent. It's tough going...but when I succeed, it will be because I have created my own future, controlled my own destiny and relied on what I know I am capable of doing.
IRs have a unique, supportive role with the retail reps. Most of the retail reps have had their territories expanded as well as their catalog, so they have more to do, less time to do it in, and more information to try and retain. Their customers have less time to spend with them, so they need to rely on the resources they have available to them. That's where the IR comes in- answering the customer's questions, providing samples and ongoing "technical support" for both the retail rep and their customer. A good retail rep is always looking for more sales, and will utilize the support that's available. Sadly, the industry has beaten a lot of reps up, and they are content to simply collect the weekly orders like they're waiting tables.
Great article from the Independent's point of view!
Interesting article. being a manufacturer that employs independant teammates I must agree that much said there is true and the value of a really good independant is well, invaluable. As a rep, a mentor, confidant and hopefully friend. The downside is the lack of trust that can exist between some and their companies, on both sides. Yes, most companies have been burned by a lazy rep or two that has cost them marketshare longterm, or one that sells them out to a higher dollar, which i have seen on multiple occasions and experienced first hand, earlier in our PDT days. All reps have been burned by companies too, companies that decide they are "paying too much money" to a rep (forgetting said rep helped them GET there), and can them, cutting commissions, etc.
I have always said a rep should not be released for earning $100,000.00 commissions from a company, but maybe they should for $1,000.00 commisions. This too has caviots, though. Is the company doing everything they can to assist the reps unique territory growth? Products considered excellent? Most of us, I fear, do not look inward and challenge our own resouces to support a failing rep/territory. Many companies find it easier to simply replace the rep, unfortunately. I personally have replaced reps too, showing me that without a doubt, some products or companies are not a perfect fit for everyone.
One can only hope that trust is increased by both parties by dealing with each other with integrity and openness.
In the meantime, heads down, asses up, quit whining about a recession and lets all work through it, shall we?
Fred - Good points in your post. As an independent rep for many years, I have seen the other side of the business. All of us who have been in the business for any length of time have been through a number of lines that have told us that we're no longer needed. Sometimes it's for reasons that are beyond anyone's control, such as buyouts. Other times, a company may decide that they don't want (or need) territory reps. The third scenario involves replacement of a territory rep for reasons that are sometimes difficult to understand. These are the instances where production of sales can come into play, and sometimes those variations in sales are due to economic conditions or simply inconsistencies because of the time of year involved. Even though we all know that those things happen, it is still painful to lose a line. That's why we appreciate your expression of support. Thanks - Stuart
Thanks for the feedback on the article. Glad it seemed to resonate with you. I'm always open to hearing from the IR's point of views on some of the successes and struggles that are out there. Mike, if you'd ever like to do something on the independent direct rep, drop me a line.