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Apr 24

The Role of a Manufacturer Product Representative

SalesmanExtraordinaireI ran across this great article on the Long Island CSI chapter website regarding the role of a manufacturer product representative.

The author, Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, of Cincinnati, OH pays a nice tribute to those in my field.  I was pulled into the article when I read “we professionals need to take some time to speak of “those other folks”– the manufacturers’ and product representatives!”

Sometimes it seems us reps have a bad rap and are considered “those other folks”.  I will always remember a conversation I had with a DHI chapter member about revamping our local chapter before it dies out.  His response to me was that we would never be able to revamp the chapter as long as reps held the board positions.

That was the first time I experienced the “us” and “them” separation and can tell you my ego was a little bruised.  Having 21 years in the industry, with 17 of them being on the distribution side, I always felt like we were all in this together. I assure you that during the last five years as a rep my ego has toughened up significantly!

I love the industry and love what I do, so I was happy to read Ralph acknowledge things like “The product rep therefore, is looked upon not as a salesperson, but as a technical resource with depth of product knowledge far greater than the design professional.”

This industry, as much if not more than others, is very technical, complicated and ever changing.  Having a knowledgeable source to turn to with questions is invaluable.  I am always eager to learn things about the products I represent and share that knowledge to all those involved in the building process. I hope your product rep offers that to you.

Ralph did list several objectives that will enhance our relationship with design professionals, specification writers and our distributors.  I list them below, but urge you to click the link and enjoy the full article.

Be honest; even if your news or message is bad or adverse.

Be timely; respond when requested; try to make periodic calls for updates.

Don’t diss the competition; I want to know only about your product and what you can do!

Be helpful, if you can, by giving only what is asked and alternates that seem reasonable– don’t try to sell me everything.

Don’t know?– Please say so and find out—quickly!

Don’t ooze, be professional in all things from appearance to information offered.

Don’t placate or pander, state your case and understanding.

Don’t expect miracles from me– I must be a dispassionate professional in fairness to all.

Don’t send me “dumb” gifts to motivate or reward me–

Just appreciate my position and what WE need to accomplish TOGETHER!!!!

Do you have any more suggestions that may help strengthen our relationship?  I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!

Thank you Ralph for your tribute to product representatives!

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