Christmas is over. The dust has settled. The inventory is counted. The phones are ringing. Sales Reps are invading, loaded down with 2013 catalogs, samples, and stories.
Some of us dread this. Some of us look upon our sales reps as a whole different breed of creature designed to suck the life out of us (not to mention every penny). Every page of every catalog needs your full attention. Every product is a home run. Every product is a destined best-seller. Every product should be bought deeper, every company bought wider. There is so much hype, you need to wear waders just to get out of the office.
Ugh! When will this plague end?
It ends when you get better. It ends when you realize that your sales reps are people, too. In fact, they are more than just people, they are YOUR employees. They work for YOU. They help you fill your store with products that make you money. They help you find hidden gems and stay clear of sure-fire dogs. They help you keep your look, your philosophy, your reputation intact. They make money for you and you don't even have to pay them.
What? You say your reps don't do this? That is because you haven't trained them.
Yes, you need to train your sales reps. You need to train them just as you would any other employee. Teach them your core values, your philosophy. Teach them what products you want or don't want. Teach them how you want to receive information, what information you want, and when you want it. Teach them how you place orders, when you place orders, why you place orders. Teach them how you handle mis-ships, defects, back orders. Teach them what you expect from them and you will be surprised how much better they will become.
Your reps take you out to lunch to try to buy your favor and buy an order. Have you ever taken your rep out to lunch to thank them for the job they do for you?
Your reps send you gifts to thank you for your orders and the commissions they have received. Have you ever sent your rep a gift for helping you find the products that made you money?
Treat your reps as good or better than your employees and they will work incredibly hard for your business.
Your reps will get better the moment you do.
PS I was at a conference years ago when one session turned into a bitch-session about reps. I watched with amusement because for the most part, my reps are wonderful. Treat them well and you will see a huge improvement.