Re-evaluating Your Rep Team

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Are you getting the most from your rep team? Do you have a full network of sales reps all over the country, but you believe you’re just not getting much out of them? Try some of these challenges on for size:

  • You keep hiring new reps, but you never seem to get anything out of them, making you wonder why they even signed up with you in the first place.
  • You used to have a great relationship with your reps, but now, not so much. They seem to only focus on a few accounts that they brought in years ago and you just cannot get them to go out there and find new business.
  • You can never get them on the phone.
  • You get a lot of quotes from them, but they are all from stuff you don’t want or cannot build.
  • It just seems that things are stagnating and you are not sure what to do.
  • You keep asking yourself, “What happened? Why can’t I get these guys engaged?”

Do these fit your company? If so, your next move might be to fire all your reps and start over. At least that’s what you’d like to do. But you hate the idea of starting over and losing all of that time, not to mention money, you have invested in your rep team.

You’re stuck and you feel that there is no way out.

Bu there is something you can do. You can talk to them. No, not argue with them, not whine at them, not kick them in the butt…I mean really talk to them. Find out what the problem is and start working with the reps to determine whether or not the relationship can be salvaged. It may be time to move on. Look, you have worked with them for this long; you can spend a few more days with them to see if the situation can be fixed or not.

Here is a list of questions you need to ask your reps. You can do this over the phone, but I must say it would be a lot better if you went out to their area and met with them face to face. There is nothing better for revitalizing relationships than face-to-face meetings.

  1. Do you want to keep representing my company? (That’s right. Cut to the chase; there is no point going on if they don’t want to work with you any longer. But if they say no, ask them why. You might not save that relationship but you could learn something valuable.)
  2. What do you think of our company?
  3.  Do you feel you are being treated fairly?
  4. Do you feel we are doing everything we can to support you?
  5. If not what could we do better?
  6. How about our products?
  7. How about our service?
  8. How do you feel about our technology?
  9. How do you feel about our pricing? Is it competitive?
  10. Do you feel like we are your partner?
  11. If there is anything we can do to improve our relationship, what would that be?
  12. Tell me about your firm. How are things going for you?
  13. Is your firm healthy?
  14. Is there anything we can do to help you be successful?
  15. How can we work more effectively in the future?
  16. Would you be willing to work with us to make plans to success?
  17. Would you be willing to give this relationship another try?
  18. What are your ideas about how we can proceed with such a plan?
  19. OK, are you ready to reset our partnership, carve out some new parameters, set some new goals, and get to work?

See, it’s not that difficult, and most of the time it will work, if the two of you really do communicate. This is key. With any kind of insight on your part (just the fact that you are interested enough to be asking these questions shows initiative on your part), you’ll be able to gain a lot of understanding from this conversation.

Now you have to look for the spark in your reps. If the reps are only semi-engaged in the conversation or if you believe they are only being polite, you should be able to figure that out. If, on the other hand, this conversation does what it’s supposed to do and re-sparks the flame of compatibility and a true new spirit of cooperation, you will have succeeded.

Now all you’ll have to do is follow through. Set up that plan. Hold regularly scheduled meetings with the rep. Visit his territory and your customers in that territory on a regular basis. In short, pay attention to your relationship, value your relationship and finally, always treat your rep with a great deal of respect and things will get better. I promise.

I once worked with a very wise man who had a clause like this in all of his rep contracts: If we reach an impasse, the two parties promise to have one last productive conversation to see if things can be worked out.

I always thought that was a great idea and, of course, it was only common sense.


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