West Chester, Pa. — Azione Unlimited, the educational/buying group for custom retailers and integrators, has developed a collection of best practices to help strengthen relationships between manufacturers’ reps and dealers.
The protocols were compiled by member dealers and vendors during a session at the group’s fall conference last month. While most members agreed that reps are vital to the success of retailers and the industry as a whole, many dealers said the rep model could stand some adjustments to help both partners be even more successful.
According to an Azione dealer survey, the 10 top responsibilities of reps, in order of importance, are:
1. Follow up on orders/backorders/shipments.
2. Train staff on products.
3. Respond to questions within 24 hours.
4. Pass on leads.
5. Relay sales programs.
6. Follow up on credits.
7. Handle returns.
8. Take orders.
9. Spend time with the sales team.
10. Share industry trends.
Azione members further suggested a host of procedures that reps should follow when conducting face-to-face meetings with dealers. Among the suggestions:
• Prepare an agenda for the meeting one week prior to visit. Email it to meeting attendees for their input, additions, corrections and approval.
• Make an appointment at least two weeks in advance.
• Provide a list of attendees (include their title).
• Advise dealers at least two days in advance of any special requirements needed for the meeting (projectors, screens, power, cables, etc.).
“We love reps and have deep histories with many of these great people and companies,” said Azione president/chief creative officer Richard Glikes. “Manufacturers have limited knowledge of individual markets and the personality dynamics that exist. In my career as the vice president of retailer Bryn Mawr Stereo, good reps made huge contributions to the success, profitability, and growth of the company.”
Azione member Sondralee Orengia of Custom Audio noted that reps “are the ones in the field, they have their finger on the pulse of the industry,” while Mike Benedetto of Salamander added, “The rep model in principal is good, but it is broken and they need to fix it.”