What is a manufacturer’s representative?
They are a relatively small, but crucial part of the distribution chain between contractors, customers, manufacturers and wholesalers. They are also little understood, and common myths surround their function and their roles.
Mike Dungan, Sales Engineers, Eden Prairie, Minn., points out that “manufacturers reps are not an additional channel, nor are they middlemen.” In a talk at the Manufacturer’s Rep Council at NHRAW’s annual convention in December, Dungan pointed out their role in smoothing the distribution process and adding value, rather than adding to the cost of the product. They are generally paid on commission only.
Manufacturers benefit by acquiring broader market penetration than they could acquire on their own. The manufacturer’s rep is looking out for the manufacturer’s interests. A manufacturer’s rep is trained in that area of expertise and works closely with the customer and/or end user.
Most manufacturer’s reps represent more than one manufacturer, so they are able to call on customers that may be deemed too small to be profitable for a single seller. In fact, a typical manufacturer’s rep handles 12 to 14 lines of equipment. They are experts on the products they represent, and continued training and education is an important part of their job descriptions. They tend to be more problem-solvers than order-takers. Unlike distributors, they don’t focus only on the products that are already on the shelf, and don’t have to handle several hundred products at once?