Sometimes a rep has to do what a rep has do to.
Okay, so now it’s your turn. We have talked enough about making sure that you as a rep make yourself invaluable to your principal. We have gone on ad nausea about the various ways that reps disappoint the companies they represent. So now we are going to switch gears and put that proverbial shoe on the proverbial other foot and talk about when it’s time for you to check out; when it’s time for you to tell your principal that enough is enough and bade him a very pleasant adios amigo.
Sometimes you can pick these things up when you are going through the interview “getting to know you” phase of the relationship. If this is the case. If at any time in the initial stages of the relationship you even come within smelling distance of any of these problems, then get out, do not sign on the line that is dotted, just go away before anything becomes formal.
But as sometimes happens everything is great at the beginning of the relationship but begins to sour along the way don’t be afraid to call it a day.
Here are seven indications that the relationship with your principal is going bad and that you should get out before it gets rotten.
- No communications: When the principal, despite your best efforts stops communicating with you it’s time to start wondering what’s going on. This is especially true if at one time you had a great relationship with her. Try to find out what’s going on. Be suspicious, there must have been some sort of change at the company. Try to find out if you did something to offend the principal or if there is just something you don’t know about and should.
- Poor service: this is the worst of all things a principal can do to hurt you. When you start seeing Quality issues, late deliveries and worst of all a sort of malaise sets in where the principal really doesn’t seem to care that you are out there dodging bullets while he is back in his shop doing nothing about it, it’s time to start thinking about buying your exit ticket because often especially if the principal will not even listen to you when you try to tell her that things are going to hell in a handbasket, it’s time to exit stage left. Look you are supposed to be spending your time selling not apologizing. Do not hang around with a vendor who is not performing, it’s not worth your time an effort and it’s certainly not worth risking your good name, your reputation by hanging around with a loser.
- Losing customers: related to item two, when you start losing customers get out. If you are a multi-line rep, you cannot afford to lose a customer when you are selling other technologies of the same product to those customers. Get out and get out fast.
- Know when to fold them: This is a tricky one. Often reps are held hostage because they brought in a big account and are now in danger of losing a commission stream if they leave too soon. There isn’t much you can do about this. When you find yourself in this situation you obviously don’t have the latitude to leave right away if you ever want to see those commissions so all you can do is lay low, do the best you can and quietly make arrangements to leave. If this is a multi-year contract, then try to make the best of a bad thing. This is the one time you can try to reason with the principal. Try to help him get better. Point out to him that he stands to lose the big account you brought in if he doesn’t fix his company. If he listens to you and starts trying to make things better fine. If not, then start finding another company wo can take over your large account because eventually that poor performance is going to affect that account as well and you will lose it. Protect your reputation at all costs. This is not a good time to go down with the ship.
- You are being phased out: you can tell when this is happening, you’ll feel a sudden chill in the air. Your contact at the principal will no longer be that nice. You start hearing a lot of “what have you done for me lately”. If these things start to occur and you know you have been doing a good job then start looking for a rat to match with that smell because here is what is happening; either the principal has a new accountant who is pointing out that you are making “too much money”, or they have figured out that one of the customers you brought in is growing like crazy and they want you out of the picture before they start paying you a “small fortune”. Whether you like it or not you are going to be let go contract terminated a victim of your own success. First, remember this scenario when signing a contract because this is why you need to find for a longer termination clause. The second thing you can do is go to the owner of the company and negotiate a fair termination that will give you some kind of parting gift or if all else fails call your lawyer. Sorry there is no good and satisfying end to this situation, this is why you need to choose your principals carefully…very carefully
- You’re in shackles: the principal thinks that his company can do everything, every technology, every service every kind of printed circuit boards that money can buy (and he cannot) so that he will not let you have any other lines. Do not ever sign a contract that dictates that you cannot have any other lines of similar but non-competing products, you have to have the latitude to have other non-competing lines that offer different technologies services. Or if you already are in an agreement with a company and they invest in a new technology and now they want you to dump your other line in the same technology, don’t do it. That’s why you have a contract. You should stick to your guns and say you already have someone building that new technology and you are not going to change.
- Non-Payment: when the commission checks stop coming be careful. Call the company immediately and find out what is going on. If you get a reasonable answer from the people you have had a long-time relationship with then maybe you can cut them some slack for s little while. But if you get the sense that the ship is sinking then get out, cut your loses you are now officially working for nothing and you cannot afford to do that. Remember you are an unsecured creditor and if that companies goes under you will get next to nothing if anything at all.
- And yes, one more always under promise and over deliver; most of these issues can be resolved if you have maintained a close relationship with your principals. Try to keep close to the owner. Make sure you have a great working relationship at all times. One more bit of advice you might consider adding a single clause to the contract that demands that before any termination by either part occurs both parties must meet face to face and have a discussion about the issues on the table. I had a contact like this once and it really worked. We sat down, had a talk, and resolved our differences.
Like everything else if you maintain a good working relationship with your principals, if you stay in touch with them, if your talk frequently these kinds of situations are much less likely to occur. Its only common sense.