Last week in the first column of this four part series we discussed how the rep/principal relationship is no longer as productive as it once was. We discussed the disconnect between what the reps want out of the relationship and what the reps want from it.
And we discussed how this relationship has to not only be examined and re-examined but overhauled as well.
During the next two week we will focus on what each of them want from the other, starting with this one which focuses on what the principals want from their reps, and what their expectations are when they work with a rep.
Then the following week we’ll focus on the reps’ point of view and what they want from the relationship. And finally in week four of this series we will reveal our take on how the relationship should look moving forward.
What the Principals want from their reps. Principals want the reps:
- To bring them all the business they need in a very short time.
- To be a less expensive alternative to direct salespeople who cost in the low six figures when you include travel expenses, cars benefits, entertainment and commissions. From this point of view, reps make a lot of sense.
- To act like they are part of the company, and be as dedicated to the company as their direct employees are.
- To bring them customers sooner rather than later.
- To get them the right kind of business.
- To know what the right kind of business is.
- To do a lot of prospecting for them.
- To act as if they are the only principal they have.
- To be available whenever they call a meeting.
- To include their company on their line cards.
- To highlight them on their web sites.
- To set up a week or ride along calls anytime the Principal wants to go visit them.
- To market the Principal’s company.
- To be willing to cut commissions whenever they are asked.
- To have very short termination clauses
- To be willing to allow other reps in their territory.
- To agree to split commissions when the Principal feels it is the right thing to do.
- To never complain even if they are really screwing up.
- To successfully sell no matter what. Thinking that “a good salesperson is one who can get the order even if the company is late on all their orders to that customer.”
- To share in the pain and understanding if the Principal’s company – through no fault of the rep – is going under.
- To consider herself lucky to be representing such a fine company as theirs.
- To feel it is a privilege to sell for the company.
- To be willing to leave without repercussions when the Principal doesn’t want them around anymore.
- To be willing to be the last to get paid when money is tight.
- To be willing to credit commissions when – through no fault of their own – the product fails and is returned to the principal.
- To be willing to work non-exclusive contracts.
- To be the last to be paid and only thirty days after the principals gets paid.
- To be willing to wait up to ten months before they see a red cent for all of their efforts.
- To be willing to share their territory with a new rep who shows up convincing the principal that he can do a better job.
- To go to trade shows and tend the booth on her own dime.
- To attend sales meetings at his own expense.
- To take a cut in commissions if their account gets so big that they are making too much money.
- To lose all equity in a large account because the principal is going to make it a house account.
- To take a cut in commissions because now that the account is mature the inside salespeople are handling it and don’t feel that the rep is doing anything anymore.
- Who are willing to start chasing a completely new set of customers once the principal has added a new technology.
- Who is willing to work on a descending sliding scale because he has grown the account to a very large size.
- Who do not get upset for not getting copies of the quotes.
- Who do not get upset for being excluded in negotiations with their customers.
- Who are willing to let the inside salespeople take over their accounts while they are sent out to get new accounts.
- Who will not add complementary Principals even though they are truly non competing accounts.
Well, that’s only forty things that companies want from their reps. This is not just my opinion, this is exactly the kind of expectations I have seen during my forty plus years of working with both principals and their reps.
There is not one single expectation here that I have not witnessed many times.
But wait, if you think this is a list of very tough and unreasonable expectations, wait until next week when we list what the reps expect from their principals. Until then…it’s only common sense.