REPRESENT!

Today’s tale is about the Sales Rep. As in every industry, the Sales Rep many times, is the unsung hero of the industry they represent. At our shop, I deal with over 10 different companies and their Reps and as in every industry, you get the good and the great. I am quite fortunate that I deal mostly with the latter. The great ones are the reason for today’s tale. I am here today to be the voice of the great ones.

A little back story for those of you who may not realize exactly what the job of a Sales Rep. entails. You are driving, all day long, in rush hour traffic. Like our postal carrier friend’s, come rain, come sleet, come snow, you are out there, driving the roadways and walking the walkways. Most Sales Reps are on straight commission = they don’t sell, they don’t make money. Some companies offer a gas allowance and a cellphone allowance, some do not (yeah, let that sink in for a moment). Sales Reps are given quotas, usually based on their previous years sales. (Sometimes based on the sales of someone else). Sales Reps have to work all the hair shows, they must go to every training session and class, and since most are on commission, you guessed it, usually with no pay. The great ones ( I stress the great ones) do this because they love their job and want to do right by their clients.

As in every industry, you get the not so great Sales Reps, or the good ones, the “order takers” as my dear ol’ Dad calls them. (quite a fitting accolade actually – all they do is show up and ask what I want, I swear I have heard a few of ’em utter “ya want fries with that?”). You know the ones – don’t call, don’t keep their appointments, don’t tell you of the new products – you have to ask, don’t follow up with orders. The most unfortunate thing about these Reps is that the great ones pay the price. Not all, but unfortunately most companies paint all their Reps with the same brush and the great ones end up being punished along with the order takers. Yeah, I said it. All of a sudden new procedures or limitations are created and are placed on the Reps without a true explanation of why and they are supposed to enforce the new rules (without question) with their existing clients/Salons. By the way, it is not the Sales Rep’s fault that a company has “order takers”. The fault, my dear, lies with management. Yeah, I said it. With proper training, you can raise someone up to their true potential, or weed out the ones that really don’t have it in them – another tale for another time.

What the higher ups need to remember is this. Sales and sales relationships are not built on who has the flashiest smile or who has the best parlor trick (the 50’s are over) – these relationships are built on trust. Salon owners and stylists, like all customers, want the truth, the real deal, they need to know the bottom line. How is a Sales Rep supposed to tell a Salon owner where the bottom line is when head office keeps moving it because of “order taker Arnold”. How is a Sales Rep supposed to project trust in a company that they themselves can’t trust?  Business is business. All employee’s, from the cashier at your local grocery store to the Sales Rep who is busting their butt and their car’s mileage to represent the company that employ’s them, need to know that management has their back. All employee’s need to know they have support from management. No one likes to feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them. It’s time for management to get out from behind the desk and get back out on the road, and be sure to bring gas money.

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