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How Commission Reps Helped to Rapidly Grow My Business

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Walter Hay

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My importing and B2B marketing business began its life in our farmhouse 1 ½ hours’ drive from a big city. I started the ball rolling by travelling to the outer suburbs and visiting schools where in face to face discussions with school principals I obtained orders for school badges, mostly bespoke badges with the school logo.

I also visited company executives and government agency officials who had responded to our direct mail.

Tiring of all that driving led me to find commission sales representatives to visit schools, colleges, government departments, clubs, and charities. I found them by using small advertisements in local newspapers. If using this approach today I would use Craigslist to find reps.

Local telephone numbers to suit the rep’s address were acquired and automatically diverted to Head Office on the farm. Family members who answered knew the source location and answered accordingly. At the time print Yellow Pages were still one of the major forms of business advertising, with extensive advertising in local Yellow Pages bringing in a lot of inquiries for the reps to follow up.

The arrangement I made was that we could use the rep's address to give the impression that we were local. We soon had what appeared to be branch offices across the country. Inquiries from callers were immediately passed on to the local rep, whose job was to follow up the leads. They notified HO of order details and when the orders were ready they were delivered direct unless the rep was willing to deliver personally. Personal delivery helped build and maintain a relationship with the customer.

I provided them with a quantity of samples to give away, together with a dazzling display board that fitted inside a briefcase. Showing that board contributed greatly towards achieving sales. They also learned how to use my "warm calling" process. For those who have not read about that in other posts, it involved going to the receptionist, handing over an envelope containing a business card, brochure, sample, and price list, and asking him/her to pass it on to the person responsible for buying such things.

Without trying to begin a conversation, they turned and walked out. Frequently the result was that their cell phone rang, even before they got back to their car, asking them to go back. Sales visits by invitation almost invariably result in sales.

Reps had a variety of backgrounds, but the majority were stay at home moms. We found them to be very good workers. Working only during school hours while their children were off their hands they generally managed to make more sales than the men, even those with a lot of sales experience.

All knew from the start that their territory would at some stage be offered for sale as a franchise territory. In effect, successful reps were building a customer base that made the sale of the territory franchise much easier than selling a Greenfield franchise, thereby putting themselves out of a job. A number of them chose to buy a franchise as soon as we announced that their territory was for sale. Some territories where the rep did not want to buy were sold but I am pleased to say that in most cases the new franchisee continued to employ them.

Walter
 

Private Witt

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Feb 20, 2018
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Amazing post thanks. I have a publication I want to reboot that will be in cannabis stores and a colleague who is very successful with a magazine told me my biggest mistake was not bringing on commissioned sales people. I love how you have it all nicely packaged up and just leave it at the receptionist desk.
 

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