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The Benjamin Group
Many retailers gladly tell brands to post on buyer-targeted websites instead of allowing direct emails or calls, but this effectively serves as a “spam” filter for the retailer and it can be remarkably costly for brands. Even the greatest entrepreneur needs sales support, and we believe brands should secure that sales support before they engage with an account buyer. Engaging with a buyer before you understand the costs and challenges of big account distribution can be devastating. Smaller brands, in particular, need insights and a distribution expert to make sure they aren’t part of the 70% of brands that go out of business their first year in retail. Furthermore, big account buyers are inundated with emails, calls and even letters from thousands of brands each month, and they leverage key partners to filter through this noise. Successful reps become the prime filter for these buyers, and their sales skills help the buyers understand why your product will delight their loyal customers.
While our plan is not to bypass reps it is starting to happen this way. We are a young brand. Our wholesale business started a few years ago as a result of buyers finding us online where we are DTC. Last year I started the effort to establish a wholesale business and recruit reps including referrals from existing retailer relationships, all who found us online. Almost a year later we have zero reps but marketplaces recruiting us to join as a brand. Some of our existing relationships buy from us through marketplaces and we grew 120 new relationships in less than a year. The flow of inbound sales calls is starting to get shut down as buyers seem to go online for new stories to tell. We hear direct from buyers and tech companies building marketplaces, but no reps? I think it is starting to happen.
The why depends on whether the sale is a commodity purchase vs. one that could benefit from a tenured sales rep. Explaination of benefits and features, cost advantages for economy of scale purchasing, competitive advantages, support in case of an emergency, and a host of other need to know things - are what sales reps are for. Skip that and you might save a dollar you wish you had spent.
''...you might save a dollar you wish you had spent.''
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