If the internet is eliminating middlemen, why will reps still matter for brands?

I don't mean that in a bad way. I think this site is kind of cool, but if everyone is buying things on Amazon, do entrepreneurs need reps? Will brick&mortar still matter?

Please sign up to comment


The internet is eliminating middle men - not reps. Thinking that a rep is a middle-man is a misnomer. EVERYTHING in life rises and falls on relationships. Middle men move paper - manufacturer's reps move key people to action through solid, long-lasting relationships.

I have relationships with owners, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Divisional Merchandise Managers (DMM's) and more buyers than I can count in hundreds of different chains, .com retailers, international accounts etc. These people have known me for decades and trust my experience and advice.

How will the internet replace the years I've spent building relationships with these people? It can't. I know their kids names, where they went to school, what they like to eat and what they like to talk about. We've spent countless hours together at trade shows, in meeting rooms and in restaurants.

They know that I know products. If I call them and say "I have something for you" they know that I'm not wasting their time. Hundreds of people try to reach them everyday but they'll ignore them all and take my call. Why? I have a relationship with them that no internet service can replace.

Here's some stark truth for you - you could have a fantastic product and I could have one 80% as good and I have better chances at placement than you because of my relationships. Buyers go with who they know.

"Why will brick and mortar still matter" could be a novel but let me give you one very concise answer...because people like to touch and feel merchandise. People buy things for the way they make them feel and until we can feel through the internet then physical stores will be necessary. Shopping is an experience that many people enjoy - it isn't going away tomorrow. Certainly B&M is going to evolve but it will be there as long as humans have curiosity.

Wishing you success,

John T Clark

Excellent answer John!

Well said, John. I agree.


I agree with everything John Clark says. Moreover, as reps we reach out directly to the end users more than we ever have. Many of the traditional dealers have cut back field sales people leaving the decisions being made up to internet searches etc. It's our responsibility to personally reach out to the end users and help them provide solutions to their equipment and supply needs. We do this in conjunction with our established dealer base.

We call this "pulling the sale" through the channel. If done properly, it can grow sales, build relationships with end users and dealers. It also ads value to our firms.

Lastly, by getting out and talking to the end users we have the distinct advantage of knowing when projects develop months and sometimes years in advance before people start looking online to purchase products. Many of our factories allow us to file for spec credit on these projects regardless of where they purchase the equipment or supplies from.

Good Selling,

Andy Andrews
President & CEO Pro-Quip Foodservice Equipment and Supplies Inc.

Delightful insight John! Appreciate that!

Brian & Megan Dalrymple

Anchored Northwest

I agree with John Clark 100%. Relationship selling is the only way to develop long term selling opportunities with any company, brick and mortar or internet. People who purchase still need to know there is someone they trust on the other side of the sales process who will protect the integrity of the sales interaction. The experience of the agent is endowed within the product being sold.
The rest is covered by John Clark wonderfully.

John Neving

I agree 110% with John Clark's answer to you. The internet is excellent in telling the full story about a product so that the consumer can feel comfortable before purchasing it - whether through the internet or at a retail store.
Today, however, there are mostly temporary sales persons that are in brick & mortar stores .. As reps we are counted on to educate first the buyers to convince them to buy a product : then to work with these temporary sales floor persons to help them know about the products and motivate them to want to sell them .
We constantly create ideas for promotions and sales to stimulate business for buyers to move products because they trust us and have seen the results of our efforts over many years.
It is a relationship business that will continue into the future!
Jimmy Golding
Dynamic Marketing Inc.

I've only been a gift sales road rep for about eight years, but the b+m landscape has changed substantially since 2011. Today, I sell to about 60% of the accounts that I sold to in my first full year... but sell around 3X the dollar volume in a territory well-established by my predecessor. You do the math. ;-)

Great Comments Thank you for sharing!

We depend on reps to help open and maintain relationships with dealers, train their staff, help with not just sell in but sell through. All things that Amazon could never do.
Competing on Amazon is expensive and very time consuming. It also forces us to compete against ourselves and we won't own the store on Amazon, Amazon will. Many other reasons why Abound and reps are critical to our success.

Alder Family

Fuze Body

all great comments.

Daniel Summers

Les Crème

Welcome! We’re helping each other get products to market and sharing our stories.

Join us!