From the HIRA Archives

Sell Thyself

There isn’t one among us that can't hold his own in a two-fisted selling competition with our lines yet we do a lousy job of selling ourselves. The advent of the Health Industry Representative Association has given us a recognizable stature out of the shadows and into a professional image heretofore not thought possible. Further, the Health Industry Manufacturers Association has recognized us as a viable part of the industry. Last year we discovered that we represented almost 40% of the firms connected with the health industry. The more we work together the more we discover about ourselves.

Now let's start selling ourselves to our principals by crying our virtues from the rooftops. There are six important and distinct things that we do for our manufacturer that no one and I mean no one else can do.

First, we can give him a predetermined fixed sales cost - Commission to sales. No one can promise this to anyone in this economy or any other. The manufacturer has a base from which he can determine his sales cost. These are in the form of a predetermined percentage set in advance. Preset and knowing the cost of sales upfront eliminates many variables in planning and price.

Second, we can give him immediate experience and feedback. Field experience and immediate feedback is obligatory in any sales-principle relationship. The successful manufacturer’s agent has both experience and sales and in general business administration thus shortening the cycle for success in creating and maintaining a business.

Third, we can give the principal immediate entry to the market. The average agency has been in business 16 years. Contact with the consumer has been established and immediate consideration can generally be facilitated by the agent in a routine manner. The length of time in getting a product into the market can be crucial in its success. The agency method of marketing reduces this risk to a minimum.

Fourth, the manufacturer's agent in most cases provides local sales management. In today's competitive economy management must be specific for the area involved. No company can manage a business in absentia. Frontline observation and experience are obligatory in the resolution of problems into making policy decisions. The agency in most cases is a resident business doing business in a region and managing this business in accordance with the needs of this region.

Fifth, qualified manufacturer representatives require a minimum amount of training time. The sales training period for the agent is minimal due to his broad experience in the field. The use of new personnel often requires extensive training both in product application and sales technique. This expense is reduced to a minimum when experienced sales organizations accept marketing responsibilities. Only training related to the product is required.

Sixth, the manufacturer's agent is motivated by monetary incentive. The incentive that motivates and directs the sales organizations is often the most important ingredient in stimulating and maintaining sales breadth and volume. Commissions are the most important bottom line to the salesmen's efforts. Prizes, plaques, awards, and praise are secondary. The agency method of marketing responds to earnings. This is an extremely important advantage that is inherent to the method.

The ideas that we have discussed here are not new to anyone. You are aware of what you have to offer yet you must have this information on the tip of your tongue and a concise sequence to sell the most important product – YOU!

I hope you memorize these six advantages, use them in not only selling your principle but in selling yourself on a great industry. (Prepared by founding member Lee Walters past president of HIRA.

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