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Finding additional help for free

You have too much to accomplish. There aren’t enough hours in the day, your team is far beyond working at maximum capacity and you need to find that exact right product that will fulfill your latest needs. You don’t know where to start, and you certainly don’t have the time to embark on a proper project to research and find the right product to meet your needs.

instead of buying the first product that comes along, do you ever wish you had someone who would be there to help you not only find the product but get it for you at a great price, be able to beat up some of the suppliers when they are late, and is willing to do that research for you?

The fact is you do have this person, and your just not utilizing them to their fullest capability

Sales reps can do more then just sell you stuff
Any sales guy that calls you can be a wealth of untapped knowledge for your organization. Even if you are not lucky or large enough organization to be a named account with an inside and outside rep, there is a great chance your not leveraging your reps to their fullest potential.

For example, the company I work for needs to find a Mobile Device Management strategy and product, versus spending the time effort and vast amount of resources needed for taking this initative on completely internally, we are leveraging one of our main vendors with whom we buy all sorts of stuff, like computers, printers and software licenses. Since they sell about a dozen competing products, and we already work with them, who better to help us narrow down the choices to perform an in depth look at?

Get to know your sales rep
Sales reps come in many different flavors but it comes down to a few simple key items, what type of company do they work for, and what is their actual job. With this information you have a better idea how best to utilize them.

Manufacturing rep
For dealing with the direct product rep, the methods are the same, but the product selection part is not as diverse, they want to sell you their products, and if your relationship is strong they will let you know if it is a sales pitch they are supposed to make, or a product they think you will actually use. These reps are huge for product roadmaps, loaner equipment, knowing what works well with their solutions, and most importantly can help get your orders escalated if it is a custom build or on back order

Resellers rep
They offer lots of products form many different manufactures. They are very useful for finding out about all sorts of information your manufacture rep can’t tell you, While fighting to give you the best price, they will give an honest assessment against all of their products. They will also let you know if your manufacture rep is good or not.

Types of reps

There are three main different tpyes of reps, inside reps and outside reps and sales engineers. Knowing the differnece is a key to success, especially when you need to get them to perform work for you.

Outside rep, is the guy who calls you and comes to your office to meet you. They have the tough job of convincing you to buy their products. This rep is the manager of your account so no matter what rep you normally use if you have a problem with any of them talk to this rep.

Inside rep Is always at their desk, although works with many customers. Gernally I go against convention and work directly with the inside rep because they are available. Not that the outside rep doesn’t get back to me, they are always prompt and polite, the inside rep is the one they go to to get stuff done, so I choose to skip a step. OFrtunatly I am always super nice to them so I haven’t had anyone complain about it yet.

Sales engineer
They are the to get you from wanting to buy to proof of concept, or have specialized knowledge you will need to leverage at times. Since they have a technical background and are brought into meetings to help answer the harder questions they are key people to get to know and become friendly with.

In the end, it is about trust
You are right to worried that they will pick the one with the greatest markup, but to me that is outwieghed by thier need to keep the relationship. Much like the waitress who tells you which entree to avoid, in an effort to build trust and get you back in the door. If a company wants to sell me an inferiour product because they will make more money, it is not a company I want to work with.

How to utilize your rep to the fullest potential
Utilizing your reps to their fullest potential isn’t as hard as it sounds.

* Be honest, tell them your issues. If they know your struggles they can offer suggestions and may have seen the problem already
* Tell them about the direction you see your company going
* How would they solve your current problem?
* Ask what they are seeing with other companies, and within the industry
* Find out what new products interest them, even if they don’t sell them
* Where did they used to work?
* I have asked product reps who moved into a non competing industry what they thought of their old companies product. So you used to sell computers, and now sell software. If I am thinking about switching brands of PCs, you better believe I want to ask someone who used to work there, what it is really like on the inside.

Build the relationship, reap the benefits of it over time
No matter which rep you generally talk to, get to know them. Find out what they like, be nice to them. You don’t have to be their best friend, but if you are friendly with them they are going to go the extra mile for you. If your mean to someone and I am super friendly who are htey going to want to help out more: The guy who will yell no matter what or the guy who they enjoy talking to and is a friend?

How has your interactions with product reps gone?

Cheers,
Kraig.

With over 15 years in the IT industry, Kraig has completed most every job there is in the field, with this diverse background it has helped Kraig become a manager who better understands the needs of his employees. If you want to learn more about IT Management, please read his blog IT Manager HQ.

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