Four Things Sales Reps Do With Good Intentions That Damage Your Brand
1. Create Their Own Sales Materials
Have you ever witnessed one of your reps pull out a folder and hand it to a customer and think, hold up, where did that come from? Or wondered why their presentation went off-brand?
Or worse yet, catch a glimpse of a trunk full of binders that haven’t been in front of a single specifier?
By creating their own collateral or simply disregarding the materials they have been given, a rep is actually trying to do their best to grow sales. Reps know what it takes to sell a product and they are extremely motivated to do so. The problem is, the marketing materials that have been created for them do not work.
Most of the time sales collateral has been created without the input of the most knowledgeable person, the rep. Effective sales programs should be designed to help specifiers have confidence in their choice. Reps know what specifiers are looking for and they would rather not give them information if the existing collateral is ineffective or misleading.
If sales reps are creating their own collateral or disregarding provided materials, that means your brand is in trouble. Reps may have the insight and the knowledge of what a customer wants, but they don’t have an agency to execute the materials on a professional level. Your brand is going to look cobbled together and homemade. This hodgepodge will erode any confidence a specifier may have had in their decision to choose your product.
2. Modify or Recreate Sample Kits
Should a sales rep spend their time in Target or Michaels looking for the right plastic bin or box to hold your samples? Unfortunately, a lot of them do.
Does your marketing package include the materials reps need for every touchpoint on the specification journey? If they need a box to drop off two or three samples in, do you provide them with one?
Most companies don’t. And therefore, most reps take the matter into their own hands. Samples are tough—clients want them and manufacturers must provide them. It can be expensive. Skimping on boxes, custom bags, or envelopes and letterhead may make sense in the short term, however, it forces sales reps to fill in with their own sample programs. In an industry that values order above all else, a haphazard box with a sticky note on it undermines a brand’s power. And price.
I watched a rep pull out a sample kit, remove a third of the pieces and place the remaining into a fabric-covered box from a craft store. A sticker was placed on the front of the box to identify the brand. The box was placed into the firm’s sample library. The rep felt that the finishes on some of the pieces looked cheap and off-brand so they removed those pieces. Not out of malice but out of a genuine concern that some of the products were too downmarket and obsolete.
Editing a product line shouldn’t be left to a sales rep. If there is something about a sample kit that puts specifications in jeopardy, you can bet they will do it.
3. Create Their Own Websites to Take Orders and Sample Requests
If your company won’t invest in a high-performing website, you can bet your reps will find a way to circumnavigate it. They will create one of their own to help close their sales. They will develop and nurture online relationships with your customers.
According to a Construction Industry Media Consumption Survey, search engines are the primary tool architects use to find out about new building products, materials and techniques.
It’s important that they form their online relationship with your branded site and not a patchwork site put together by a well-intentioned sales rep.
4. Hold Their Tongues
Most high-performing reps are doers not whiners. They are focused on achieving their sales goals and earning commissions.
Sales reps don’t provide feedback because most companies don’t ask. That’s a huge mistake not to solicit feedback from sales reps. Sales reps can tell you about upcoming trends and changing markets, as well as inform product design. Actively listening to sales reps is one of the most effective ways manufacturers can grow sales.
Making the Case for a Strong Collateral Investment
Sample libraries are getting smaller and more condensed. Part of the reason is that firms want to maximize their working space and minimize the amount of square footage that isn’t producing revenue. Contractors don’t want to carry around and keep track of a million samples in their truck. Manufacturers have their fingers crossed that digital will replace print.
Your company may have all of its hopes pinned on a new website with marketing automation, thought leadership and confidence-boosting expertise. And that is a great investment.
A strong digital plan can bring hundreds of new specifiers to your site and nurture thousands more each month. But, it’s not and nor will it ever be a substitute for print. Print is powerful—it’s tactile and it is needed to help sales reps close deals. There are points on the sales journey where specifiers need to hold something in their hands. And reps know it too. That’s why so many take producing collateral into their own hands to your brand’s detriment.
Want to grow your sales by increasing specifications by architects and designers? Click here to download our guide: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING SPECIFIED: HOW ARCHITECTS AND INTERIOR DESIGNERS SPECIFY ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS AND BUILDING MATERIALS. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or would like find out more about how Epiphany can help you get specified, give me a call: 804.377.0106.