Developing New Markets and New Customers Using Professional Field Sales Reps

by Roger Ralston, Tri-State Components, Inc.

Should Your Business Enter New Markets?

The answer may be “Yes,” but pause to reflect before making that jump. If you are considering expansion, even targeting new territories or new customers, the odds are you’ve enjoyed some level of success in your current market. You know your market, know your customers, and know how to serve the market and those customers. On the one hand, entering a new market is less comfortable because you must prove yourself to a new customer base. On the other hand, you know your current products and services, administrative and distribution systems are in place, etc., so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Your goal is to determine ways to expand your operations into new markets.

One way customer expansion can be achieved is by taking your business online. It is relatively easy to market to new customers in the online environment; what is not easy is competing with all the other online businesses. The danger is that your business will be lost in the online clutter. Think about what customers’ needs are and how you can meet those needs better, faster and less expensively.

Before you expand:

  • Consider your current operations. Think about why you are successful, or are not as successful as you wish. What are the key factors? Can you leverage or adapt to those key factors while servicing a new customer base?
  • Consider the profile and demographics of targeted customers. How are they different than current customers? What are their needs? How can you meet those needs? How can you market and advertise to those customers?
  • Evaluate your competition. Who presently services those customers? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Decide how you will differentiate yourself and compete. Customers need reasons to switch; make sure you provide those reasons.

How does using manufacturers’ reps increase sales?

The major reason independent sales reps can increase sales is that they carry multiple lines. When more than one line is presented to the customer, sales can be made more effectively and at lower cost. The sale of one product can multiply sales of other products. With multiple lines, reps see more customers in their territory. The result is more sales and better market penetration.

Roger Ralston, a past MANA District Director, is president of Tri-State Components, Inc., Newnan, Georgia, a multi-person agency selling custom engineered components to OEMs since 1993. Roger joined MANA in 1994, was program manager for the Atlanta Chapter and became a member of the MANA Board of Directors in 2006. He has a degree in industrial management.