What Is a Manufacturers’ Representative?

What Is a Manufacturers’ Representative?

by Ken Benjamin

What is a manufacturers’ representative and what does a manufacturers’ representative do to make a living?

Many years ago I read an article on salesmanship and the respected author said something to the effect that among the elite of selling professionals are manufacturers’ representatives — selfemployed, independent businessmen and women who sell goods and services of several different companies that do not compete with one another, but in many cases are sold to the same customer.

These straight commission individuals are commonly called “reps.” They work strictly on a straight commission basis, and many times are established in some type of commodity or service specialty before they considered branching out on their own as sales reps.

A survey conducted by MANA, the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association, revealed that the owners of 1200 manufacturers’ representative sales agencies in the United States enjoyed a median gross income far in excess of the median for sales leaders in many other industries.

I know that kind of high income potential sounds exciting, but what does it really mean to someone like you, who is just now considering sales as a career and evaluating the possibility of becoming a manufacturers’ representative?

Forgetting the monetary aspects, let’s stop for a moment and review what this kind of sales representation is, and whether it is what you think it is.

In its basic form, a manufacturers’ representative is any individual who agrees to represent a company and sell their product or services on a straight percentage fee, which is automatically added to the selling price of their product or service. This is commonly known as straight commission selling.

You as the rep become an alternate to a salaried or direct employed salesperson and your income is based on a certain percentage of what you are successful in selling.

Next month, read about what is expected of a manufacturers’ representative.

This article is excerpted from Make Your Future Happen, Ken Benjamin’s definitive guide to starting an agency.

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