Frequently Asked Questions

A Manufacturers’ Representative, or “rep agent”, is simply someone hired by a manufacturer, or “supplier”, to provide sales, marketing, and/or consulting services. Rep agents could be local, regional, national, or global and could handle these responsibilities for a wide variety of suppliers to distributors and customers; however, most rep agents are local or regional and provide specific services to a handful of non-competing suppliers.

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Rep agents have been influencing the Co-Op Retail Channel for decades and are known to have long-standing, strong relationships with manufacturers, distributors, and customers. While the momentum of the typical sales force of manufacturers and distributors is strained by high turnover, rep agents create stability for customers because of their perspective, longevity, and product knowledge in the industry. In short, rep agents possess the tools needed to uncover many business solutions effectively and efficiently for manufacturers, distributors, and customers.

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Manufacturers typically need rep agents to penetrate a market in which they are unable to effectively or efficiently penetrate themselves. Because a rep agent has pre-established relationships, bringing in another product line to discuss with a distributor or customer takes minimal effort for a rep agent; however, a supplier may struggle to even secure an introductory meeting with that same distributor or customer.

Additionally, each distribution channel has supply chain nuances that new suppliers must adapt to before product can be made available to customers – rep agents can step in and help suppliers build distributor relationships and help navigate the various distribution complexities to ensure speed to revenue.

Lastly, most rep agents are paid on commission only when a product is purchased. This makes rep agents a “fixed cost” to the manufacturer regardless of the volume of product being sold. Rather than a supplier paying for the salary, insurance, travel expenses, etc… of an in house sales team, the supplier assumes virtually no financial risk as the rep agent makes the investment of time, travel, and resources while the supplier can continue pursuing other business opportunities.

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It may be time to hire a rep agent if you are a supplier and you:

  • Struggle to find time to reach new customers
  • Employ an expensive sales force that cuts into profit margins
  • Have complex products and find it hard to maintain an educated sales force
  • Pay large travel expenses for distributor meetings, events, and customer visits
  • Find it difficult to gain meetings with desired distributors
  • Experience a distributor favoring a primary competitor
  • Are not located near a desired distributor
  • Have a limited sales force to attend various distributors meetings and events
  • Need assistance navigating the many distributor requirements
  • Need a fresh perspective on solutions within the marketplace
  • Want to save time and money!
  • Want your brand to grow!

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Hiring a rep agent can be an easy Win-Win-Win for everyone involved.
When a rep agent is involved, the manufacturer benefits by efficiently, effectively, and profitably reaching more customers through more distributors while spending less money, spending less time, and using less resources.

When a rep agent is involved, the distributor benefits by seeing suppliers quickly adapt to their operational needs as well as by enjoying a one stop shop for many different product questions, support needs, and solutions for the customer. This ultimately leads to speed-to-revenue.

When a rep agent is involved, the customer benefits by having an experienced and committed advocate bring multiple solutions in one sitting, provide strategy and perspective about the marketplace, and provide long-term relationship stability in a high turnover industry.

Contact the CMI Team to find out how you can be completely connected in the B2B MRO Marketplace from start to finish and everything in between!