This week I received a response from a salesperson to my article, “The Toy Industry’s Graying Sales Force; it’s a problem.” Salespeople are an essential element in how products make their way to market so I pay a lot of attention when they speak. Although the author wished to remain anonymous, I felt we as an industry would benefit from learning how independent sales representatives see the current state of the profession. Here is the letter I received:
It’s not getting any better, and you are 100% correct that there are no young people joining the sales force to promote and, hell, yes, sell toys
What is the reason?
Off the top of my head, I can list 7 or 8 reasons, all of which have to do with the fact that today’s youth do not want to do the traveling involved, spend the time and the effort needed to become successful
It’s not easy being a rep; we don’t get a weekly salary,
We pay our own health insurance
We pay all of our own expenses
We don’t get paid for our efforts until our customers pay our vendors, and we wait for our payments, in some instances “begging” the vendors to pay us.
There is no longer any instant gratification or reinforcement for our efforts. You don’t walk out of an appointment with an order any longer
We are treated terribly by our vendors. If we don’t perform, we get replaced. If we over perform we get replaced by house people
We can no longer afford to be paid the industry standard of 5%, and the vendor community is unwilling to even entertain an increase in commission rates
The vendor community, in many instances, doesn’t appreciate the work we do for them, and when they do, the vendor feels we are taking the customer’s side
We are blamed for mishaps, whether its vendor created, customer-created, or in some circumstances rep created.
The amount of paperwork that we need to do now to get items listed is becoming tedious, and if our vendors do not agree to fill out the forms, then any errors on the paperwork are, of course, the rep’s fault. My company will not represent any vendor that is not willing to do the paperwork and set up work needed.
Shipping problems are, of course, blamed on the rep.
The constant change in buyers makes it almost impossible to garner a relationship with the buyer; We are constantly working with new buyers