A Salesperson’s Response to “The Toy Industry’s Graying Sales Force”

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


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4 thoughts

  1. I concur
    Our vendor contracts are all :30 days and a handshake” so there is no job security..
    In over twenty years as principal I have lost two lines because of poor performance. I deserved to be fired.
    However, the rest of the lines I lost were do to 100% politics; a new sales manger is hired who “likes” another sales group better. Sounds silly but it has happened on numerous occasions.

  2. I agree especially the part about the Vendors taking the Account away from you after years of building it up and making it a House Account !!!!!

  3. Agree with your response on many of your issues. But the bigger challenge, which I have watched unfold, is rep principles that do not change business models that can accommodate a younger sales rep who has that house payment, car payment and needs to be a big part of family income. Another arena they are blocked from is taking on the more digital part of business that could assist their bosses and store owners. I have watched several young reps enter our arena and then exit with pay being the biggest issue. Small territories are probably the most problematic. One thing I know – 4th quarter is going to be big, may our reps get their share!

  4. Almost correct, but there are a lot of reps who like to sell only easy-to-sell items. Not too many representatives are willing to learn products, to make efforts to sell. And if a product or a product line requires more explanations and details, the representatives run away from these products.

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