Bring In Company Reps to Help Drive Sales

Big sales events drive business. Consider bringing in manufacturer reps and pro-staffers for your next event.

Bring In Company Reps to Help Drive Sales

Large, colorful demo trucks can add excitement to your events and attract customers. Check with your sales reps about their possibilities for these or other options to help with your store demo days. 

Selling can be a sometimes-challenging chore. Not only are there challenges in what to sell, when to sell it and how to sell it, but shopping customers can vary greatly in what motivates them to look and buy, and in what item(s) or services serve their needs. It’s a proven sales strategy to use events to stimulate customer interests — and wallet-opening actions. Need help in creating that next sales event? Is it time to call in the reps?

Manufacturers and distributor representatives, and pro-staffers, can bring excitement to your store or range. Along with exciting displays, possible great buys on discontinued items direct from the warehouse, and maybe the opportunities to be among the first to try new firearms, many reps can offer packages and programs for you and your customers. It’s a win-win-win when the reps arrive. You win with customers and your reps, and you and those customers win at the cash register. Your options to spur sales when reps are onsite are nearly limitless. 

Reps Come Calling

To use reps effectively, big events seem to work the best. You also need to plan ahead, make inventory decisions and then advertise and promote. A top move is to pull out all the stops in letting customers know a factory or distributor representative is coming. The good news is that many companies also offer co-op advertising dollars for such promotions and this increases your options. The better news is that many reps can also bring on the bling — and draw attention to your shop or range — which brings more customers calling.

Along with tabletop displays, possible coupons for a percentage off on purchases, or items such as free hats and one-of-a-kind gear and other items to help you make sales and increase your customer base, some companies and their reps can bring in the big guns. An example is the eye-catching Beretta experience trailer that arrives complete with extensive clothing and firearms accessories. Folks are drawn to it. Other bling that arrives with reps are posters, tents and wildly flapping banners that can draw attention — and customers.

Marketing groups representing firearms and accessory companies can also bring logoed tractor trailer rigs or trucks. While these rigs do take up parking space, they are also 40-foot or longer billboards that call customers to your front door. To catch attention and lure shoppers, some representatives have other items and huge displays that can also build shopper excitement. This stimulation works well to set the buying mood and product enthusiasm. Be certain the times, spaces, floor plan layout and other key details are planned and organized before the rep(s) arrive. Last minute scrambles can lead to a slew of problems and dampen the results. 

Big Events Wow Customers

A basic marketing practice is to create a big event and have the representatives on hand to help build the special event and increase customer outreach. For some successful events, those events become annual affairs. A top example is Murdoch’s field day held in central Montana at an outdoor gun range. Numerous reps are there to help customers try — and buy — firearms in this growing field day program. Flags and banners provided and erected by the reps on site help call attention to brands, products and services. In a near-carnival atmosphere, customers mill about to try and see products. This event is headed to its fifth year.

“Next year (2019) will be our fifth event, and we began planning for it in October, securing the date and assembling the basic information,” reports Steve Potratz, Training Manager for Murdoch’s Ranch and Farm Supply. “We average about 1,000 customers at the one-day event.” This type of event utilizes a top selling strategy — getting the customer to put the product in their hands. The many on-site reps at the annual event help with answering questions and other details.

Across America in Alabama, Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham offers a special deer hunting season opener sale, plus other mega sales events at other times of the year. Customers learn the details early via emails. Reps from many companies are often on site. Blackstone Shooting Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, is another retailer that uses the benefits of calling in the reps. This multi-range retailer recently held a S&W event with exclusive times for their members only to visit with on-site reps — and other special times for the general public customer to visit with the reps.

Finding a representative is often as easy as going up the channels that supply your store or range. Wholesalers can sometimes set up a connection, or major manufacturers such as Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Mossy Oak have reps or pro-staffers who can help you draw attention to your location or the event. Again, to get on their schedule, plan far ahead. If you have a pro-staffer or sponsored shooters, such as the ones Browning and other companies field, their brand-centered demonstrations can also excite customers and build interest. The options are often many and limited only by time and space. 

Rely on the Rep’s Experience

The best events that utilize reps, pro-staffers and other company or brand spokespersons schedule their travels and appearances well ahead — sometimes years ahead. As you reach out and determine times to get on the reps’ calendars, remember to also focus on your customers. While some reps may be crowd pleasing trick shots, others may provide product testing and shooting, and some reps only display current products and stop there. Remember also that just telling customers what’s new is helpful, but choosing the correct timing for the event and the rep appearance is also important. It’s difficult to sell a flashlight in May when the days become longer and nights are shorter.

Many retailers have learned to rely on the rep to help plan the day or event. They can impart knowledge of what other retailers have tried, and what works – or does not work — well. Work with the rep and your store staff to make plans on who will do what, and where they will do it. Some rep displays are huge and are best utilized in the parking lot, so get the requirements before the day of the event or sale. When working with reps, you will also need to determine your budget and then weigh the expected costs against income.

The most successful events, and best use of your time and your work with any rep, begins with three easy to follow steps: Promote, promote and promote. Pull out all the stops in calling attention through your website and social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, through advertising and notices around your shop and possibly in local newspapers, radio and TV channels. Another effective promotional channel is a printed flyer placed in the bags of customer. This tactic works with word of mouth that can be an effective advertising strategy that costs nearly nothing to execute.  If you want to build the excitement, don’t overlook those co-op advertising dollars. More may be available if a rep or pro-staffer will be onsite. Another market outreach channel is billboards, and those can work effectively if you want to draw regional shoppers.

Take Stock Before Engaging

Before you call in the reps and plan an event, pause and take inventory of the available space inside and outside your store or on the range. If your parking lot becomes the location for huge tents and tables, this can displace customers. Is there parking space in the area that will work, and will you need signs to direct customers there? Next, what about manpower? Do you need to hire more sales staff or folks to fill other roles and responsibilities? As you can see, special events need attention to detail to be successful and to help you serve your customers.

Before you agree or sign any contract with reps, ask questions and get all the details. Be certain you know what they need, such as an electrical outlet, so they can set up any display. In the fine details you may also be responsible for lodging or other needs, and you may be required to stock so many types of items or have a certain display on site during the event or when reps are on site. Every rep group does things differently, and nearly all require something in exchange for their time and appearance. The good news is most reps want to make a good impression with your customers, and your success is their success.

Like anything in business, you should also set a goal for the event. The top events focused on education have several seminars and hands-on experiences plus provide customers with opportunities to see and shoot new firearms and try gear. Remember to calculate costs, including employee overtime or postage if sales flyers are mailed, and how many of what units at what prices will you sell as you seek to generate income and a profit.

It is important to note some of the most successful events and sales that have reps and company or manufacturer staff on site are annual programs, such as the one at Murdoch’s. You can also advertise next year’s event during this year’s event. Some stores and reps make events more profitable and customer-centered by inviting VIP customers to a show, quaint gathering or special assembly the night before the event begins.

Mega events with manufacturers’ representatives on site can be a winning strategy for you and your customers. Is it time to call in the reps?


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