When you outsource your sales to an industrial manufacturers’ representative (IMR), you want to know you’ll see a good return on your investment. Working with an IMR is a great way to leverage their reach and existing relationships in order to get your products into new markets, increase your sales, and expand your territory.

It’s also the case that you probably aren’t your IMR’s only client. They likely work with other manufacturers as well, and this might have you wondering what you can do to make sure you and your products remain a high priority for your IMR.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help ensure that result. Like any good relationship, what you get out depends in part on what you put in. Here are some guidelines to help you get more of your IMR’s time and attention.

Tactics to Keep Your IMR Focused on Your Products

Once you’ve established the baseline for a good relationship with your IMR, you can take a more tactical approach to getting more focus put on your products. Here are a few of the specific measures you can take to help keep their attention right where you want it:

  • Build the relationship between you and your and IMR
    You want to make sure there’s no friction between you and your IMR. Take steps like including your IMR in sales meetings, maintain regular contact, create plans of action together, and follow up regularly to make adjustments as need.
  • Provide product and sales training
    You know your products better than anyone else, and you know what makes them stand out. But if you’re not sharing this information with your IMR, you’re putting them at a disadvantage when it comes time to sell. Be sure your onboarding process includes extensive product and sales training to equip your IMR with everything they need to know about what you make.
  • Make doing business easy—and rewarding
    “If you want your IMR’s time and attention, then you want to be easy to work with,” Turpin said. “Make sure your relationship is a true partnership, one in which you’re helping to remove obstacles so your IMR can sell more easily.” And when they do close the deal? Reward them with an incentive program that offers commissions and other financial opportunities.
  • Create sales goals together
    A well-crafted goal gives your sales team a target and motivates them to act. But unrealistic or fuzzy goals can have the exact opposite effect. By including your IMR in the process, you can ensure that you set the right goals for sales and success.

To Keep Your IMR’s Attention, Avoid These Mistakes

So far we’ve focused on what you should do to get more of your IMR’s time and attention. But on the other side of that coin are the mistakes manufacturers make that can strain the relationship and cause IMRs to spend less effort selling your products. Here are a few of the most common.

  • Offering your IMR a poor sales strategy plan — or none at all
    Your IMR relies on you to set (and share) your sales strategy. If you can’t provide this information, your IMR will give more of their focus to their manufacturing clients who can.
  • Keeping poor inventory or offering poor product performance
    “An IMR lives and dies by the relationships they build in the market,” Turpin said. “If an IMR has a reputation of representing manufacturers who don’t keep products in inventory, or whose products don’t work very well, it can torpedo their success.”
  • Treating your IMR like they’re not part of the team
    You chose your IMR because you believed they could help your business. Why would you treat them as anything less than a partner? Make sure you provide ample engagement, communication, and support to IMR to show you value the work that they do.
  • Ignoring the success of your IMR
    When your IMR does well, make sure that they know it! It’s important to recognize and celebrate the success of your IMR, from verbal congratulations to making absolutely sure that commissions are always paid on time.

A Good Partnership Gets You Greater Attention

Although your outsourced sales team may represent other manufacturers, the truth is that you have an awful lot of sway over how much attention your products get. It all depends on how you choose to build the relationship.

When you establish a strong partnership with your IMR, provide them the tools they need in order to sell, and avoid putting obstacles in their path, you can ensure your products remain front and center. That’s great for your sales, and it’s also great for your business.

Guide to Outsourcing Sales with an IMR