If you’re an industrial manufacturer looking for cross-selling opportunities to grow sales at existing and new accounts, you should consider partnering with an industrial manufacturers’ representative (IMR).

But, how do you pick the right one? How will you fit into the existing lines that they offer? What synergies or complementary products can they leverage to increase your opportunities?

Here’s what to expect and how to create a relationship that will boost your cross-selling powers.

Seeking Sales Synergy

Industrial manufacturers’ representative agencies typically specialize in a few industries, or in a narrow range of offerings, selling complementary products from multiple manufacturers. (Durrie Sales, for example, specializes in representing manufacturers of cutting tools, fasteners and accessories.)

By offering distributors complementary products, IMR’s are able to provide a more complete solution.

An IMR might carry a line of carbide drills from Manufacturer A, a line of CNC tool holders from Manufacturer B, and a line of cutting fluids from Manufacturer C.

None of these three manufacturers directly compete—but they all supply one part of the solution needed by end users.

This is where manufacturers stand to profit from cross-selling opportunities by partnering with an IMR. If you are Manufacturer A, for instance, you have a chance to make a sale every time your IMR is selling products from Manufacturers B and C.

The key is alignment with the end-user markets you wish to serve, so make sure you select an IMR whose existing products complement your own (and vice versa).

Advantages of Working with a Multi-line IMR to Create Cross-selling Opportunities

An IMR that specializes in your products helps grow your sales pipeline and increase revenue, all without the cost and hassle of having to hire, train or manage a direct salesperson. Here are the top reasons for partnering with an IMR.

Deliver a complete solution

Getting your foot in the door with end users and distributors is difficult when the products you offer are only a small part of the vast set of products a distributor offers. An IMR that represents multiple manufacturers at a time allows them to sell a variety of products to create an impressive and helpful solution for distributors.

Offer established relationships

IMRs have existing relationships with end users and distributors that they have cultivated over many years (sometimes even decades). They know the key players. They understand the interpersonal dynamics at each account. They know the pain points and the challenges. An established IMR can give you immediate access to key decision makers at strategic accounts, large and small.

Help you navigate complex distributors

How do you work with a distributor that has 4,500 suppliers, 23,000 employees, carries millions of SKUs, has annual sales of $10 billion, and sells to 5 million customers on three continents?

Penetrating an account of this size and complexity is difficult on your own. But an IMR with deep connections and expertise in the space knows how to navigate complex distributors, helping you avoid costly blunders that inexperienced manufactures make when courting large distributors.

Help you determine your GTM strategy

As an industrial manufacturer, you have several options when it comes to getting your products to market. There are at least 10 distribution models to choose from as part of your go-to-market (GTM) strategy. But which of these models is best for you?

An IMR can give you valuable insight when making that decision, as they can tell you who is buying what, when, why and in what quantities.

Because IMRs represent multiple manufacturers and sell to multiple distributors, they give you increased visibility into who your end users are and where your products are ending up. This is crucial business intelligence that helps you reach your markets using the best channels and strategy.

Questions to Ask Potential IMR Partners

If you like the idea of an IMR seeking out cross-selling opportunities for your brand while they are selling to distributors, here are five strategic questions to ask when looking to outsource your sales to an independent rep.

Q1: Are you already selling to our target market?

If you want to land new accounts, look for an IMR that has expertise selling to the customers you want to reach. Don’t look for a generalist that sells everything to everyone. Look instead for a specialist IMR that is already selling products that compliment yours to buyers that you want to reach.

Q2: How do our products complement the products that you already offer?

Remember, what you are looking for in an IMR is product synergy. You need an IMR that carries a complete line of products that complement—not compete with—the products that you manufacture.

Q3: How will our products fit on the IMR’s current line card?

Discover early on just how important your line of products will be to the IMR as far as their entire product mix is concerned. Clear expectations should be set ahead of time so you know how much time and effort they will likely devote to promoting your products.

Q4: Do you carry any competing products?

You have competitors, and IMRs carry multiple lines. So, make sure you know if a potential IMR partner carries any competing products. Expect transparency and full disclosure, and be wary of any IMR who is less than forthcoming (or dismissive) on this topic.

Q5: What level of onboarding and training do you offer?

To ensure a successful relationship and to boost your growth and profitability, your IMR should have a documented and proven onboarding process that sets you up for success. Through their onboarding process and ongoing training, an IMR helps you establish expectations, identify potential customers, perfect your go-to-market strategy, stay on top of industry trends, and plenty more.

Industrial Manufacturers’ Representatives: Your Key to More Cross-Selling Opportunities

Partnering with an IMR offers you many advantages, and one of them is increased cross-selling opportunities with distributors and end users that you might never reach on your own. IMRs have the industry knowledge, existing relationships, and complimentary products that you need to cross-sell effectively with existing and new accounts.

Want to learn more? Discover how Monster Tool boosted sales by 34% at one of their largest Midwest customers by partnering with Durrie Sales.

Download the Monster Tool Case Study