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small business owners - sales rep question

Old 07-08-2013, 04:02 PM
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Default small business owners - sales rep question

I have a question for all you small business owner. As many of you know Im 20 years old and I own M&M Lures. I am based out of my parents basement and I am trying to grow my company as big and as fast as I can with the extra money I have that I'm not dumping back into growing my inventory. I would like to hire a few sales reps along the east coast, Florida basically anywhere there is water. So my question is how do you pay them? A percent of all the sales they make? pay them for time they are on the road and a % of sales? I would like to have a sales rep business plan before I start talking to potential sales reps.

I have sent out rigs to charter captains but got no return and just blew me off. With the higher cost of the umbrella rigs compared to a small jig or single lure I hate sending them out for free with no guarantee of getting anything in return. So I was also thinking if I charge people(some avid fishing THT members) the $40 for the rig and shipping and after they send some pics/video show there fishing buddies I will refund their $40 and shipping and if I they would be a good representative of M&M Lures I could hire them. What do you guys think of that plan?PM me if you would like to help or like that idea and are interested in trying out the rigs in your area

Thanks
Matt
Old 07-08-2013, 04:09 PM
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Matt,
I don't know the answer to any of your questions, but I can tell you that I have confidence that you're going to succeed in one way, shape or form. At 20, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about right now, but you will some day. I promise you.
Old 07-08-2013, 04:18 PM
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At your age and your business, I am going to tell you something you probably don't want to hear.

You are faced with being your own Sales Rep for a while. If your charter guys are not biting on the pro staff thing, then I would say you yourself have to be the boots on the ground. Meet these guys at their boats, go to the marina's..Show them what you are offering and tell them what you expect in return if their results are positive AND negative.

Don't be afraid to address the negative aspects of your product. It will be the only way you can improve and keep up with the Jones's.

Face to Face.. I'm afraid no one can represent you but yourself right now. Unless I totally mis-read the size of your business. These guys are taking your products like I take the free pens out of the envelope that come in the mail with my name on it.
Old 07-08-2013, 04:25 PM
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What sets you apart? Why should they buy your lures? What is the advantage?

You need to determine these and maximize it as your own rep. No one will sell like you because you own it.
Old 07-08-2013, 06:04 PM
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the thing thats holding me back now is that I'm in all the shops around me all in the Cape Cod, RI area. I can't sell this product over the phone or from a picture to the buyer, they have to see the product and the quality that sets me apart from my competitor. I have tried calling shops, emailing, and mailing information to shops. I sent to 2 charter captains, 1 in Florida the other in California. The mistake I made was not researching them more it was when I first started out as a 15 year old and didn't know much. Most shops and fisherman in my area know what the umbrella rigs are and I want to spread my product range.

im just looking for someone to take the day and drive to all the local shops and show them my product just like a 1 day thing maybe 2 days depending on how far they want to go pay them for that day and a % of the shops that place orders and % from every repeat order that those shops place
Old 07-08-2013, 06:20 PM
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These guys are the real deal

http://www.igfa.org/fish/Search-Capt...nd-Guides.aspx
Old 07-08-2013, 06:21 PM
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The previous posts are correct.

Where you are at this point will seem like a Catch-22 , but the Rep needs an established product to sell, and you need sales to get established. At this point the Rep cannot invest his time or money to help get you established.

But assuming your product is good, you have youthful energy, and passion for your product on your side. Now its time for Gorilla Marketing. Whatever you can do for minimal investment to get your name recognized, and your product in the hands of users.

Time to pound the pavement and knock on some doors. Some ideas come to mind, and I'm sure some with more expertise will chime in with more.
In no particular order.

- Get in touch with the local fishing clubs. Offer to buy the beer and give away a few rigs in exchange for some time at their club meeting to demonstrate your wares, and the best way to use them etc.

- Walk the docks at boat shows. You cannot sell from the aisles, and booths while in your future are probably too expensive for now - But, fishing boat Rep's are all fishermen. Give them something to try - and FOLLOW UP with them.

-- Walk the docks locally getting the guides, charter crews etc. interested. They will ignore what comes in the mail, but face to face they will probably give you some time, and try your stuff. Its your job to FOLLOW UP with them, not wait for the phone to ring.

- Work with your local tackle shops. Buy lunch in exchange for some time with their people really showing them what you have, why its better, and why to sell them. Spiff them another lunch for the first 10 sales, 20 sales etc. Whatever number makes sense. Get a sign in the store - now selling M&M Lures.

- I know zip about your product (I can build you a fishing boat, but don't know didley about fishing) but it does look colorful and fishy. Find a local rod / real builder or supplier and team up at shows. Put your rigs on his rods - then work the dealers / manufacturers that will be displaying at your local show to display them. I have worked this way in the past. Our boats look better with rods in the T-top and leaning post, but its another thing to deal with when setting up a major show - something I don't wanna deal with - - - - but if a rod / tackle guy is willing to put his stuff on our boats for the duration of the show I am happy to display his signage prominantly in the booth. And you NEED name recognition.

- Work on your web site. It needs to be brighter, more colorful, and feature your product better. Find a college with a good web-design department. Students are always looking to pad their portfolio, and often work cheap.

- Find out what the minimal sponsor level is at any local tournaments. That will usually give you an Ad in the program, and access to pitch to the participants.

- Bang on the doors of the fishing magazines (national is good, but start local or regional) They usually have a "new products" section. Find out their requirements, and pitch them as better, cheaper, faster, etc. Whatever your "hook" may be.

- At the same time find out what shows in your area the Magazine guys are attending. Beg (or offer lunch!) to get the writers to stand still for 15 minutes while you pitch why your stuff is better, cheaper, faster, etc. Sometimes you can get into a sidebar on a boat test or feature article they are already doing in your area.

- Play the "kid" thing to your advantage. Be professional, but be who you are - a passionate young kid with a product and a dream. People like that - use it.
*** Don't be offended by the term kid - you are a young businessman, but some of us have favorite boat shoes older than you.

Think Creative
Think Cheap
Think FOLLOW UP! FOLLOW UP! FOLLOW UP!

Good luck!
Old 07-08-2013, 06:48 PM
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Thanks Design59

I have booths at all the shows, I am in about 30 shops/online stores, adds in a local magazine (On The Water) sponsor some local small tournaments . The problem I'm having is I have reached the market in my area I have no problem with sales in the Massachusetts southern New England areas its the areas I cant reach that I want to expand too.

The website is being completely redone now
Old 07-08-2013, 07:09 PM
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What Design59 said.


You are the face of your product so you have to focus on not only selling your lures, but also selling yourself. There are plenty of companies that campaign well and some are smaller than others but they all know that old idea of spending money to make money.
Old 07-08-2013, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by basswacker View Post
Thanks Design59

I have booths at all the shows, I am in about 30 shops/online stores, adds in a local magazine (On The Water) sponsor some local small tournaments . The problem I'm having is I have reached the market in my area I have no problem with sales in the Massachusetts southern New England areas its the areas I cant reach that I want to expand too.

The website is being completely redone now
You should be at icast right now! If you really want to build your distribution that is the best place in the world to meet the big players and the retailers. Hell bass pro might want to buy from you!

The post by mike early on is 100% correct. You are going to have to be your own rep for a while. You are dealing a product that doesn't have a very big return per piece so you have to do volume to make a success out of it. You won't find a rep willing to work for those very small orders he puts together. Nor will he go after it like you will.

You can absolutely sell your products online and over the phone, etc. I did it with both of my businesses but I am talking about my fly business in this reply to you. I have never done a show, never even advertised before. Once you get a hardcore following you'll be just fine. It takes some time and very hard work to get there. Once you have the confidence of some really big players the rest will follow.

There is an old saying in boat building. When you build a new boat the first 10 are free. Meaning you make nothing on them profit wise but you get some good guys running them and spreading the word. The same was true in my fly gear biz.

The other thing I can tell you is don't worry about the money. Worry about doing the best you can for your customers and putting out the best product you can. Be honest always and be ok with taking the negatives. If you take credit for the good you also have to man up if you screw up.

My grandmother told me a long time ago "if you want to be a success in business pick something you love and be damn good at it" then she said "if you want to keep it you always do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it, don't ever lie to anyone and nobody will ever be mad at you"

I still live by those words she passed to me. She passed away 4 years ago at age 98 a billionaire after coming to this country from Germany with what she could carry. The don't make the,any wiser or hard working than she was.

You are young. You have a lot of time to figure this out. The fact that you are doing this at 20 is promising for this country! You will be fine. Keep doing what you're doing. Your instincts will tell you when you need to do what.

Talk to Alan hastabaka at got stryper. He is a good friend and started just like you are. He is up in mass as well. He'll steer you right.
Old 07-08-2013, 07:20 PM
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Sounds like you have accomplished alot! Well done.
I think now the trick is research, cheap airfare, and cheaper motels.
With some planning you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in three hard days in an area. Florida will mean flying to minimize your time away, but the mid-atlantic can probably be done as efficiently by car from your home base.
You are still going to be your most effective salesman at this point.

Think of it as - go on the road and grow sales a chunk - build the business up to that level - repeat. Don't get caught in the trap of selling a too big a chunk you can't yet swallow.
Old 07-08-2013, 07:34 PM
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Might want to look into a Mfg. rep... They typically have 30 or so products that they introduce to different retailers. Typically they carry a diverse line of products in the same category but not duplicates. Another words if they were selling lures the would just sell yours. They might also sell Penn reels, Bait tanks, and 25 to 30 other items related to fishing. They usually work on a straight commission on product orders. This way they are their own company and often times have reps in different locations around the USA for better exposure. By using these guys your not paying for gas, insurance, expense accounts etc..They usually work on a 20 to 35% commission. Hope this helps... Good luck
Old 07-08-2013, 07:53 PM
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I don't know what tackle sales reps do but sales reps of boat related products (pumps, cleats, compasses, etc.) typically get 3-7% commission on sales that they make. The reps I've become friendly with over the years don't get paid for anything other than sales. They don't get mileage. They don't get per diem, etc.

It sounds like you are doing pretty good locally. If you have a good story and local reputation, you may find a tackle rep that is willing to take you on and get your product out of the local market. Too bad you didn't post this a little sooner, I could have pointed out that ICAST is going on (it started today in Vegas). You could probably find just about every tackle rep group in the business there. Of course, you could jump on a plane. It's going on through Friday.

If you've got the time, a road trip down the coast could be helpful but doing everything yourself can be counterproductive if you can't do everything. Sometimes it's better to stick to your core competencies and pay others to do the other stuff. I'm not saying you can't do it. As others have said, you are probably your best salesman at this point but if you've got to build the rigs, answer the phones, do the billing, etc., a sales rep could be your best friend.
Old 07-08-2013, 09:13 PM
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I cant speak for the the tackle industry but I can speak about the security industry. Loook for a good rep firm. Bare in mind that you may not get the "A" list firm the ones that have the top lines. Look for the "B" listers and work the trade only shows lots of networking at least in the our business is how its done.
most rep firms are paid on a percentage comission basis. not sure what the tackle industry is. Stay focused, drivin and dedicated and you will make it! good luck
Old 07-09-2013, 06:30 AM
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This is the best group of helpful comments I've ever seen on this site. I can't really add much to this other than I want to take a look at your lures now, and I'll buy something to see what you have. I like the plan you've been on so far, I like the enthusiasm and I like the advice given here. Keep believing in yourself, it's important.
Old 07-09-2013, 06:51 AM
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Load up your car, drive south, pound the pavement. You are your best salesman.
Old 07-09-2013, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by edale99 View Post
Load up your car, drive south, pound the pavement. You are your best salesman.
Yep

Get to know airports

Hire someone to do the other stuff
Old 07-09-2013, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by anglersedgemarine View Post

My grandmother told me a long time ago "if you want to be a success in business pick something you love and be damn good at it" then she said "if you want to keep it you always do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it, don't ever lie to anyone and nobody will ever be mad at you"

I still live by those words she passed to me. She passed away 4 years ago at age 98 a billionaire after coming to this country from Germany with what she could carry. The don't make the,any wiser or hard working than she was.
I'd like to hear more about your grandmother sometime....She sounds like an interesting woman and gave you very solid advice. PM me, if you'd like...

Basswacker,

Congrats on your business and asking for advice. Reaching out for assistance is a great idea. You have received some great advice here.

I will say, instead of trying to add to your payroll, look into a PR company and see if anyone might take you on cheap. Even before that, contact the editor of the good fishing publications or online sites and send them a sample of your best product. See if they will write a review. That will get you broader exposure and an unbiased review.

Good luck and listen to Anglers' grandmother.....
Old 07-09-2013, 08:36 AM
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You want to expand into Florida? Great idea since Sailfish tournaments dominate my area in January / February when everyone up north are shovelling snow. Just checked your website for the first time and some observations. Eels? Shad? Not a very popular bait in South Florida. I'm sure this works great in the northeast, but I don't remember the last time anyone down here talked about fishing for stripers. If you want to capture the south Florida market, you need to develop a line consistent with our fishing. Sailfish, marlin, wahoo, cobia, dolphin. Lots of skirts and feathers.

Also, get someone with a quality digital camera with better lighting for pictures of your rigs - come up with a better backdrop as well (looks like a bed sheet).

Subscribe to a couple Florida fishing magazines (Florida Sportsman, Florida Sport Fishing, etc) and see what the competition is selling, visit their website for products and pricing. research what people are using and what works.

Sales rep? As others mentioned, no one knows your product like you. You need to figure out what unique character that you possess. Tying rigs in your parent's basement? You could train someone to do that and pay them a flat rate per part.

Not sure how much time you are putting into this, but you stand a better chance of being successful if you are putting 80 hours a week into it instead of 20. Good luck!
Old 07-09-2013, 09:22 AM
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If I'm correct your market is mainly for striper fishing. So start slowly working your way down south hitting all the tackle shops a few at a time. Have dates just for marketing your product but make sure you don't sell more then you can produce. Another words don't sell more product then you can make. You also need to learn the regulation per state. In Va we can have hooks in all the shade in a rig and I would not buy one if it only had the outer shade with hooks as in your product.

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