Reprint from Giftware News, March 1991

For Suppliers Only.

The Remedy To Wrong Rep Syndrome
Is Roger Wilson

by Carol Horn

While there may not be antidotes for all current economic problems, if your business is suffering due to "wrong rep syndrome", recovering may be as simple as reaching out to Roger Wilson. He's the savvy and seasoned entrepreneur behind California based MRP (Manufacturers Representative Profile) which boasts of detailed information on 70 to 80 percent of all manufacturers reps who sell nearly every type of consumer product in the United States.

With over 25 years in the industry, Wilson has combined his experience with marketing smarts to help manufacturers nationwide. He was a manufacturer's rep for 16 years as well as a marketing consultant for 21 years. MRP's "top gun" has assisted over 500 manufacturers and corporations in bringing their lines to the marketplace from scratch, and hundreds more in reorganization of their national sales effort.

Many consider Wilson to be the foremost authority on "how to develop a successful selling relationship between manufacturers and their representatives". While there is no fee to the sales rep, they must complete an in-depth questionnaire called the MRP Manufacturers Representative Profile in order to be a part of the MRP data base.

The profile study reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a representative's management style and sales effort. It also lists the top 10 lines he sells and how long those lines have been represented, the classes of retailers he sells and services on a daily basis, shows attended, number of sales people and territories he covers, chain store coverage, distributors serviced and much more.

MRP was born in 1986 out of the frustration Roger Wilson experienced since 1970 in assisting his clients to find representatives to sell their lines. "We just did not have enough objective information on representatives we selected to represent our clients' lines," he says.

As a result 25 percent of the rep agents selected were successful and 75 percent had to be replaced over and over again.

Even today, most companies select their reps based on industry reputation or referrals from other reps or manufacturers. Generally, there's very little concrete information as to how appropriate the reps' agencies are to sell their specific line.

Wilson told Giftware News that the field of consumer products has over 150 classes of trade (types of retailers), and his research shows that most reps are only efficient in eight to ten classes of trade. To complicate matters more, each rep is efficient in a different combination of classes of trade than another.

"You cannot rely too much on interviewing sales reps because their stock and trade is salesmanship. If they want your line, they will tell you everything you want to hear to get it," reports Wilson. Thus he discovered that detailed information had to be collected by a third party in order for it to be more objective.

The cost to a manufacturer of starting a new rep agency with a new set of samples and preparing them to sell the line is astronomical. If that rep agency fails to be successful, the manufacturer risks losing some of his established customers to competitors.

 

The cost to a manufacturer of starting a new rep agency with a new set of samples and preparing them to sell the line is astronomical. If that rep agency fails to be successful, the manufacturer risks losing some of his established customers to competitors.

It took 1 1/2 years and $250,000 to assemble information on 40 percent of the manufacturer's reps in the United States. In 1986 when MRP began selling information, it was just a matter of months when Wilson realized that selling information was not enough. "Many of our clients did not know how to work with rep agencies…in fact many of the techniques they were using were suicidal," he says. MRP then developed a complete system of working with agents that gets results.

"I don't know where else I would go for the help," explains Deborah Randolph of Randolph and Lark Ltd. (makers of decorative tabletop pottery). "We didn't know how to find the right reps, the time to research was endless. We weren't having much success and had a good deal of rep turnover. When my partner, Isabel Lark, and I saw the MRP ad, we responded."


"Roger Wilson sounded just like what we needed. He was able to show us we were not approaching reps correctly, or motivating properly, or following through. We now have far less turnover and we're doing 2 1/2 times more in sales. Without a doubt, we would recommend MRP. The national program assured us of not missing a territory and we really needed the consulting services MRP provides," she adds.


When asked how Deborah Randolph would describe Roger Wilson, she promptly replies, "He has follow-through and personal integrity beyond reproach. He's a real jewel!"


At TLC Greetings (a division of McCall Pattern), executive Gary Meidinger refers to Roger Wilson as "A matchmaker. He matches the product to the appropriate rep." How did TLC discover MRP 16 months ago?? "We responded to a flyer sent by Roger." The best part is recognizing immediate increases in sales and profits. MRP is IDEAL for a new company because it eliminates searching and directs you to the proper group of reps. It's very timesaving! Gary made it clear that TLC got more in service than they expected. "We were able to choose from 10 prospects for each region…and they were ranked by who to contact first. All were better than what we had working for us before we used the MRP", reports this TLC exec, "and the good news is, they're still on board. Roger Wilson has a wealth of knowledge, and what's nice is, he stays in touch and is always eager to pitch in. He's rather like a partner in our efforts!"


Darlene Zibell of Special Things in Minnesota also saw the ad in Giftware News. Suffering from the wrong rep syndrome, she sent for info and today believes it

was one of the best business moves she has made. She is pleased to report that most of the reps she retained are still on.

What stands out in Zibell's mind? "The follow-through is great. Roger calls frequently to see how we're doing. He's one of a kind and has real clout in the industry."

Special Thanks manufactures lace covered baskets with music boxes and first used MRP in three regions. Success forced the company to go national!


Don Harley of Designer Selections in Minnesota says years ago he repped a line that brought him in contact with Roger Wilson.

"Now in my own business I decided to touch base with him and was impressed with the service his literature described. Our company sells inspirational products in the religious market, however, in expanding to the secular market we needed help. MRP provided it. I could work on a select region basis that made sense, was time saving and gave effective results. I would subscribe again in a minute!"

Harley emphasized that he knows of no other service as detailed as MRP, stating , "We got eight to ten profiles in each territory – a real wealth of info. It would be difficult to achieve this on our own." And how would this Designer Selections exec describe Roger Wilson?? "He's a good salesman, has great integrity and I admire how he conducts his business."


At Calligraphy Collection, reports Allen Fisher, "Signing up with MRP was the best business investment I made. We had two great reps but the others weren't good. Our efforts to find the right reps were difficult. It was frustrating. MRP was the solution." In business seven years, we've seen flat sales triple! Without question, Allen attributes the success to Roger Wilson. Allen has an MBA in marketing but he never learned what Roger taught him! He says Roger's a naturally positive person. "He's excited about business and finds it fun. It's like he's on our board of directors. He's at my side and gives well thought out ideas. I'm very happy!"


If a manufacturer is not satisfied with a rep he's hired who is not doing well with their line, MRP will conduct a second computer search to satisfy the client's needs. With a database of rep profiles representing product lines from general and better giftware to electronics, housewares, bathware, collectible, toys, tabletop, office supplies, super markets, drug chains, wholesale clubs, sporting goods, auto & truck aftermarket, hardware, home building centers, home centers and more.
Wilson says he is ready to conquer the "wrong rep syndrome in the '90's."

As we head into a decade with marketing challenges greater than ever before…your time is more valuable than ever. If you're looking for less gray hairs and prettier profits you may just want to call Roger Wilson.

 

Manufacturers Representative Profile specializes in helping your independent sales force deliver consistent and satisfactory sales performance on your line