Jewelry Trends & Jewelry News for 2014

The jewelry industry encompasses a wide range of products and purposes, from the most expensive upscale precious jewels to fun and casual jewelry for everyday wear. Checking in on jewelry trends requires looking at high end fashion shows, consumer behavior, and what patterns and ideas are intriguing designers now.


Blue was a big color in 2013 and looks to continue its reign in 2014. Sapphire and topaz are key jewels, as are imitations of sapphire and topaz. Abalone has been used more frequently in jewelry in the past year, and is somewhat inexpensive, as well as intriguing, since it is not your typical jewelry substance.

Other trending colors include orange (which looks great with blue) and what has been named the 2014 Color of the Year by the Pantone Color Institute, “radiant orchid.” Yellow gold has increased in popularity and will probably continue to do so, with the price per oz of gold dropping.

Focus on the Wrist

While watches and bracelets never go out of style, per se, there does seem to be a resurgence of interest in them as beautifully designed, statement pieces of jewelry. Bracelets are particularly great for spring, as sleeves get shorter and bare skin occupies more real estate. Watches are in some ways the companion to this trend for men, while also maintaining popularity among women. Technology is restoring attention to the watch. The Samsung Galaxy Gear watch may’ve revitalized interest in watches in general, and there are a number of watches available that look great but sit in the mid-level price range. Plus the often-rumored iWatch from Apple is something else to add interest in this area, and is sure to be a high-style item.

Getting Geometric

Another jewelry trend that’s been spotted is the emergence of eye-catching shapes, like circles, pyramids, and chevrons. These are appearing in high-end and mass market jewelry stores, adding some pep and fun to contemporary looks, and playing off punk and rock inspired fashion.

Whether you are a retailer looking to stock the hottest items in the jewelry industry or a designer looking to capitalize on trends in your production or wholesaling, paying heed to these jewelry trends and keeping up with jewelry news should help you meet with success in 2014. Learn How to Find Great Independent Jewelry Sales Reps or Jewelry Sales Rep Opportunities to set yourself up well for the rest of the year.

LED Lighting News: What’s Happening in Industrial Lighting in 2014

The LED lighting industry is an interesting one, frequently making waves one way or another, as lighting in general is subject to standards that change every few years, if not each year. In the case of LEDs, many of these changes are favorable. As regulations increase demand for energy-efficient lighting, the LED lighting industry finds more customers.

New Lighting Regulations

In January of 2014, the latest set of regulations took effect, aimed at the simple white light bulbs we remember from our youth, the 40 and 60-watt incandescent bulbs. These regulations were originally passed as part of the Energy Efficiency and Security Act of 2007 and finally rolled out as part of a staggering of regulations. These bulbs must now be 25% more efficient. A 60-watt bulb must use no more than 43 watts and a 40-watt bulb no more than 29.

This is a huge development in LED lighting news, as the 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs make up about 80% of incandescents. For businesses this squeeze on traditional lightbulbs will lead to them more seriously considering a LED retrofit of their current lighting setup. It also means that figuring out How to Find Great LED Lighting Sales Reps will increase even more in importance.

Research on ROI

Lighting retrofits are making progressively more sense for businesses. According to research from Navigant, LED lighting can yield a return on investment in 2 to 3 years, and the local, state, and national incentives that can accompany such a project can short the ROI timeframe to as little as six months.

The ROI in question is often a big number, too, and for good reason. At a retail store electric lighting generally accounts for about 22% of total energy use. Consider that a lighting retrofit can save up to 30 to 50 percent in terms of lighting energy, and 10 to 20 percent in terms of cooling energy, and you are looking at significant savings in a commercial enterprise’s budget.

With all signs pointing to a very LED lighting friendly future, you may want to read our guide, “How to Find Independent LED Lighting Sales Rep Opportunities.” LED lighting news is taking over the lighting industry, and there’s never been a better time to be part of it.

Great Sales Rep Job Interview Questions

Great Sales Rep Job Interview Questions

You’re a business owner in the financial industry in the process of expanding your lines quickly. Your product or service is ready to go, and you have used a service such as RepHunter to create a pool of highly qualified independent financial sales reps. How do you build a team of commission-only sales reps that will bring you the most success?

Below we look at some essential job interview questions to ask candidates when you’re staffing up a sales team, with reps selling financial services or selling any other type of product.

How To Conduct a Job Interview for Great Reps

Work – Job Interview Questions

What is your experience with this line?

Make sure they understand and like the product. In today’s business environment, a lot of selling is coaching prospects through the selection process and being able to rebut competitors or dispel misinformation. Having a depth of knowledge around the product and an appreciation of its value are important and hard to duplicate sales tools.

In the past, what were your quotas and how did you meet them?

A good sales rep must hit quotas, but to hire a good sales rep for your business, it’s important to drill down a bit more. Was the rep given leads by past companies, or did the rep pound the pavement to find their own? Are your rep’s numbers the product of renewals or new sales? Was the rep skilled at selling the highest priced packages, or selling many of the lowest? How long did it take the rep to close deals? This information is key for finding out who makes the best rep for your financial industry related product. Some reps will fit different businesses better than others.

Culture – Job Interview Questions

What are your hobbies/how do you like to spend your free time?

Make sure your sales reps fit the culture you are trying to create. Some companies like to incentivize sales reps by offering gift cards, vacations, cars, and so on. If your sales rep isn’t incentivized by what you have to offer, you may want to find someone else who will mesh with your company better.

What motivates you in your sales rep career?

A competitive rep has the drive to make sales. You can offer high commission and still end up with folks who don’t have the internal motivation to get things done for your company. In your interview, try to identify what makes this potential rep tick, and if their drive is a good fit for your product and sales cycle. Of course a sales rep will want to be able to get great commissions, but it’s more important to identify who has a talent and passion for selling itself, and not just chasing their own personal bottom line.

Get your interview questions right off the bat, and you’ll find yourself with a more highly qualified financial sales rep team and more HR time to boot. What questions do you think are important for interviewing sales reps?

Sales Trends: Finding Sales Reps & Succeeding In Sales in 2014

Sales Trends: Finding Sales Reps & Succeeding In Sales in 2014

We’ve talked about how as a supplier or provider of insurance (known in our terminology as a “Principal”) you can find excellent commission-only sales reps for your product (“How to Find Great Independent Insurance Reps”). These are great tips for identifying who should be part of your core commission-only staff. To increase sales and keep your team happy, it’s important to make sure your reps are the right ones and attuned with the most effective sales strategies for today’s economy and general business environment. Read our tips below for getting the most out of commission-only sales in 2014 in the insurance industry.

How to Hire a Sales Rep – Screen Thoroughly

Taking extra time to review applicants can result in a hardier sales staff that you can rely upon to grow your business. Learn more about their past experiences. Former teachers can be great assets as sales staff, for example, in their ability to communicate effectively and sympathetically. Dive deeper into resumes than you would on the first interview and get a good feel for the person. Find out if they’ve ever used your service or a similar service, and what they thought of it at the time. Break the churn and burn rep cycle and find superstars.

Select & Foster Today’s Sales Skills to Keep Up With Sales Trends

As with every other industry, the insurance industry has been deluged with information that puts potential buyers of your service at a higher info level than ever. Prospects will be checking reviews and learning information online before you have a chance to pitch them. This means that people pursuing insurance sales rep jobs need to be more informed than ever about the industry around them – competitors, misinformation, new sales trends, and more. They need to know about your company’s reputation, and be prepared to respond to online reviews of your service. In fact, reps should welcome this – the high info skeptics are beginning to drive purchasing more than the chummy types. It is up to the rep to help buyers make a decision, and show them the efficiencies in making that purchase with you, rather than simply packaging a product. Sales reps need to engage in a critical process with prospects to determine what unmade needs haven’t been met, what aspects of the business can be connected that are not now, and provide informed support through what has become a longer sales cycle.

What sales trends do you think will affect sales in 2014? Let us know how you are affected as a sales rep or as a Principal below.

Pharma Trends: The Optimistic Pharmaceutical Industry Heads into 2014

The Optimistic Pharmaceutical Industry Heads into 2014

The economy’s slow improvement has meant a rosier outlook for a number of industries, not least the pharmaceutical industry.

A business confidence report by Kable for the first quarter of 2014 shows a rosy outlook for the majority of pharmaceutical executives surveyed. 74% of executives were sanguine about the prospects for their company, and 60% believed the industry as a whole had strong growth prospects for the next six months. In fact the optimism levels of executives as a whole leapt by 8-10 percent page points over the last quarter of 2013.

To what can this confidence be attributed? Improved economic conditions around the world, new products ready to hit the marketing, and the emergence of new markets in which pharmaceutical companies have invested are among the most important pharma trends.

How the ACA Will Affect the Pharmaceutical Industry

As with the medical device industry, the pharmaceutical industry also stands to be changed by the Affordable Care Act’s implementation in 2014. From the looks of it, the pharmaceutical industry stands to overwhelmingly gain. According to Forbes, the industry should receive $10 – 35 billion of additional profits in the first decade of implementation. By 2020 revenue should be increased by one third according to GlobalData of London. This is despite expiring patents on some very well-known drugs, such as Lipitor. No wonder pharmaceutical executives are optimistic – GlobalData suggests $115 billion in new business could be generated in the next ten years for pharma. The influx of new patients simply overcomes the other hurdles the industry faces with competition from generics.

The sunny outlook in pharma trends will not surprise the careful observer. Pharma was an important partner in the construction of the bill, even though it exacts its costs in the form of greater prescription drug rebates. Being present in negotiations has paid off it seems, with the good outweighing the bad.

A Pharmaceutical Sales Rep’s Outlook

With so many new patients stressing the system, independent pharmaceutical sales reps should have their hands full indefinitely. Adding new lines and adjusting to the market should provide great opportunities moving forward into 2014 and beyond. For companies looking to jump out ahead of these trends, adding pharma sales jobs, or even more easily, taking on independent, commission-only reps, will help you expand your business rapidly.


The Medical Device Tax & How It Will Affect Medical Device Sales

The medical device industry is subject to one of the most buzzed about provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The medical device tax is a 2.3% excise tax on the gross sales of medical device manufacturers. The tax has led to a fair amount of unrest, and has been targeted for bipartisan repeal efforts.

Is the tax here to stay? How does it impact the industry, and what does it mean for independent medical device sales reps? We take a look below.

Is The Tax Likely to Stay

The House has attempted to repeal the healthcare bill more than 40 times, so it’s never certain whether any provision of the ACA is here to stay. Unlike some other aspects of the bill, however, the medical device tax has been the subject of separate repeal talk and legislative effort. Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the tax. Opponents say over a billion dollars have already been paid out as a result of it, and that the tax’s targeting of gross sales, instead of profits, makes it unfairly difficult for smaller medical device providers to get ahead. Opponents also say that the tax could lead to the outsourcing of jobs overseas, and slow sector growth.

Proponents of the tax see it as the medical device’s sacrifice for the opportunities the ACA presents – a larger market, as doctors and hospitals adjust to providing for millions of newly insured. Defenders of the tax cite the fact that the excise tax applies no matter where the device is made, in or out of the US, and thus it should not in and of itself drive outsourcing. More pointedly, supporters say the medical device industry has been protected for a long time, and that R&D budgets should not be affected by this relatively small medical device tax.

For at least the near future, it seems like the tax is not going away. With midterm elections coming up in November, there is a chance that that will change.

Industry Impact

To get a sense of the real impact, we looked at The site, which tries not to take political sides, suggests that thousands, not tens of thousands, of jobs have been lost. The medical device tax is expected to raise $29 billion by 2023. It does not appear to be motivating massive outsourcing. In fact, medical device spokesmen have suggested the impact on medical device lines is unclear.

Impact on Reps

For reps, staying informed about current events is important in communicating with potential buyers of your line. No one wants to buy from a company that is unable to deal with legislative hurdles such as this or cannot effectively communicate a response. The medical device industry is also expected to continue to grow, so for sales reps, this may be a change in the business environment, but the promising horizon remains.

Giftware Trends for 2014

The Giftware industry looks to be in store for a good year in 2014. The economy in general is improving, which means more consumer spending and a rosier outlook for almost all industries. In addition to this, a number of projected trends in consumer behavior also favor giftware sales reps and their Principal companies. Check out our take on the most important of these trends below.

The Growing Popularity of Smaller Stores

You may be familiar with Small Business Saturday, the annual mom and pop and otherwise small business store response to Black Friday. This new shopping day reflects growing interest in supporting smaller businesses, an interest that seems set to continue for 2014 and should be a boon to giftware industry principals. Big box stores are downsizing or downscaling to provide more intimate experiences, as online shopping is more likely to win on price regardless of where you go. This return to a more charming in person shopping experience should help people in giftware sales present new lines more easily, and win new customers.

Local is the Big Buzzword

The growth of interest in locally sourced goods parallels the interest in a more localized and personal shopping experience. In 2013, more than third of consumers said they were intending to shop locally, at small businesses, an increase of around 25% from 2012 (MSN). Items that sell well at these kinds of shops are right up giftware’s alley – unique gifts, artisanal products, and so on. People are motivated to shop locally in order to find things they can’t find online, and giftware trends should reflect that.

Displays Are Given Time to Shine

Big box stores are setting the trend of providing engaging in-store displays. Imagine, how does Apple get so many people to walk through the doors of its Apple stores? A huge reason for this was their willingness to allow people to play with their products. The return to prominence of in-store displays marks a great opportunity for gift sales reps to show off their product with fun, colorful, and even interactive displays.

What do you think will help you succeed in giftware sales in 2014? Let us know in the comments!

Apparel Trends in Fashion and Sportswear for 2014

The economy is recovering and unemployment is at a 5 year low, meaning people are spending more and opportunities for sales reps are increasing. Does this mean apparel is going to see a boom year in 2014? Read on to find out.

Early Indications

Retail spending at the end of 2013 looked relatively strong. Unfortunately for the apparel industry, that strength was concentrated on pricier items, like furniture and appliances, and less so on clothes. Does this mean apparel will struggle in 2014? It’s hard to say as other indications, such as this Buxton report, suggest that apparel spending more or less reflects the economy as a whole.

Online Sales Continue to Grow

For the apparel sales rep, contacting stores and possible distributors with an online presence is more important than ever. Where storefront apparel sales only grew by 0.2% annual over 2001-2011 according to Buxton, e-commerce and online sales grew by 18.2%. Online sales are taking over an increasingly greater share of the billions of dollars in the apparel market. Reaching customers online, and promoting products aggressively online, are important things to look for now from apparel sales reps.

Sportswear Dominates

Under Armour and Lululemon are practically ubiquitous these days, as sportswear has captured the imagination and pocketbooks of many American households. According to the AP, workout clothes are selling faster than items like jeans and blouses. In 2013 workout clothing spending increased by 7%, to $31.6 billion, while other types of clothing sales only rose 1%. And everyone is in on the action, from more expected names like Nike to designers like Calvin Klein.

In fact, sportswear is now chic. Retailers are riding a tidal wave of interest in men and especially women presenting themselves as healthy and active in all phases of life. People are willing to shell out dollars to look good while they work out. Nike has added $1 billion in revenue over the past 4 years in women’s sportswear, in part because of this trend. If you are looking for apparel sales representatives jobs, work, lines, you name it, workout clothes should be on your radar as an item to add to your portfolio.

What do you see as being a big seller in apparel this year? Let us know in the comments!

Cosmetic Sales Trends for 2014

The beauty and cosmetics industry are particularly susceptible to trends, as the market is constantly changing due to technology and fashion. There are many groups with their eyes on the beauty market, and we take a look at some of their predictions below.

Skincare Benefits Still Popular

According to the NPD group, 86% of women purchase makeup products with skincare benefits, like moisturizer or SPF protection. If you are selling a product or thinking of entering the makeup market with a cosmetic sales representative, know that this added benefit will be a major plus to your consumer.

Beauty Spending Has Bounced Back from the Recession

The recent economic recession depressed spending in all areas. However, spending is bouncing back. In 2012, 14% of women began to spend more on beauty products, whereas 45% of women had spent less due to the economic crunch. Households with incomes greater than $75,000 a year were never touched by the recession, increasing their spending from 2008-2010. Beauty sales are a good bet in almost any economy.

The Men’s Grooming Sector Continues to Grow

When looking at product development, it’s hard to avoid the men’s grooming market. This market continues to grow as men pay more attention to their appearance, driven by the move from physical labor toward white collar office jobs. From 2012 to 2014, men’s grooming is expected to grow from $27 billion globally to $31 billion. Products contributing to this are shaving-related and increasingly post-shave, skincare and fragrance products.

BB Creams Are Flagging Slightly

BB Creams were the biggest trend of the past few years in the cosmetics industry. These products were advertised as an all in one product that helps eliminate blemishes, spots, and so on. If you are looking at selling cosmetics, these still provide a lot of opportunity, as does any product offering multi-purpose use. The buzz has died down a bit, however.

DD Creams May Be Rising

Buzz seems to have shifted to “DD creams” or “daily defense” creams. These are multi-purpose, like BB creams, and their added value is to protect the skin against external pollution as well as sweat and grease.

What trends do you see emerging in the beauty industry in 2014? Share your thoughts on skincare, cosmetic sales, and beauty sales in the comments section below!

Questions asked of a Principal by a Rep

As a Principal desiring to add independent sales reps to your marketing, you will be asked certain questions by the rep. You should be prepared with good answers. If you do not have the ability to give a strong answer now, you should take steps to put in place the missing elements and programs.

Here are some commons questions that you will be asked:

  1. What is your line of business?
  2. Where are your products manufactured?
  3. What are your total sales and quota achievements over the last few years?
  4. What territories are available?
  5. Are those territories exclusive?
  6. If not, do you have an existing rep in my territory?
  7. What is your marketing strategy and how are you developing leads?
  8. Is this a pioneering effort on the Rep’s part?
  9. How do you plan on supporting your reps?
  10. Do you provide samples to your reps?
  11. Do you provide training to your reps?
  12. What is the market response to your products?
  13. Do you have a rep network now?
  14. What are your commission rates and policy?

For more information on questions a rep will ask a principal, please see the very detailed article The First 50 Questions A Prospective Rep Will Ask You at the website of Billiken Group.

For more information, about working with Independent Sales Reps, you can create a free RepHunter profile for Principals and take advantage of our free Training Tools.