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.
To get a sense of the real impact, we looked at FactCheck.org. 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
- What is your line of business?
- Where are your products manufactured?
- What are your total sales and quota achievements over the last few years?
- What territories are available?
- Are those territories exclusive?
- If not, do you have an existing rep in my territory?
- What is your marketing strategy and how are you developing leads?
- Is this a pioneering effort on the Rep’s part?
- How do you plan on supporting your reps?
- Do you provide samples to your reps?
- Do you provide training to your reps?
- What is the market response to your products?
- Do you have a rep network now?
- 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.
Every sales representative must know the art of making presentations that get results. Excellent presentations are designed to anchor all the crucial points that you want in your presentation to influence your listener. An effective presentation is always the one that grabs your listener’s attention and leads him or her to take some kind of action. Often presenters make some of the common mistakes like creating a slide shows with piles of information and a mishmash of communication. Here are some tips for independent sales representatives to develop the right set of presentation skills:
The two goals to achieve
When you are making a presentation, your sole aim should be to accomplish two important goals. First, it is of paramount importance that all your audience’s focus should be in your presentation so that you can communicate with them completely. Second, compel your audience to take an immediate or future action. Any presentation is incomplete without an outcome and action steps for your audience to take. Your presentation should be able to enthrall and hold their attention and clear out any outside distractions that would compete with your presentation and desired outcome.
Things to incorporate in your presentation
Before making any presentation, the thing that every sales representative should remember is that human beings are visually-oriented to a greater or lesser extent. Some people taken in information best from a visual format; other prefer to hear your pitch. See if you can determine if your prospect is predominantly influenced in one of these ways, and slant your pitch accordingly.
People have limited attention spans and information processing capabilities. We remember images more than words. Therefore, as a presenter it is your responsibility to simplify the communication and get hold of the thinking of your audience.
You can use these simple steps to make your visual presentation effective:
- Reduce the number of sentences of your presentation and rather use pictures; reduce the number of words down into bullet points or eliminate words altogether if possible.
- Use pictures as anchors to support the key points that you want your audience to remember.
- Use active language instead of passive.
- Make sure that the visuals or pictures you are using are in some way or other related to the key points you are emphasizing, so that your audience can connect and retain the information, you are trying to give.
- Always try to support the key points you are covering in your presentation with a story.
- Do not read your slides! Instead communicate.
- Never end your presentation abruptly; before the presentation ends, summarize all the key points you have covered.
- If you are inexperienced in creating presentations, beware of the common pitfall of not making the type large enough. What looks good on your computer screen will not be legible from the audience, so the text size needed will be much larger than the inexperienced author might expect.
Remember, thorough preparation can take you a long way. Before any important presentation, take some time out to relax! This will increase your confidence while you present. Remember: your confidence does almost half of your work.
RepHunter at http://www.rephunter.com has gained prominence over time for providing companies with suitable sales representatives. With their unique matching process, RepHunter has provided sales representative, manufacturers’ representatives and independent sales representatives to thousands of companies in America and the globe.
No matter what you are selling and who your customer is, it is often your negotiation skill that closes the deal. If you are a sales representative, you must know how to negotiate in order to increase sales and profit. Negotiation skill is thus an important tool for implementing your sales strategies. Negotiation is not only a mere skill, it is an art. Here are some tips for the independent sales representatives to use in perfecting his or her art, and to succeed in the sales negotiations:
To make any negotiation successful, the first step is preparation. Effective sales negotiation starts long before you join together at the negotiation table. Doing thorough research is required before actual negotiation with the customer. You need to consider your customer’s situation and to understand what he or she is really expecting from the deal you are offering. You need to understand what and to what extent you can compromise and what you cannot do. Also, preparation gives you ample confidence and helps you to remain calm and confident throughout the negotiation.
A good sales representative wants to close every deal by making all involved happy about the decisions that have made. Here a common human psychology plays a crucial role.
- If you make your customers feel that you are overpowering them, they will turn defensive. However, if you play fair they will definitely do the same.
- Never let your customer pre-judge you and put you under pressure.
- Never leave a dead space while you are negotiating.
Close the deal and meet your commitments
The main goal of sales negotiation is to make the deal profitable for all involved. When you are near to closing a deal, have as many conversations with the client as necessary to address all the crucial and minor details. Try to solve your customer’s issues and concerns. Once the deal is closed and the agreement is signed you have to be sure that you maintain the commitments you make. You have to deliver on the promises you have made to your customer. For example if you have promised any product or service as complimentary, make sure you provide them with that. When you keep your words, you build rapport that will serve you in future negotiations. You might also get referrals to associates of the customer.
With over a decade of experience, RepHunter is known to have provided many companies with high performance sales reps, in all business sectors. With its unique matching process, RepHunter has provided sales representatives, manufacturers representatives and independent sales representatives to thousands companies across American and the globe.
An independent sales rep is as important as an inside sales rep and you should take care to ensure that they are treated equally well if not better. There is no simple formula to creating a great working relationship between you as a principal and an independent sales rep. It is built over time through mutual trust and support. However, there are a few things that you can follow to make sure that your relationship with your sales rep is always improving as a work in progress.
Communication forms the back bone of any successful relationship and trust is a very important part of this. Research has shown that any relationship without a proper two-way communication is destined to fail. A sales rep takes the first step of selling your product or service when he understands what needs to be sold. It therefore logical that the salesperson must be provided with good training.
Some principals think that an experienced independent sales rep will not need training because he has worked on similar lines before. This can be potentially very dangerous if his understanding does not match with what you offer in reality. If you haven’t set clear goals or if your sales training hasn’t been good enough, your sales rep is likely to be confused. Such a situation is detrimental to the effectiveness of your campaign.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you know for sure that Product A that you are selling hasn’t historically sold more than 100 units, but you tell your sales guy or gal that the highest figure achieved was 300, the sales rep might get disheartened even if he managed to achieve a sale of 150 units. Being honest with your manufacturers rep can fetch you a lot of rich dividends. There is no better asset than having a motivated fired up rep who trusts you and believes in your products.
Coming back to our initial point of why external sales reps need to be well cared for, your organization’s reputation is very important. A sales rep who has been ticked off badly is more likely to damage your brand’s reputation than somebody who has departed from a contract with your organization on good terms. He or she will have little or no loyalty especially when the time spent selling your products has been just a few months or less. There is no way of keeping tabs on the individual as there is with a regular employee. It is therefore important that communications are clear and expectations set realistically as explained above.
Having regular trainings and interactions, assigning a supervisor to monitor the performance and assist in selling, and making sure that the sales rep is well versed with the process of payouts from your company can help avoid disappointment later. Your escalation process should also be clearly communicated in case the immediate supervisor is not cooperating or is not available.
Reports – unnecessary burden or mutually benefical tool?
Working as an independent sales rep has several advantages. You get to choose the line to work on, your targets are not fixed by your boss and most lines will allow flexible timings. Everything sounds great but one important thing many sales reps ignore is their reporting. Just as an organization relies on their inside sales force to provide them with field data, having a sales rep can provide valuable data. As a manufacturer’s rep, you can provide your principal with data that can help them make projections for the next quarter or even for the next year.
When you make sure that the reporting is in line with your principal’s requirements, you are paving the way for a great partnership between you and the principal. There are many other ways to improve your relationship with your principal.
Keeping in Touch
As an independent sales rep, you may not have an office to report to physically. It is therefore important that you keep in regular touch with your principal. When you are presented with the sales rep opportunity, remember to have the contact details of at least 2 reporting supervisors. Do not wait for a reason to call your principal. If there is nothing important to report, you can always call to say a hello. You might be lucky to get some inputs from your supervisor that might help close that elusive sale.
Sharing Market Information
As an independent sales rep, you might represent more than one principal. It is not uncommon that some reps represent competing manufacturers at the same time. However, sharing market information with your principal is key to ensuring that the products or services that you represent are successful. Your principal will be able to use this information to improve their products and services. You can also share information on the field sales efforts of other manufacturers and service providers. This will help your principal fine tune any sales programs that are being implemented or is in its pre launch phase.
Your Loyalty to the Brand
A manufacturers rep can successfully establish himself or herself as being known by a brand. This is normally achieved through many months or years of dedicated service to that particular brand. Principals love to have such sales reps as it gives their brand better visibility and recall. Customers hate to have different sales people knocking on their doors every few months. Manufacturers and principals love sales reps that do not leave their line easily. If you as a manufacturers rep have been with a brand for more than a year, that also establishes the fact that you believe in the brand and the products being sold. It will also be quiet likely that you have been able to successfully sell their products or services and you have been able to secure your personal income from these sales.
Just as an employee working full time, it is important that you have a good relationship with your principal to guarantee a win-win relationship.
When it comes to maximizing your sales, reaching goals, and making the sales process easier, utilizing the best software possible will give you a big advantage. With so many different tools for sales reps available, it’s easy to get lost. In order to help you avoid spending your money on bogus or low quality software, I’m going to tell you about 5 pieces of software that every sales rep should have in their arsenal.
As a sales rep, having a website to showcase your products and business is essential. It’s nearly impossible to have any type of business without having an online presence and creating a website is the easiest and best place to start. WordPress is a Content Management System that lets you easily set up your own website with absolutely 0 knowledge of coding or technical expertise.
The reason I recommend WordPress for your website is that it’s easy to integrate features such as shopping carts, appointment schedulers, and other tools that sales reps need to help make sales and interact with potential clients.
The sales process is notorious for having loads of paperwork. However, as we move towards a more “Green” world, using less paper is an excellent way to help the community while staying more organized as well. Docusign is a program that allows you to sign documents digitally. Instead of dealing with paper contracts, you can use Docusign to have clients sign digitally. You can email them a copy of the contract or sales order immediately so you don’t have to worry about making copies and faxing.
I would recommend using Docusign for creating sales contracts, order slips, or anything else that requires clients to sign something. In addition to this, DocuSign is also able to integrate with several different CRM solutions as well.
If you have clients all around the world, keeping in touch with them all can become difficult. Skype allows you to have video chats with current or prospective clients right on your computer, laptop, or mobile device. Trying to make a sale through email or even phone sales doesn’t have the personal touch that a face to face conversation will have.
Through Skype, you can show clients your products even if they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. Emailing a picture or describing what you’re selling over the phone is no match for a live presentation.
I’m not sure about you, but I know that as a sales person I love some sort of incentive to give me even more motivation and drive. This is exactly what Xactly does. Most sales organizations have some sort of incentive or bonus program to help motivate sales reps already, but Xactly gives you a way to automate and organize it all so you’re not doing it manually.
I like the dashboard of Xactly because it gives you a full view of where you stand as a sales rep in regards to commissions, how you’re doing in the compensation program, the ability to print reports and other useful features.
The SupeRep app for iPad by Wrnty.com is a complete CRM that gives you everything you’d expect and more. Even though it’s aimed at wholesale companies, even smaller sales companies with sales reps can benefit from it as well. One of my favorite aspects of this tool is the e-Catalog. You can actually create a full digital catalog of all the products you sell and place orders right from the app. There are several other features as well like creating reports, tracking goals, and managing your customers.
I also chose this app from www.wrnty.com because it’s focused on one thing, increasing sales. Having features like alarms when you make sales or other gizmos is fine, but if a tool isn’t going to help you get more sales, what’s the point?
I personally recommend all of these tools for sales reps or sales companies looking to get ahead and increase sales. Also if you’re serious about sales you should join SMEI. SMEI is an association of sales professionals joined together to help motivate each other and get access to a wide range of tools and benefits that will help you progress.
Ofer M. Yourvexel has been WRNTY’s CEO since 2009. His management experience spans the global high-tech and retail sectors. Before joining WRNTY, Ofer served as VP and Head of Information Management Products at Amdocs (NYSE:DOX) and Managing Director of International Operations at Jacada Ltd. (NASDAQ:JCDA). Ofer holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Tel Aviv University.
Mr. Yourvexel has been selected as a guest author. His opinions are not necessarily those of RepHunter.