What you should look for when you’re hiring a Broker.
A Broker, for anyone who hasn’t already read my post on sales terms, is a third party company that handles a variety of sales representation jobs for an assortment of different brands.
Some operate in specific spaces, there are wellness brokers and there are food brokers, but they all contribute to the continued and steady growth of a company once that company’s own staff resources are tapped out.
If you are looking to take on a broker, I’ve dealt with a dozen different ones. So maybe hear me out while I talk about what qualities to look for and which ones to avoid.
1. Look for a broker that reps brands in a variety of stages of growth. A few unheard of brands means they are willing to take chances on new companies. A few medium sized brands means they are sustainable with a good reputation that attracts consistent business. And a few large brands shows that they are not only able to handle growth, it may mean that they contributed to it directly.
When a broker reps six brands that you have never heard of and nothing else, look elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with being a new company, but let them do right by those six companies for six months before you decide to throw your lot in with them.
When a broker lists a handful of large brands that they used to work with but don’t anymore, ask more questions. If companies are chronically outgrowing this broker than they might not be a sustainable choice.
2. Skip brokers who are aspiring distributors. Brokers broke. They should be focused on your growth, not their own. You want to find brokers who have existing strong relationships with the biggest distributors in the area. This allows them to serve a larger region and, as messy as the big distributors can be, they aren’t as messy as 15 companies attempting synchronized direct distribution.
3. Asking about money is so uncomfortable. But if you are meeting with a brokerage firm anyway, you might as well get all the uncomfortable stuff out of the way.
Ask about how their staff is being paid. Working for commission is a fantastic business model that works well for a variety of different jobs. When you have worked hard to build a brand and are preparing to pass the job of representation off to someone else, you deserve to know that they are being compensated fairly and in a way that makes them more likely to honestly and enthusiastically represent you.
I have seen reps lie about products specifications and I have seen them send me products I didn’t ask for and they did these dishonest things because they were dependent on a sale, not invested in a brand.
When brokers are paid a good base salary and maybe operate with a bonus structure based on commission, they are competitive and motivated but still honest.
Alrighty folks, that’s basically it. As one closing piece of advice I want you to remember that Brokers basically pitch themselves by giving you their client list. They are super open about who they represent and who they have represented in the past. That’s like getting a big list of references right off the bat.
The human recommendation trumps any list I could put together, no doubt. So call around and ask their current and former customers what’s up. You can reach a customer care line through almost by website and although you may need to be redirected to an email or voicemail box, inquiring is worth it!
Some great questions to ask are
- How many new stores have they placed you in?
- How many of those placements were free-fills?
- How many of those stores reordered your product.
- How long have you been working with them?
- Are you planning to renew your services with them after this contract expires?
- How often do they collaborate with your inside sales team?