Herding Cats, Independent Sales Reps, and Online Ordering Systems for QuickBooks

online-order-systemIndependent sales reps can be a big boost to SMB’s who are manufacturers, importers, and sell wholesale. They can expand your reach and get the word out to new customers. These reps can be your eyes and ears in the field, helping to keep you informed of customer opinions and competitor trends. They bring in the orders and act as a first line of defense for customer service issues. New reps can also bring in an instant customer base.

But do your outside sales reps drive you crazy? Managing independent multi-line reps has been compared to herding cats... it is very challenging to get them all moving in the same direction and they usually have a mind of their own. Offering your reps an online Rep Portal can make your sales team more productive, more independent, and can make your company stand out from the other lines they represent. A good online ordering system will also integrate with QuickBooks so the orders that your reps place will become sales orders without any data entry by your customer service staff.

Top Five Annoying Things Your Reps Do

Here’s a quick list of some of the annoying things that sales reps do that will go away if

1. Order things you don’t even offer. Are your reps in the habit of ordering things that you don’t even offer? Do they order sizes, styles, or colors that they seemingly dreamed up themselves? Do they order things that you discontinued years ago? If they do you know that it is time consuming and annoying to email or call them and explain what they did and what they should do. A good Rep Portal will allow you to easily control what is on the online order form so the reps only order what you make available to them.

2. Order things that are out of stock or at the wrong price. Wholesale customers often have particular policies on backorders and they usually have special pricing. A good online portal will integrate with QB and will display updated availability and the specific customer’s QuickBooks' custom pricing so you won’t have to take extra steps to process the order.

3. Send in orders that are illegible. Do your reps still fax or snail mail or drop off handwritten orders? Does their writing look like a doctor’s chicken scratch on a prescription form? Upgrade to an integrated online system and you can eliminate the back-and-forth communication that wastes time and errors.

4. Ask “How am I doing this month?” Do your reps call or email you like clockwork during the last week of each month to ask how much they’ve sold or if they have me their sales goal? Let them log in to a portal and see their up-to-date numbers.

5. Ask for information you have already given to them. Do your reps constantly ask for info you have already sent to them? Do they ask for their account list or for contact details? Do they ask about their customers’ discounts, credit terms, or tracking numbers? Do they ask if an invoice has been paid or if an order has been shipped? All this info plus pricing and inventory can be just a few clicks away with an online rep portal.

For many businesses the outside sales reps put up the numbers and make the world go ‘round, but managing them and keeping them happy can seem like a full-time job. Make everyone’s life easier by giving the reps the ability to do their own order entry and to answer their own questions 24/7.

We'd like to know some of your experiences working with sales reps. Feel free to share any of your stories regarding the work you have done with sales reps. We would love to hear about some positive and negative experiences, and how an online ordering systems would make working with sales reps easier. If you are interested in learning more about our order entry software, then just schedule a demo below! 

order management system

Photocredit: Andrew Holmes via Flickr