Why Do Manufacturers Reps Call Directly On End Users?

I have one or two in my territory that call on end users directly without saying a word to me about it. This is why Manufacturers hire their own reps, and this is why they get shoved out my door. That relationship belongs to me, not them. When will they ever understand that?


are they Manufactures that you are currently selling to these end user accounts? if so, then very stupid on their part

If not, then they're just doing their jobs trying to create opportunities

While I think your question is largely rhetorical, the answer: Because manufacturers do not want to rely on you to drive sales to them.

We have a number of related discussions & posts over the years, including:

Learning to work with aggressive reps can be a good thing, if they are honestly driving business back to you as an installer. However, this level of trust this takes is considerable and just may not be there.

They are customers and he is the rep for them. I don't mind the visit. I even encourage it. I just like to be kept abreast of what is going on. Reps always say "register the customer" or "just let me know", but that is always a one way street.

when I find out by accident, or third party, i generally smell a rat.

Do you own these customers? If I talk to Distribution, will they say they own these customers? Why can a Integrator or Distributor own a customer but not a Manufacturer Rep Group?

Side Note - Nobody owns an end user. You may have a relationship, but the game of sales is to break relationships)

Are you pushing this Rep firms products in this territory as a # 1 or #2 solution or are you just a certified integrator that hardly ever uses their products?

This particular customer...are you pushing another manufacturer with them? Example - You are pushing C-Cure 9000 on them or an upgrade to C-Cure 9000 instead of S2... as that is what the Manufacturer represents for Card Access. - If this is the case, the Manufacturer Rep Group has all right to go after end user. There is no trust issues involved here. Fair game for every party.

If a Rep Group "owned" an end user relationship and had another integrator in the door, would you cross that end user off your opportunities list and move on? Or would you still go after that end user?

You and your partners should be setting expectations with each other before you even do business. Sometimes you work together and sometimes you compete.

Well said Jeremiah. I agree with you.

If you originally brought that Rep Group or Manufacturer in to the customer and they make visits without telling you...then I can see your problem.

Don't take this the wrong way, but your overly protective attitude is one that often leads end-users to go to a manufacturer or rep and say "I like your product, but I'd like to use a different integrator, can you recommend someone else?".

The relationship with the end-user does not "belong" to you, or anyone else.

If the rep is taking time to educate the end-user about a new product or service that is beneficial to them, and you are their preferred integrator, it should be all good, right? Why do you feel threatened? Do you think the manufacturer is attempting to sell the product direct or undermine your business in some way?

How do I know he has my company's best interest at heart for one thing. Reps treat integrators like the flavor of the month, and they always have. #2, he goes in and promises, then I have to deliver. When it does not work out exactly like they promise it will, we are both tainted. I think we all know how that turns out.

If that is a legitimate concern, why are you doing business with this manufacturer or rep firm?

If you like the manufacturer but don't trust the rep, tell the manufacturer in no uncertain terms.

If you don't really trust either of them you should evaluate why you are doing business with them.

I would say that it depends on how the rep firm is structured and the lines they represent. I am a multi-line manufacturer's rep, our model is heavily geared around distribution, so the dealers/integrators are our focus. We have been contacted by end users, but that's when we recruit a dealer/integrator to bring in on deal with us. That's how we build on our relationships. Our view is that the end user has a limited number of needs as it is ONE customer. Focus on the dealer is key for us, because they have multiple customers with the same needs as the one direct customer. Not saying our plan of attack is better, but it has made us pretty successful.

Mark

Intersting question. As a rep (and former security integrator), I have observed that manufacturers have changed their marketing strategy in recent years, emulating what I call the Ford F-150 truck advertising technique..."Buy a Ford truck...we don't care which Ford dealer you buy it from..."

As security manuufacturers rely more on marketing to (not selling to) the end user, they feel they cannot trust their success only to dealers to bring their products forward...dealers who are being bombarded by advertising from an ever increasing number of camera manufacturers.

Many dealers tell me they are now reponding at an ever increasing rate to requests from end users for quotes for specific manufacturers. If a manufacturer does not market to the end user, they risk becoming irrelevant.

As regards visits to end users, we always ask in advance if they have a working a relationship with a particular dealer. If they tell us who the dealer is, we (with the end user's permission) contact the dealer and bring them into the oportunity. You would be surprised at how many dealers we contact who did not know about the current opportunity, which questions the definition of "owning" a particular customer. We also explain to the end user that we, as reps, are not vendors, and cannot answer installation or cost questions, and that a dealer should be brought in to enhance the experience. To this point, your relationship with your rep becomes very important. If the customer does not indicate a dealer preference, we will recommmend one...one that we have a trusting relationship with. Also, many of these pre-qualified leads are generated by the the manufacturer, and given to the rep for follow-up, accompanied by demands for exact documentation and details. This is when the rep you have developed a relationship with picks up the phone and calls you.

My suggestion...take the rep to lunch, and develop a relationship that may bring you more business.

why not just pay him for leads?

Yes...pay the rep by developing a two way loyalty...They bring you leads, and you lead with their products when appropriate.

We are way off topic of course, and I have never paid for leads. It is not illegal as far as I know, but I pay for lead generation data bases all the time. When I go to a restaurant and I need to get out of there fast, I tip the waitress person ahead of time and bada-bing bada-boom, I am in and out. With manufacuterers developing ever increasing ties to end users, someone explain to me the difference. Put my adverstising dollars where they will do the most good.

having a questionable day i suppose.

Mark,

He is not saying "Pay", as in money, to the Rep Firm. I believe he is saying to pay them back by pushing their product more if that Firm is bringing you into new leads. You push their product more and they will bring you more leads.

In marketing it is a function of either a push strategy or a pull strategy.

In a push strategy, the manufacturer "pushes" on the distributor in the hope that it "trickles down" to end user sales.

In a pull strategy, the manufacturer concentrates on making opportunities happen with the end user, and then "pulling" the sale through their reseller.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. And some manufacturers do both at the same time. Mr. Curtin provides an excellent example using vehicles. The manufacturer provides both dealer incentives (push) while running commericals directed at end users (pull).

With that said, etiquette dictates that I would never go around my integrator and call on an established end user without your permission. Besides being rude, it jeopardizes my business with all the end users you have that I don't know about.

I appreciate the input from everyone. I suppose I had a long evening and came in with a chip. Feel free to change the subject to something that is more important.

Mark, thanks for bringing it up. We hear this sentiment quite a lot. Whether it's right or fair or the best tactic is the question but it's definitely worth discussing!

Funny comments as we enter ASIS where it is mostly manufacturers showing product solutions and entertaining end users with only the large integrators displaying. This sets a precedent. Trust plays an important part as does the role of each person. A BD guy for a manufacturer usually reaches out to the people who could use their solution and then creates a market for the existing channel. A RSM for a manufacturer identifies prospects and maintains relationships with that channel while identifying opportunities for the BD guys/gals. A KAM specifically manages an end user or integrator to remove the concerns of sharing data and focus more. A MR firm can play leading or supporting roles in many of these aspects with information shared locally and often limited to the manufacturer. Some build end user and specifier relationships while others excel at managing distribution and channel partnerships allowing the manufacturer the lead role in developing new clients. Rarely does an MR firm do both exceedingly well but can dominate in one or the other. As for trust, occasionally the end user will for any number of reasons request a meeting without the integrator present and although it may appear a conflict it is their prerogative. When all is said and done they spend the money. If you don't trust your rep firm or manufacturer you would be wise to change as they may soon distrust you. If you have a doubt, ask them for a piece of confidential information on an end user / project / competitor. If they share with you then they will share with them. I have been a dealer / integrator / RSM / BD and friend to both end users and integrators. It's a tough role.
This question could've easily been "Why don't manufacturer reps call on end users?" I hear both complaints all the time.

If its really your account, you have the control, then wny worry. All he is doing is selling product for you so you dont have to waste you precious time.

but if you dont have control, truly, then start worring becuse "he who contolrs the end user controls the market!"

PS I call on only one person, the end user. I generate about 6 to 10 leads a week. I only give my leads to 3 integrator. I trust them, they are partners. I want them to win and make money.

I hope your not in california, becuase if you run into me, you will be in big trouble. MOst of the time I involve my mfgs while in the process. We will stomp onany competition that trys to take MY bUSINESS.

I normally check the box "post without disclosing your name". But I want you to remember me.

I am an indepedant contractor. I get hired by MR reps and Manufactures both. I AM THE HUNTER. I EAT WHAT I KILL>

As an end user, I will say this. I talk to manufactures reps all the time. I prefer to talk to them. Who knows their product better then the manufacture. I hate going to the integrator and asking a question and he does not have the answer and say I will get back to you and then you wait days or even weeks for a reply. I can go straight to the manufature and get my answer and usually same day.

I have also had to go to the manufacture to say my integrator is going out of business can you recommend another integrator in my area. I have had to do this with card access integrators, lock smiths who ibnstalled and controlled my high security keyway.

So don't get offended and instead value the added value the manufacture can and will bring to the table. In the end most manufactures will not sell direct to end users so embrace this additional rep helping you sell product.