MHK UK | Why reps must get back on the road

Sales manager of MHK UK David Morris urges supplier reps to return to face-to-face meetings and for retailers to prioritise their visits

15 Mar, 24

Sales manager of MHK UK David Morris urges supplier reps to return to face-to-face meetings and for retailers to prioritise their visits to improve business profitability

MHK UK | Why reps must get back on the road

The KBB industry has historically relied on community, connection, and face-to-face interaction but in recent years, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we found ourselves turning more to virtual forms of communication.

These advances in digital communication have allowed us to connect with businesses further afield, and even those in different time zones, at the touch of a button.

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However, since the pandemic forced us to switch to an entirely digital approach, there has also been a growing concern this new way of operating is creating a disconnect between sales representatives and retailers.

Increasingly, attitudes towards sales reps are divided, whilst many independent retailers have reported feeling they no longer see sales reps often enough, others still struggle to accommodate unexpected drop ins.

Paired with the fact many manufacturers have been forced to scale back during a softer market, the role of sales reps seems to be an increasingly invisible one within the KBB space.

Face-to-face meetings

At MHK, we believe human connection is one of the most valuable tools in your business.

So, is there an argument to be made for regaining the traditional core of connection between sales reps and their retailers that has been historically so integral to the KBB industry?

The solution may be to blend this traditional approach with technology that answers the modern demands that our industry faces.

Especially during the sales boom during lockdown, we have been hearing more from our retailers they have limited time to meet with suppliers, resulting in cancelled appointments, months of back and forth before an in-person meeting and no contact at all with reps in some cases.

However, we have observed our retailers who have prioritised relationships with sales reps and therefore have taken the time to learn about new launches and update their knowledge, have been seeing increased profitability.

It stands to reason, if you’re knowledgeable about your product offering and can recommend the latest innovation, technology or design style, customers are much more likely to buy with you.

Improved retailer understanding

Beyond just an updated offering, when a sales rep can see a retailer’s showroom space, they are much better equipped to offer a more tailored approach to their individual business.

By seeing the showroom, having the opportunity to ask relevant questions, and understanding who the retailer is selling to, they can get a feel for the business and recommend the product that is going to fit into their showroom best.

This is an approach that undoubtedly benefits both parties both in terms of time efficiency and reaching a mutually profitable outcome.

For sales reps, face-to-face time with a retailer is equally invaluable.

Technology means retailers are inundated with sales emails every day, many left unread as demands of the business take precedence.

So the opportunity to speak in person is sometimes the only way to be able to cut through the noise and leave a lasting impression.

We’d still recommend sales reps try to make in-person appointments when they have something new to show, for example, and even continue to use the ‘drop by’ approach when in the area.


Watch our video interview with sales manager David Morris and sales director Paul Wheeler of MHK UK about their predictions for KBB retail in 2024.