The Guide for Manufacturer Sales Representatives

By Badger Maps

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In the sales world, as professions become more specialized with increasingly competitive sectors, the demand for representative positions is higher now than ever before.

Like in other industries, manufacturer sales reps or manufacturer sales agents are in charge of selling goods in the field to potential clients. Even though this seems to be pretty general, there are some specific factors that differentiate these positions from average sales reps.

How relevant are these unique attributes to understanding the role and crushing your sales quota? To determine this, the first thing you need to do is learn more about the role itself. 

The Guide to Manufacturer Reps Sales

What is a manufacturer sales rep?

A manufacturer representative or rep, also known as a manufacturer sales agent, is essentially a salesperson that fulfills the same attributes as a typical sales rep while selling in most situations directly to institutions or organizations such as:

  • Educational
  • Businesses
  • Public enterprises

The main difference is that they usually don't sell directly to consumers. They usually work in the field, making traveling a regular part of their everyday routine. And here's the kicker: with more than 500,000 sales reps currently working in the US, this is still a growing and exciting industry to get into without such intense competition.

Manufacturer sales agents need to study their markets effectively to make good use of their niche competitive advantage, regularly meeting the people they pitch to and establishing strong relationships with them.

If you are a sales manager looking for ideas to grow your sales teams, you can benefit from this too. Independent manufacturer reps can increase the technical knowledge of your industry and the local market while also providing a client list with several prospects or big accounts.

Responsibilities of a manufacturer sales rep

One of the perks of working as a manufacturer sales rep is the diversity of tasks that come with the job. Maybe you have considered the most obvious ones, such as speaking with clients or keeping track of sales metrics, but don't overlook the other ones.

Sales Growth

Professionals in this industry, whether working as independent manufacturer sales reps or just for a sales team in a company, may travel alone or in teams, dividing the work by product lines or accounts. They will usually bring samples, which will help them pitch to prospects.

Whatever strategy they choose, they always need to have the end goal in mind: increase sales and hit their target number. Also, during the sales negotiations, reps will have to provide answers for the most frequent questions the prospect will have, which takes us to the next point.


Manufacturer sales reps take time to focus on long-term relationship building, which provides the best results for both parties involved. If you believe in what you are selling, why wouldn't you keep providing value to your customers? Once you conquer the first sale, following up, upselling, or just keeping in touch are common strategies for nurturing your relationships.  

To get over that first barrier, they will need to get in touch and have a personal discussion with the prospect to convey the benefits and features of whatever product they are selling.  

They have to demonstrate how their goods will manage to solve the problems that the leads currently have, or the ones they will have, while also solving any possible doubts. They should provide information about the most specific and technical aspects, and if it all goes as planned, the manufacturer sales rep will eventually reach an agreement with the prospect.

Meeting Customer Needs

As it's common with any role in the sales industry, a sales manufacturer agent should pay attention to any potential prospecting ideas and keep the ones they already have with the highest possible level of satisfaction. Being informed and attentive is the best way to maintain a high-quality standard for your prospects and customers.

The differences between a manufacturer sales rep and a distributor

While it's true that manufacturer sales representatives and distributors share a lot of characteristics, there are key differences that are worth noting:

  • When it comes to payment, they usually work in different plans, with the commission being the primary method for manufacturer sales agents.
  • While both work with long-term relationships in mind, for distributors, this is usually given to them, while for manufacturer sales reps this would be an ideal situation that only sometimes comes to fruition. So, they need to learn how to work those short-lived interactions just as well. 
  • Unlike distributors, sales reps in this industry will usually work much more closely with the manufacturer themselves, learning every intricacy of the product to improve their sales strategy. 
  • In the case of manufacturer sales reps, unlike distributors, they don't own the products, and their only responsibility is to sell them to clients. Also, they don't have to buy the goods themselves from suppliers. 

How do manufacturer sales reps get paid?

Manufacturer sales reps are usually in charge of different product lines, depending on the specifics of their industry. While this will surely impact their salary and commission plans, they should get a base salary program with a 1-5% commission on sales. Bear in mind this is just an orientation figure that could change depending on the job, the products, the market, and the targeted sales volume.

With this in mind, the payment options can be the most challenging and demanding item for companies hiring new sales reps and professionals, which obviously value this very highly.

Regardless of the company, a manufacturer sales rep is a commission-oriented independent agent who may not get a total compensation package with benefits or insurance and with the commissions paid on everything sold within a specific assigned territory.

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The 4 best attributes of a manufacturer sales rep

1. They have work relationships already in place

Depending on the sector and the company you work for, a different set of business relationships will already be set. This is why it is a bonus and a good quality to showcase that you can get along with clients, providers, suppliers, and other agents in the long term as a manufacturer sales rep. 

A quality professional will understand this and use it to their advantage. If you have a strong client portfolio, the companies you work with will pre-select you as someone who can bring these types of results as you continue to grow in the role. 

2. They pay attention to the changes in the market

Having theoretical knowledge of your field is different from getting actively involved in it. While both are important, this is one of the best qualities a sales manufacturer agent can possess in a constantly changing market. 

As always, the sweet spot is in the middle: a good professional in the field needs to know the goods and products they sell, their main features, and their pain points while also paying close attention to every new trend and change in the market. Of course, the rise of technology is forcing everybody to evolve, which is no different.

3. They know the importance of retailers and providers

One of the main advantages a sales manufacturer rep can provide to a team is already having relationships with providers or retailers in place. While it's not mandatory for the job, it can make your life easier. 

Not being updated on your retailer or supplier's latest activities can become a source of vulnerability for the team. That information can make or break a business, so it would be a massive advantage for a representative to understand this importance (and take care of these connections).

4. They are specialized

Manufacturer sales reps who are more generalist are easy to find. The downside is that they usually need more expertise to bring the big numbers. 

Knowing your product better than anybody else is a tremendous advantage in sales. It makes navigating through the negotiation phase easier, and you will be acknowledged as an expert in your field, which can lead to new prospects and opportunities. 

So, why not give it a chance? A bit of studying can make a big difference.


Is a manufacturer representative a retailer?

Manufacturer sales agents, either acting on their own as independent reps or as part of a sales team, will sell manufacturer's goods to retailers and other organizations. In this case, it's different, although they can work in the same market.

Is being a sales reps a stressful job?

Sales can be a fast-paced and stressful position due to the unpredictable character of the industry and the lack of certainty that comes with the roles. While it's true it's not fitting for everybody, it also provides a great source of opportunity for many who are willing to accept the challenge. 

Also, it's great for meeting new people and will always be exciting. In addition, the commissions are pretty neat.

Do manufacturer sales reps work long hours?

The position of a sales manufacturer rep provides a great opportunity for many. Moreover, their salary averaged $72,390, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated in 2021.

On the other hand, non-technical sales reps overall earned a salary of $61,600 per year. Manufacturer sales rep salaries can vary depending on the specific sector, with some reaching an annual salary of $120,780.

These positions are expected to grow by 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, but the demand will vary, and you will need to stay updated with every possible change.

Is it worth it to become an independent manufacturer rep?

The position of a sales manufacturer rep provides a great opportunity for many. Moreover, their salary averaged $72,390, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated in 2021.

On the other hand, non-technical sales reps overall earned a salary of $61,600 per year. Manufacturer sales rep salaries can vary depending on the specific sector, with some reaching an annual salary of $120,780.

These positions are expected to grow by 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, but the demand will vary, and you will need to stay updated with every possible change.


The world of a manufacturer sales representative is demanding but rewarding. Targeting a niche market has proven to be a very successful strategy and doesn't seem to change in the near future.

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