What we learned about Manufacturers’ Reps by analyzing 27,000+ mobile sales tool users.

Can you believe that FatStax now has over 35,000 users that qualify as manufacturers’ reps, dealers, distributors, OEMs, etc.?

In fact, since launching our packages specifically tailored to manufacturers that sell primarily via distributor reps three years ago, these reps now make up well over 70% of all FatStax users.

Since we’re scientists by nature, we decided to analyze just exactly what all those manufacturers’ reps were doing with their sales tools in order to figure out how to get more of them to be badass super users instead wimpy, loser users.

If you are Marketer that works for a company that sells via manufacturers’ reps, then you’ll learn some key ways to engage these guys and gals that don’t work directly for you and them selling more of your products, faster than ever before.

Here’s what we learned:

Manufacturers’ Reps are desperately seeking pricing

For the most part, pricing documents, excel sheets, and individual product pages with pricing information tend to get the lion’s share of views (not necessarily sends) in sales enablement tools.

Examples include collateral titled things like:

  • 2018 Pricing Guide
  • Product Pricing Overview and Sizing Chart
  • Dealer Pricing Worksheet 2018

In fact, in 49 out of 57 unique sales tools the top viewed item had the word ‘Price’ or ‘Pricing’ in the file name.  In some cases, pricing guides come close to out ranking all other items for a given sales organization for actions performed in a given sales tool.

This isn’t to say that other pieces of sales collateral are not valued and used. It simply says that manufacturers’ reps need pricing details and making it easy to find will get more of your products sold.

We get that most sales leaders these days pay lip service to the “We don’t sell on price” mentality, but at the end of the day reps need a price to quote and close. This is especially true of manufacturer’s reps.

If you think about it, this makes total sense. Manufacturers’ reps often rep many suppliers’ products each with their own unique SKU and pricing systems.  They must spend hours just digging through spreadsheets and catalogs just to create a simple quote.

Conclusion – If you want to guarantee sales tool adoption by your manufacturers’ reps, make product prices a priority and give reps easy ways to find these files before others.

New products do extremely well in mobile sales tools

After pricing information, sales collateral specifically focused on new products or product releases is the clear winner for Manufacturers’ Reps.  Collateral focused on new products gets viewed and shared in FatStax 76.2% more times than collateral for older, standard products.

Additionally, every time our clients updated their apps with “new product” information, we could measure an average of 42.3% more activity than when apps are not being updated regularly.

By new product collateral, we are including any piece of sales collateral created to support a new product release by a specific manufacturer including presentations, videos, PDF brochures, product catalog pages, specs and details pages, and pricing.

In particular, three types of sales collateral are highly sought after by manufacturers’ reps specifically around new products:

  1. Product Pages – that contain pricing, catalog numbers (SKUs), detailed charts, and images of the product. In other words, details to quote.
  2. Competitive Intelligence – including short videos, side by side comparisons, battle cards, ideal customer types, and ‘Us vs Them’ PowerPoints.
  3. Short, informative videos – typically less than 1 min – 30 secs showing installations, quick guides, in-action movement, and interactive looks inside the technology.

Interestingly, PDF brochures and one-page fliers appear to get slightly less interactivity from manufacturer’s reps (though this more of an observation that did not stand up to statistical analysis).

So what does this mean? During the first 3-4 months after new product release, reps are searching for ways to learn more and add these products to their bag.  It’s as simple as that.  Once again, in hindsight this is probably a fairly obvious data point.  manufacturers’ reps often rep many lines and keeping up/pitching new products is super difficult for them.

Conclusion – If you wanna engage Manufacturers’ Reps, make sure you plan the updating of new product materials into your sales tools.

Picking a target produces 3X adoption

End user adoption is often cited as the number reason manufacturer’s have not deployed mobile sales tools for their field reps.

Specifically, the fear of reps not using an expensive tool is so overpowering that many cannot overcome it.

Here’s the deal.

99% of Marketers start trying to build their app by fretting about devices, CRM integrations, pulling together massive data sets, and enlisting IT to gather a list of requirements. This is dumb. Yep, I said it D.U. M. B.

There is something much more important than iPads and Androids or the must have offline feature that triggers Salesforce.com magic. You MUST be 100% clear on this before starting your app to avoid a huge time sink.

The thing you have to do is…. Pick a target.

Our data set clearly shows that manufacturers that pick a clear target when deploying a mobile sales app are ~3X more likely to hit their ideal end user adoption metrics. Yes that was 3X.

So let’s get specific here, so we are clear.

We simply measured overall user adoption in mobile sales tools (as defined by using the tool at least once per week) and, the only common thread we could find amongst highly, adopted apps vs the others is that the Marketers deploying these tools came to us with a specific measurable target.

Examples of these targets included:

  • Merging two companies’ product catalogs and getting reps up to speed fast
  • Releasing new products on a monthly basis by email to reps and getting no return
  • Difficult pricing models making it hard on reps to quote properly

How do I pick a target you ask? Simple!

What sales/marketing issue do you need to fix the most?

If you’re having trouble answering this question, ask yourself…

…what outcome would be measurably different in your company (or your life) if you could snap your fingers, wiggle your nose, and you fixed that one issue for your sales team?


…what do reps complain about the most to you about your sales collateral or lack there of?

These are targets.  Specific targets! And picking a target drives adoption.

Why does this work?

We suspect it is a combination of 3 things:

  1. When Marketers pick a target and focus, they tend to put more time and effort into supporting their sales tools. In short, they do more to drive adoption because it matters to them.
  2. Targets are usually a huge issue for the reps, so any solution that fixes a daily headache will get adopted at a higher rate. Even if it’s a crappy tool or crappy interface
  3. “What’s get measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker, famed management guru.  The truth is, when you care enough to measure adoption, you tend to produce more actions that drive adoption like contests and campaigns.


Given the pace of mobile computing innovation, it’s never been easier for marketers to powerfully influence sales. Never. It doesn’t require MBAs, epic design skills, or coders. It doesn’t require leadership, confidence, or a fierce competitive streak. It’s a simple matter of cutting through all the noise. But, it’s cutting through the noise that is the hardest part.

In fact, if you have yet to unleash a mobile initiative to the level of success you want, it likely has nothing to do with you. Given the insane amounts of marketing speak and misinformation available in social media and hitting your inbox it’s a small miracle marketers have gotten as far as they have with mobile tools.

Studying our own Analytics data was in fact extremely eye opening and is leading us to rethink our RoadMap for FatStax.  Great things happen when you ask great questions.