How Is the Role of a Rep Changing?
Mpowered Podcast, Episode 12 Show Notes
Welcome to Mpowered, the podcast brought to you by Material Bank and created by ThinkLab.
In this bite-sized episode, we tackle the question, “How is the role of a rep changing?” Host Erica Waayenberg is joined by Amanda Schneider to give insights from ThinkLab research on how reps can extend their outreach, understand designers’ autonomy, and embrace their problem-solving superpower.
Subscribe to view future episodes here:
Have a Question?
If you have a question or topic you’d like us to tackle on air, we’d love to hear from you. Simply direct-message Material Bank on Instagram with your success story or question through the messaging function.
Welcome to Mpowered, the podcast brought to you by Material Bank and created by ThinkLab. Consider this your new weekly dose of bite-sized, actionable insights to help you succeed as a B2B rep. I’m this week’s host, Erica Waayenberg, head of research and content at ThinkLab.
We’ll be answering one key question each week, many of them submitted by you. Want to join in? We’ll share details about how to submit your question at the end of this episode.
Our question this week: How is the role of a rep changing?
Erica: Amanda, I know you have spent a lot of time working with A&D reps to help them strategize on where things may be staying the same, and where they need to pivot to succeed in this shifted B2B environment. Can you give us a simplified picture of what this shift looks like?
Amanda: I’d love to. One thing that has changed for most reps is face-to-face time with designers and architects. ThinkLab data collected over the past few years consistently shows that while 80 percent of a rep’s time used to be spent meeting with designers in person and face-to-face, now, on average, that number is still less than half.
Because of this reduced face-to-face time, reps must adapt their traditional approaches to serve in ways that make sense today. Now, that does not mean forgetting everything we’ve ever known, but it does mean small tweaks and adaptations to stay ahead.
Erica: So, for our limited time today, let’s dive in to how to extend your reach, even with reduced face time, and embrace your problem-solving superpowers.
First, let’s talk about how to extend your reach.
Amanda: What was once one-to-many is now often one-to-one. This means it’s becoming increasingly important for reps to discover ways to scale their time. With most crowds now being a mix of smaller groups, often one-to-one, out-of-the-office interactions, or even hybrid presentations, reps need to do more to cover the same ground.
But there are ways to work smarter, instead of harder. One way you can extend your reach from those one-to-one meetings is to create supplemental materials that make it easier for the designer to share with others within their organization. For example, maybe create a video summary of a new product presentation, or perhaps a one-page document with clickable links to resources on your website about sharing or specifying your product. With this, you enable others to act as internal distribution arms of information within their firms.
Erica: The second point I’d like to discuss today is the evolving desire for information autonomy. Amanda, can you talk about ThinkLab’s discoveries here recently?
Amanda: Here’s how I think about it. So, each of our B2B product selectors are consumers in their everyday lives. This means as their consumer lives get increasingly frictionless, they’re expecting the same levels of self-service and autonomy as they would, say, selecting something on a consumer website for their own home.
Designers love information transparency and a website that makes navigation and access to product information frictionless. This means not only having those easy tools on your website to help them quickly understand, prioritize, and compare products, but many smart reps are shifting their time spent with these designers—from discussing features and benefits of product to demonstrations of self-serve digital tools—so they can have that autonomy on their own time.
Erica: Lastly, embrace your problem-solving superpowers as a rep.
Amanda: Now, architects and designers say that their best reps are those who are uber-responsive problem-solvers. I’d say typically, if they are reaching out, they have exhausted the resources at their disposal, and they’re looking for a quick answer.
Some examples of flexing those rep superpowers today are: being actively involved in suggesting product substitutions, providing proactive communication on lead times and any potential delays, and, of course, following up after a project is complete to see how you can support that architect or designer’s work even better on the next opportunity.
And before I leave you, I want to truly underline: While the role of the rep is changing, reps have never been more important in our research than they are now. We often see that a great rep is the difference between preference and distaste for a brand.
Erica: Thank you for listening in, and I invite you to listen in each week for more tips and tidbits to empower you as a rep.
If you have a question or topic you’d like us to tackle on air, we’d love to hear from you. Simply direct message Material Bank on Instagram or LinkedIn. Drop us a note with your success story or question by clicking on the message button.
Special thanks to Material Bank for partnering with us to provide bite-size, valuable insights for B2B reps in the interior design industry.