The Hierarchy of Manufacturer Building Product Reps

Posted On: 
Aug 20, 2018
The Hierarchy of Manufacturer Building Product Reps

According to author Steven Pressfield, in the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways- by their rank or by their connection to a territory. Many people define themselves in society according to a pecking order like a wolf pack. Others define themselves in the hierarchy by their connection to territory such as a home base or hunting territory. How does this theory apply to building product reps?

Building product reps need to know where they stand. Most children run in packs in school. There are cliques that kids are part of consciously or subconsciously. In high school, everyone knows who the top dog is and everyone knows who the underdogs are.

Building Product Rep Hierarchy

There is a hierarchy in most manufacturing companies. There are owners, management, sales and marketing team, admin staff, and cleaning crew. Every person plays an important role in the success of the company. However, within the sales team at every company, there is a hierarchy according to who is the best sales person, the most profitable product rep, the king of the mountain.

The top product rep may be a prima donna, doesn’t get along with collogues, skips meetings, submits sloppy reports or no reports, they can be difficult to manage, and they may complain about everything. Of course, the flip side could be true. The top building product rep could be the nicest person on the planet, they open the door for everyone entering the company headquarters, they buy pizza for the office every Friday, and they are scheduled to be named a saint by the Pope.

The building product hierarchy is essentially based on who brings in the most money. Management always knows who brought in the most revenue, the most jobs, got the most products specified, etc. The building product rep that delivers the most AIA lunch and learns isn’t necessarily the top bread winner. Although there is usually a correlation between a hard work ethic, outreach, and success, there are other factors to consider as well. A typical product rep may define themselves by the following:

  • The product rep compares themselves to other product reps in their company and industry. The product rep seeks to advance their career by climbing the ladder against those above them and defending themselves from the product reps below them. Nobody wants to be in last place!
  • The product rep evaluates their happiness and success based by their rank in the hierarchy of the sales team and company. The product rep feels most satisfied when they rank high in sales quotas and other revenue based programs.
  • The product rep is motivated by money and respect.
  • The product rep is concerned with outcomes and performance not necessarily the activities that lead to performance.
  • The best product reps are competitive and always reviewing new ideas to improve their performance.

The Territorial Orientation

Author Pressfield discusses the psychology of territories. What the qualities of a territory for building product reps? Aside from a territory being on the west coast, the east coast, it’s three states, it’s all of North America, is that a territory can help define a product rep. What are qualities of a territory?

  • The territory provides the building product rep with a living. This is the space where they call on contractors, visit architects, deliver AIA courses, drop off samples, and participate in industry events.
  • The territory can be a closed feedback loop. What you put into the territory you hopefully get back.

Pressfield argues that the territorial orientation is a more productive approach than the traditional hierarchy approach. However, building product reps need to figure out what approach works best for them. How does your sales team define their hierarchy in the company?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank