2004/10a: Ask Me
Q&A 17 years ago No Comments

What’s manufacturer’s sales representative, and do you need to have a design degree to be one”


Let’s break down the first part of that question. A manufacturer’s sales representative is someone who works directly for the manufacturer of a specific product: the company who actually makes and produces the goods that are being sold. You can also be a distributor sales representative, in which case you work for a distributor: a company that distributes or sells goods from several different manufacturers. Either way, the job description is fairly similar.

Think of a new hospital in your town that is under construction. There is an architecture or design firm that has been contracted to design this hospital. A sales representative works as a consultant to the designer to educate them on the best products to use in this facility. Every product on the market has its strengths and limitations. It is the sales reps responsibility to know all of these and to relay this information to the designer so that they can make an educated specification. As a designer, it is very difficult to know every detail about every product on the market, so the sales reps can be a great source of information.

Once this hospital has gone out to bid a General Contractor will be selected, who in turn will select sub-contractors to finish the hospital. A sales representative works with the contractor and sub-contractor to educate them on the best ways to install their products. They also help to get orders placed and work with the contractors on time schedules and availability or lead times of products.

When the hospital is finished and the A&D firm and the contractors are long gone, the powers that be at the hospital have to maintain the new facility. What if there is a flood, or a hole gets knocked in a wall, or they need more seating” A sales representative works with the hospital to provide products and fill in the gaps when there is a small “in house” job and a designer is not contracted.

It is an important responsibility for a sales representative to keep tabs on a project from beginning to end to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This helps keep the pressure off of the designer and lets them concentrate on the next project at hand. Clear as mud”

Now, about having a design degree to be a sales representative… No, you do not have to have a design degree to be a sales rep, but it is very helpful ” not only to the sales rep, but also to the designer.

First, there is a specific hierarchy with multiple people involved in completing a project in the design/construction industry. It is important for a sales rep to understand this so as to not step on anyone’s toes during that process. Having experience in the design industry will help a sales rep to understand the roll that each person plays.

Second, the job of an interior designer can be very demanding. It is helpful for a sales rep to understand the different facets of his/her client’s job and responsibilities. The fabric on the chair or the wallcovering on the wall is not the single most important thing to the designer. Each item plays only a small part in creating the whole finished project. A sales rep with design experience understands this.

Third, it is beneficial for a sales rep to have a design degree to help out when their client is in a pinch. When a designer has a deadline looming and they have to select finishes, the library with thousands of catalogs can become very overwhelming. Just pick up the phone and call a few trusted sales reps, tell then the design challenge and the direction that you want to go, and before there is time to fret, samples arrive at your desk and the search has been narrowed down tremendously!

The life of a sales representative is a fun, fast paced, challenging way to look at problem solving and is only one of the many different opportunities available to someone interested in interior design!