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8 Facts About Technical Sales Representatives

It is a given that when R&D begins working on a new product, they will run into problems. Usually, the first person they go to in these situations is a technical sales representative. These professionals work behind scenes at ingredient companies and answer any questions R&D may have.

1. Technical sales reps are knowledgeable about food

Technical sales representatives are specialists in their company’s product lines or ingredients.  Using their extensive technical knowledge, they solve food industry problems such as formulation problems and processing issues. The overall role of this profession is to generate revenue and profits by assisting clients with questions, troubleshooting, product information and general product maintenance.

To meet these goals, sales representatives do research on clients and potential clients by phone, email, in person-visits and social media. They fulfil client needs by providing them with resources that can help them with their products.

These professionals perform extensive research on their own product lines as well as competitor organizations. Using the data they have collected, they make interpretations, problem solve and write recommendations.

2. Technical sales reps are inquisitive

One of the driving forces behind a technical sales representatives is their curiosity. When R&D phones in with a problem, a sales rep asks many questions to identify a root cause. For example, if they are unable to come up with a viable solution over the phone, these professionals sometimes travel to manufacturing plants in search of answers. These professionals always look for chances to build up their knowledge reservoir!

3. Technical sales reps know when to ask for help

Sometimes technical sales reps come across a problem that they do not know the answer to. When they come in this situation they look to other individuals for help. For example, if a chocolate technical sales rep comes across a problem regarding starch stabilizers, they ask other coworkers within that department.

During this process, they are open and upfront with the client when they do not know the answer in order to develop a level of trust. However, at the end of the day, their job is to find the solution!

4. Technical sales reps have a wide range of educational backgrounds

The food industry is quite large, so sales reps education is dependent on their area of speciality. For example, a processing plant equipment sales representative may have a background in engineering.

Technical sales representatives may have a post-secondary degree in agriculture, business, science or any related field. It is not uncommon for them to have a higher postsecondary degree such as a masters or post doctorate. These degrees provide foundational knowledge that is likely not to be fully developed during their undergraduate.

Generally, individuals have work experience prior to entering this position in jobs ranging from account management to research and development. Companies, however, provide technical training for new professionals primarily focusing on the company’s product or service line. This is a position where having a lot of experience beforehand helps.

5. Technical sales reps build relationships

Good relationships are the key to sales success. Technical sales representatives build relationships over time and make sure that prospective clients gain trust early in the process. One way they build trust is by actively keeping track of documentation and other relevant information which could aid in finding solutions for clients. Technical sales reps know how to identify problems, share potential solutions and set up contracts with prospective clients.

6. Technical sales reps search for new clients

Depending on the size of the company, it might fall upon the technical sales representative to seek out clients for their company. In this case, the sales representative will frequent trade shows in order to educate prospects with new ideas and perspectives. Through these meetings, their intentions are to collaborate with prospects and entice them to a potential partnership.

7. Technical sales reps travel

Technical sales reps usually spend their time between the office and visiting clients. Generally, sales reps travel to expos and conferences to learn about the newest innovations in their fields and network with potential clients. Additionally, these professionals may travel to a client’s processing plant to help troubleshoot problems which arise during production. Imagine a job where you are paid to travel around the globe searching for the newest trends!

Related blog post: Thinking About a Career in Sales or Just Started?

8. Technical sales reps are good at research, communicating and listening

Being a technical sales representative requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

Research/ Information Gathering – The food industry is constantly changing, so sales reps need to find ways to stay on top of market trends, clients and rival solutions in order to have a competitive edge. Having strong research skills allows a salesperson to make better decisions and gain a broader technical knowledge.

  Communication – The job of a sales rep revolves around their clients, making the ability to properly communicate imperative. Technical sales reps effectively know how to communicate both through oral (i.e., phone call, presentation) and written (i.e., emails, reports and proposals) communication channels.  

Active Listening – Sales reps are notoriously known for talking to prospective clients, but it is just as important for them to listen as well. Actively listening allows for sales reps to solve their client’s problems.

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