It is a given that when R&D begins working on a new product they will run into problems. Usually the first person they will go to when they run into problems is a technical sales representative. These professionals tend to work behind scenes at ingredient companies and answer any questions R&D may have.
This week FoodGrads is diving into this knowledge heavy profession!
1. Technical sales representatives are knowledgeable about food
Technical sales representative are:
specialists in a particular line of products or ingredients. They have a working knowledge of their employer’s business strategy, client needs and a strong understanding of their area of specialty. Overall, technical sales representatives help to fulfill client needs by providing them with resources that can help them with their products. Furthermore, they talk with clients after sales in order to solve problems and provide them with on going support.
One of the driving forces behind a technical sales representative is their curiosity. When R&D phones with a problem, a sale rep will begin to ask a multitude of questions in order to identify a root cause. For example, if they are unable to come up with a viable solution over the phone these professionals will travel to manufacturing plants in order identify root causes of the problem. These professionals are always looking to build up their knowledge reservoir!
3. Technical sales representatives 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 into this position they look to other individuals. For example, if a chocolate technical sales rep comes across a problem regarding starch stabilizers they will look to other individuals in the company. They will be open and upfront with the client that they do not know the answer. However, at the end of the day they always find a way to find the answers to their problems.
Technical sales representatives have a broad range of educational backgrounds. The food industry is quite large so their education is largely dependent on their area of specialty. For example, a processing plant equipment specialist may have an educational background in engineering.
The professionals may have a post-secondary education or university degree in Agriculture, Business, Science or any related field. It is not uncommon for a technical sales representative to have a higher post-secondary 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. Companies however will provide technical training for new professionals.This is a position where having a lot of experience before hand will help a lot.
5. Technical sales representatives build relationships
Good relationships are the key to sales success. Technical sales representatives build relationships over time and makes sure that prospective clients gain trust early on in the process. One way they build trust is by actively keeping track of documentation and other relevant information in the client relationship management system. Finally, technical sale reps know how to identify problems, share potential solutions to the problems and obtain a buy-in.
6. Technical sales representatives 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. They frequent trade shows and educate prospects with new ideas and perspectives. These professional collaborate with prospects because they want to be apart of solution, co-creating value.
7. Technical sales representatives travel
Technical sales reps usually spend their time between the office and and visiting clients. Some sales reps will travel to expos in order to seek out potential clients. As well, these professionals may travel to a client’s processing plant in order to help troubleshoot problems which arise in the plant.
8. Technical sales representatives have these set of skills
- Research and Planning- The food industry is constantly changing and evolving. Sales reps need to research future trends in order to have a competitive edge. Further more, they need to research technical aspects of ingredients to help troubleshoot problems.
- Communication- Sales reps revolve around the client so it is imperative they are able to properly communicate with them. These professionals spend the majority of their time communicating on the phone, that is why they need to be aware of their volume and tone.
- Active-Listening– Sales reps are notoriously known for comfortably talking to prospective clients but it is just as important that these professionals listen. Actively listening allows for sales reps to ask well-thought questions, sell more effectively and offer better solutions.
Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a Chemistry student studying at Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.
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