What will the Rep of the Future look like?

Planning for Success
Starts With Market Insights

NEMRA needs your help in understanding your needs to answer the question of “what will the rep of the future look like?”

There are three key premises for preparing to prosper (some say “survive”) in the future:

  • You need to always be learning
  • Customers, and business in general, always evolve, and
  • Staying the same means you’re going backwards.

All come together in Brandi Carlile’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s 1962 song, “The Times They Are A-Changin”, that she performs for WGU, an online university. A combination of bringing the past into the present to prepare for the future.

For this reason, preparing its members for the future, NEMRA recently launched the third edition of its Rep of the Future research.  This year, Channel Marketing Group is conducting the study for NEMRA.  We’ve already conducted dozens of interviews of reps, manufacturers and distributors.  Now we need your help.


To gain a broad perspective, we’ve launched an industry survey, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ROTFET, to get your input on the Rep of the Future.

The goal is to capture input from as many industry stakeholders as possible.  With independent manufacturer reps being the linchpin between so many distributors, manufacturers and end-customers / contractors, it is important to have a 360 perspective because, when one element of the channel wins, why shouldn’t all elements of the channel win given that “alternate channels” are frequently everyone’s competitors?

The electrical distribution industry is changing

But we’re still in the people business.  While processes get automated and data is generated to ostensibly “inform”, people make the decisions regarding their company\’s strategy and/or are responsible for the execution of the strategy.

At manufacturers and distributors, the rate of personnel change is greater than ever.  In many markets, agencies may represent a constant … a consistency or familiarity for all channel stakeholders and perhaps one of the few with institutional memory. 

But while rep agencies may represent a constant, the market is changing.  Consider:

  • Channel consolidation and channel convergence 
  • Manufacturer consolidation and new competitors 
  • Labor shortages and productivity improvements 
  • Whom in the channel to focus on (or, whom is “the customer”)?
  • Data data data. Everyone has and everyone wants.  Big data vs smart data.
  • The role of metric management 
  • Technology.  With the expectation that all will be investing more! 
  • What and who are the product and purchasing decision drivers
  • Cost pressures vs revenue generators
  • Value added services vs transferred costs vs expectations of doing business 
  • Compensation models and what does it mean for services to “be valued”?
  • Not to mention products are innovating (and yes, some haven’t changed in “decades!”).

And more is occurring, and will occur!

As they say, the industry is “a-changin.”  NEMRA needs your input to assist its members and manufacturers to meet customer needs of tomorrow, today.  Your input is important.  Please take 5-7 minutes to share your input (and respondents will receive an executive summary of the report in February when it is released as well as be eligible for a survey drawing.)  All input is confidential.  If you’d like to share thoughts via a conversation, email me and we’ll schedule some time.

So, what do you see in the future?

  • Distributors / Manufacturers – How can reps better serve / support you?
  • Reps, what keeps you up at night about your agency and/or your manufacturers?
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2 thoughts on “What will the Rep of the Future look like?”

  1. Manufacturers need a way to communicate a new product or launch a new brand nationally. Need to be able to link their NEMRA reps nationally to implement or execute national programs.

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