Wi15 Education: “Events/Programs: Managing Relationships With Your Sales Rep”

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Booksellers had the opportunity to attend the “Events/Programs: Managing Relationships With Your Sales Rep” education session at last month’s 15th annual Winter Institute in Baltimore. The session focused on how booksellers can find a rep, what they can expect from their reps, and what reps expect from them, among other topics.

Panelists included Eileen Bertelli of Parson Weems Publisher Services in Brooklyn, New York; phone rep Amanda McGuire of Penguin Random House; Julia Fleischaker of Greedy Reads in Baltimore, Maryland; and field rep Timothy Hepp of Simon and Schuster. The session was moderated by Jeanne Costello of Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado.

Here are some highlights from the session:

Getting a Rep

  • Booksellers can find publisher sales reps by looking at the back of catalogs, inquiring with publishers at a trade show or by phone/email, or reaching out to their regional association, which will have lists of local reps
  • New booksellers can also see if their regional trade association has a mentorship program, as that can help booksellers learn the ropes of managing relationships with reps

What to Expect From a Rep

  • Physical catalogs or marked-up Edelweiss book listing pages
  • Title-specific information, such as books by certain authors or about certain topics, as well as books that are moving at other stores
  • Regional-specific or local titles and authors
  • Promotional and marketing information
  • Reps will follow their bookseller accounts on social media to keep up with happenings at the stores
  • Reps may help with special projects, such as building displays or a collection around a particular promotion or theme
  • Overall, reps will keep booksellers current on titles they might have missed in their own research

What Reps Expect From Booksellers

  • Clear communication and detailed descriptions about what makes their store unique

    • Some reps connect with their accounts primarily via phone or e-mail (rather than in-person), so it can be helpful for booksellers to send pictures of their spaces and displays. This helps reps decide what may or may not work.
  • Bookstore analytics

    • Reps should know whether certain categories are working better than others, so they can recommend the right titles
    • If booksellers don’t have analytics, they can use the notes function in Edelweiss to provide information about what does and doesn’t work in-store
  • Event Grids

    • Though event grids might be daunting, they’re very important. Publishers in attendance noted that booksellers should add whatever notes they can that help show how special a certain event might be to a store. Booksellers should also note their industry relationships, such as partnerships with libraries, on their event grids. Reps will use whatever information a bookseller provides to try to get them on the radar of publicity teams.
    • Following events, booksellers should provide reps with as much feedback as possible, including photographs
  • Booksellers should also be specific regarding what sells in their stores, for example, specifically noting successful comp titles and why they’re working