Eagle Health coasts without sales reps

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ORANGE, Calif.--When sales reps didn’t seem to be working out for Eagle Health Supplies, the manufacturer of bath and shower benches went without.

Surprisingly, Eagle Health hasn’t noticed much of a difference in sales, says Brent Yamamoto, marketing manager.

“Everyone has been hit by the recent economic downturn,” he said. “But aside from that, it has been business as usual.”

So much so, that Eagle Health has been without outside or inside sales reps for two years now.

Soon after the manufacturer made the drastic move, it had some of its customer service reps call on existing customers. The message they heard: “Don’t worry; we’ll call you if we need anything.”

So Eagle Health pretty much stopped contacting existing customers. To attract new customers, it attended more industry trade shows and bought more advertising in trade publications.

Eagle Health feels it’s doing a better job of protecting its brand without sales reps, Yamamoto said.

“When we were using independent reps, for example, people got confused as to whose products they were buying, because the reps often represent so many lines,” he said.

Going without sales reps may be working for Eagle Health, but consultant Mike Sperduti doesn’t necessarily recommend other manufacturers follow in its footsteps.

“Moving forward in this environment, manufacturers have to be more proactive and they have to be able to control their relationships with customers,” said Sperduti, CEO and managing partner of Emerge Sales. “Sales reps allow them to do both.”

Sperduti describes going without sales reps with one word: risky.

“It’s risky because you’re relying on loyalty, and right now, loyalty doesn’t mean a lot anymore, because people are just looking for the most competitive situations,” he said.