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The Sales Rep’s Role

Earlier posts featured perspectives from a Development Editor, an Acquisitions Editor and an Author. This one covers the role of the Sales Rep. Amy Blanchard is one of the best in the business. Here’s what she has to say:

In Sales we jump into the publishing process beginning with the book proposal. It is our job to set realistic expectations for sales of a title. They can’t all be bestsellers as much as we’d like them to.

The role of a Sales Rep involves more than simply selling books. One of the key aspects of the job is relationship management. It is easy to sell a book or load product into an account; the challenging part of the job is building trust and rapport with the buyer. My overall responsibilities involve account management, title presentations, forecasting lay downs and giving feedback on new titles. I work closely with Marketing to create account promotions and feature key new titles. My mission is to increase market-share and make sure our books are well represented in the marketplace.

I am a National Account Manager and work with a single large account. I have a wide range of duties, which include sell-in, overseeing operations, and merchandising. I sometimes think of myself as an Air Traffic Controller because I coordinate between so many different groups. I feel lucky because I have a great relationship with my account. They are always open to trying new things and come to Wiley whenever they want to test new programs. My favorite part of the job is coming up with cool new promotions and creating out of the box ways to increase sales of our books.

What makes Amy such a great rep? First of all, she’s extremely enthusiastic about her job. She is personally interested in technology and enjoys what she’s doing.  Secondly, she’s great at building relationships. As Amy notes above, this is one of the keys to account management. Finally, Amy brings a great deal of creativity to the table. Accounts appreciate that these days, especially when the shelves are so crowded. Every buyer is looking for creative ways to promote and sell their products, especially if the idea helps differentiate them from other retailers.

A rep often only has a minute or less to pitch a book idea to a buyer. The good ones figure out how to prioritize and make the most of that limited time. The great ones (like Amy) know their account so well that they truly become partners, not just selling something to their buyer, but helping create long-term strategies that are much larger than a single book.

Comments

Naba Barkakati

Joe, Because of the returns, is there a danger of oversell? Does Amy have to strike a balance between selling too many copies (with the attendant risk of returns) and selling too few (and missing out on the growth)? I always wondered how the prospect of returns affect your sales plans. Do you use historical sales figures where available? What about for first-time authors? Well, inquiring minds want to know :-)

David St Lawrence

Interesting blog! Nice balance of personalities and industry information.

As a first-time author, I appreciate getting an inside view of traditional publishing. I have chosen to bypass that route in favor of a more direct and profitable approach to getting my books into the hands of readers, but there may come a time when I can leverage the investments you have made to do some mutually profitable business.

I hope you provide some coverage on the changes taking place in traditional publishing and how that will affect new authors, if at all.

David St Lawrence: Danger Quicksand - Have A Nice Day

Joe Wikert

Yes, there's always a risk for returns from an account. The sales rep has to balance this against the number of copies they sell in. If the initial commitment seems too high for whatever promotional plans the account has, the rep needs to decide whether to recommend a reduced buy. Believe it or not, I've seen reps do this, and it's a good thing -- it prevents a larger returns issue down the road.

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