What Is a Manufacturer Representative?

by Stephen Jeske

Every business requires someone to contact existing customers, find new prospects, explain product features, answer questions, negotiate prices and book orders. This is the job of a manufacturer representative. Though the work can be stressful and sometimes requires significant travel, it can be a very lucrative profession. Earnings are usually a combination of salary, commission and bonuses.


Most manufacturer representatives are responsible for the entire sales process. They work to identify initial prospects through trade shows, conferences, business directories, existing clients and through networking. They call on prospects to discover their needs and determine which products can be of benefit. Existing customers are regularly contacted to monitor their satisfaction and make them aware of new offerings. Manufacturer representatives negotiate prices, sales terms and service agreements, prepare sales contracts and submit orders.

Work Environment

A day in the life of a manufacturer representative varies depending on the industry, the type of company they work for and their position within the organization. Outside sales representatives often have large physical areas to cover and travel a lot, spending days or weeks away from home. Inside representatives spend virtually all their time on the phone, video conferencing and using the Internet to contact clients, take orders and solve customer problems. In either case, the work is often stressful since income and job security are almost always based on results. Even if income is not based on commission, they usually must meet their sales quotas.

Education and Training

The type of product a manufacturer rep sells dictates what type of education is required. Industrial equipment, medical instruments and pharmaceuticals usually require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, while other products may only require a high school diploma. Regardless of their educational background, most manufacturer representatives need on-the-job training to become familiar with their products. Large corporations have formal training programs that can last up to one year, while smaller companies usually match new employees with seasoned veterans for a shorter period.

Earnings & Outlook

Manufacturer representatives, working where significant technical or scientific knowledge is required, earn substantially more than those employed in other industries. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2011 data show that manufacturer representatives of technical and scientific products earn between $52,630 and $106,270 yearly, with a median wage of $74,750. Manufacturer representatives in all other fields, by comparison, earned between $37,630 and $76,850 yearly, with a median wage of $53,540. Overall, these sales representatives can expect demand for their services to keep pace with growth in the general economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth of 16 percent is expected from 2010 to 2020, roughly equal to the average for all occupations.

About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images