Most reps hunt for some valuable takeaways when a relationship with a principal ends badly. No hard searching was necessary after a recently completed rep-principal trial in Chicago, where the final count of useful "lessons learned" proved nearly as abundant as the sales rep's recovery.
In certain industries, sales reps are accustomed to fighting tooth and nail to recover commissions from manufacturers, both during and after their representation. And in situations where the rep procured sales before termination that do not close until after — when a new rep is in place — the hunt for commission dollars can grow fierce, even cutthroat.
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Most independent sales representatives are not involved in the design or manufacture of the products they sell. Moreover, they don’t consider the products they sell to be inherently dangerous. As a result, many sales representatives are not overly concerned about product liability claims, if at all.
A written rep contract is circulated, unsigned and quickly forgotten. Meanwhile, the parties perform for about eight years. When a dispute then arises, does the contract control?
Most terminations are telegraphed. Reps must pay attention to the warning signs. Consider Roger Rep’s plight:
Employed for several years as a field sales representative for Paul M. Wolff Co., a subcontractor specializing in concrete finishing services known as PMW, Miller was responsible for facilitating and overseeing projects within his territory. When a project is awarded to PMW, the rep completes the final step toward earning a commission by managing the company’s performance through completion of the project.