For today’s Expert’s Corner video interview (below), we sat down with Bob Adams, serial entrepreneur and founder of BusinessTown. We were particularly interested in learning how Bob grew a business in excess of $40M with the help of an independent sales rep team.
Bob’s most dramatic success came early, when he started up a publishing service that eventually become the Adams Media Corporation. It was tale of incredibly humble beginnings. When Bob started out he was still in school with only $1,500 to invest with. But what he did have was a vision. He imagined a new way to run a publishing company by commissioning industry experts to write on popular topics.
The results were phenomenal. By the time Bob sold his company in 2003 it was worth $40 million and released 200 titles a year. He went on to try his hand at a number of different ventures, always keeping his core business beliefs at hand.
One of those beliefs was the importance of working with independent sales reps. In Bob’s experience, they're an effective way of saving time and expediting a startup’s growth. They also simplify the selling process, eschewing the need for high-powered sales talent to hold things together. According to Bob, one of a startup’s greatest hurdles is maximizing that relationship’s potential. A company needs to keep their reps as enthused as they are if they expect things to work out perfectly.
After all of his time in the field, Bob could easily tell which companies would work and which would inevitably fall short of expectations. He said that the most successful publishing company he ever saw understood how to maximize their relationship with independent sales representatives. They showed great dedication towards those they worked with, nurturing a loyalty and enthusiasm that was infectious with everyone around them.
And that’s the real key that Bob thinks people should be aware of. Working with independent sales reps doesn’t have to mean short-term fleeting relationships with people who go through your company like a revolving door. A business partnership when it works best is just that: a partnership. It should be something that is highly beneficial to every party involved. Agents will remember when they get paid late or involved in the promotion of a bad product.
According to Bob, companies who succeed are constantly thinking about ramping up, and one of the most effective ways to ramp up a bottom line is by forging strong partnerships with independent reps who share industry connections.
Our interview with Bob Adams, the serial entrepreneur who built a $40M business with the help of an independent, B2B commission-only sales team: