I realize this thread is about dubolocaust and retired juke youtube videos, but hear me out.
I am in outside sales, which is currently salary+commission, but will move into straight commission starting at the beginning of July 2010. I have been in this position since July 2009. I have competition from several direct manufacturing sales reps, large ... See Moredistributors, and local distributors. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each:
Direct Advantages: Immediate knowledge of new technology, no middle man mark up, one shipping bill (paid by manufacturer or buyer of goods), access to larger range of non-commodity items, control inventory, have access to many distributors that can effectively sell their goods which increases market share, and set prices of commodity they manufacture.
Direct disadvantages: Typically have 1-3 sales reps per region (i.e. southeast, mid-atlantic, northeast, etc.) limiting the number of accounts they can successfully manage/cold-call, lack physical customer service or physical technical service available to or affordable for smaller users or altogether, are sometimes not trustworthy because they will go in behind their distributors that sell their commodity to one account in large quantities (i.e. they missed a big account, and have found out about it through a distributor selling their particular product) which leads to the distributor not selling their product anymore, have too many distributors selling the product ultimately driving the set price down through deviations, possibly rely on distributors to actually sell the product, and competition from other direct sources.
Large distributor advantages: have access to other commodities that go hand in hand with other manufacturers (poor example- grocery stores sell milk as well as cereal), get direct pricing, many locations regionally or nationally easing the shipping burden of buyers with multiple locations, personal service either customer or technical, many sales reps that are able to cover a broader territory, access to multiple manufacturers of the same commodity allowing to keep prices in check, service programs that smaller companies can't offer and direct providers can't match in price or value, and experts of many many commodities as opposed to one or a few.
Large distributor disadvantages: smaller local distributors creating price wars (think Michael Scott Paper Co vs Dunder-Mifflin), direct mfg's going in behind and stealing business, limited access to all of the mfg's (you won't find Harris Teeter name brands in Food Lion and visa versa), can't truly set prices because it's based on both supply and demand, territory management, and tough growth prospects in slower economies (this is true for direct as well really)
Local distributor advantages: Typically a good ol' boy setting where the seller and the buyer know each other for years (this does happen at all levels, but mostly at the local level), local folks are right down the street and can be used in emergencies, if the local guy buys at high enough volumes then there is no shipping charge to the end user, and access to both direct mfg's and large distributors.
Local distributor disadvantages: easily beaten in price, array of commodities, array of technology, lack of trained staff, low cash flow, etc etc etc.
This is what I have noticed in my six months, I am sure there are plenty more that need mentioning. The way I am setting myself apart as a sales person is this: I go after the big accounts right now while I am new. The big accounts, if I land them, will take care of me while I am new and building a customer base. The money made off of those allows me to focus free time on smaller accounts that get me higher margins. I build up big accounts, I would like to have 5-10 of these, then get 20-30 medium accounts. If I lose 1 or 2 big accounts, the 20-30 medium accounts keep me afloat while I go after new big accounts. I don't really waste time on small accounts simply because they basically pay for breakfast or something really small.
I will say this, if you can't get a big account in the first 6-8 months (assuming you have cash flow that you can ride this long) you could be in a world of trouble. If you can get one, it will really make going after the others a lot more enjoyable and less stressful. It's simply just very exhausting wasting any time on anything other than big accounts in the very beginning. You work just as hard on the medium sized accounts and see 1/3 to 1/36 of the money in my situation.
If you have any other questions, you can email me. I hope this helps in the slightest!