As you are searching for companies to provide you with custom packaging, you will be speaking to many people that fall into one of two categories: PACKAGING SALESPEOPLE and PACKAGING BROKERS.
A packaging salesperson is someone who works for and directly represents a specific packaging manufacturer.
A packaging broker is a salesperson that represents you. He is a free agent who will do all the leg work, contacting many manufacturing companies on your behalf, to help you find the best solution to your packaging needs.
For an article where I discuss the common types of packaging companies, click here.
What are the PROS and CONS of working with salespeople and brokers?
- They will know the company they work for very intimately; knowing it’s full capabilities and limitations. As a result, the information they give you can be more accurate pertaining to their specific company
- There’s never a middleman (you are only paying one commission)
- You are able to speak to the person who is directly managing your custom packaging job at the facility where it is being manufactured
- Lead time can be faster because communication is more free flowing
- They generally can’t sell you anything their company does not produce
- They may not be as knowledgeable about different types of packaging
- They may not be able to refer you to a better suited company
- They will also likely have a strong bias in favor of their company
- If some or all of your packaging order is defective, you (the packaging buyer) have to slug it out with the manufacturer yourself.
- They can sell you any type of packaging
- They may be a lot more knowledgable about other types of packaging
- They likely won’t have any particular bias
- They can find the best suited company for your packaging needs
- They will bid out your packaging project to multiple companies for the best price
- Some brokers have special relationships with some packaging manufacturers from whom they receive special discounts to help offset the broker’s commission mark-up. What this means is that, cost-wise, it will be almost as though you are dealing directly with a manufacturer and not going through a middleman (packaging broker)
- If some or all of your packaging order is defective, it is the brokers responsibility to fix it, not yours.
- There could be a second mark-up (because they are middlemen)
- You have to trust this person, you never really know if they are being 100% honest with you
- Some packaging manufacturers don’t like dealing with brokers, and therefore, that particular manufacturer is off limits to you, the buyer
- Some brokers don’t want to deal with other salespeople, and as a result may not want to do business with that particular manufacturer in spite of the fact that it could benefit you
- They may be less knowledgeable about packaging (believe it or not, I’ve met many packaging brokers who are basically just “general salespeople” and know virtually nothing about packaging, this is not that uncommon – although it should be)
Both packaging brokers and packaging salespeople can negotiate price to a certain extent. But bear in mind that they both need to make some kind of commission.
Search the web, call around. Ask the person on the end of the phone if they are a packaging brokerage or a manufacturing facility. In other words, do they manufacture the packaging directly? Call back on a different day and at a different time and ask the same questions again. You are just gathering information here. A lot of brokers won’t admit that they are brokers, but some will be upfront with you right from the start.
Finding the right packaging manufacturer with a salesperson that you can trust is obviously of tremendous value. But if you are having trouble finding one, seek out a packaging broker. Having a good packaging broker on you side is like gold – hang on to them! Likewise, finding a dodgy, dishonest one can be an absolute nightmare!
In short, it’s often about making good contacts and finding good people to work with. Forming solid relationships with people you trust will make all the difference. Some packaging salespeople are excellent and will do a better job for you than some packaging brokers and vice versa, so be open to working with both. Good luck!