So You Want to Work in the Outdoors Industry…

A look into the life of a Sale’s Rep and the path to get there

“Sorry if you can’t hear me, I’m in the truck,” a phrase that Tony Groskreutz echo’s all too often.

Being the National Account Manager for Murski-Breeding Sales, a sales rep group based out of Dallas, Texas, requires that Tony spend a handful of hours behind the wheel of his truck, going from meetings at retailer corporate headquarters, to stopping in at their retail locations to set up store displays and train employees on their client’s products.

Tony has been in his current role for ten years, but has been in the outdoors industry since 1998, so for twenty years, Tony has got to live the dream of getting to talk fishing and hunting with other passionate individuals.  “Yes, it may be a dream job, but with every dream comes hard work,” stated Tony.  “To be able to enjoy the benefits and perks of a job in this industry, you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and make sacrifices.”

Getting some valuable sales training was a major key in Tony getting to the point where he is at today and Tony was very fortunate to learn about sales and developing retailer relationships through a job he had at Reebok.

Back in the mid to late 90’s, there were far more customer’s to service and way more brands that needed representation, so the need for sales reps were high.  Now with the trend of larger companies buying up the small, mom-and-pop businesses and corporate mergers being a weekly occurrence, the need for as many sales reps has dwindled.

That being said, “There is still a need for highly motivated and passionate individuals who want to be in the business,” commented Tony.

Being able to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner is the primary goal of a sales rep, as this means they are using their time effectively to maximize their customer’s investment.  As with any sales job building and nurturing relationships is a huge factor in having success, but along with this is having the understanding/knowledge of each customer’s system, along with your companies system.  “You as a sales rep are a liaison between the company and the retailer; you need to be able to connect each companies systems and processes.  By doing this you will help each party be successful,” stated Tony.

Tony’s role as the National Accounts Manager means that he handles the relationships with the large, big box stores, such as Cabela’s, Scheels, Gander Outdoors and Fleet Farm.  Some of the brands that Tony gets to work with include Strike King Lures, Century Arms, Spectrum Brands, Havalon Knives and Remington Arms Company.

For those individuals who are looking to break into the outdoors industry, it comes down to networking and hard work.  Tony alluded to the fact that the number of sales rep positions isn’t as high as it used to be, but what is needed are individuals to fill customer/rep support roles.  These positions are needed to aid in the day-to-day tasks that a rep group must go through.

“If you want to get your foot in the door, you need to be hungry,” said Tony.  “You have to be available to work the weekend events at the sport shows and dealer events.  Here you are going to get exposed to a lot of opportunities, from talking to customers, to interacting with company representatives and learning how to set up/run an event.  The biggest thing I have to say here is having your ears open and on at all times.  You can learn a lot at these events and be seen by a lot of people, so work hard, listen and present yourself in a professional manner at all times!”

There is no secret about it, social media is a huge segment of our society today and being able to discuss products and brands intelligently and professionally via video or written content is very important.  This is one way for people to begin their path to working in the outdoors industry.  Look for field staff positions within a rep group, work events for them, learn and use the products and promote them via your social media channels.

“The sacrifices you make can’t be hidden, you miss weekends with your friends and family, you are away from your family, but the people you are with routinely at events and share your passion with become your family as well.”

“I never wake up and begin my work day thinking of it as a job, I think of it as a new exciting adventure and being able to share my passion and knowledge of the outdoors with others!”