Should You Hire an Independent Sales Agent?

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Should you hire an independent sales agent to grow your business?

Independent Sales Agents from B2B Sales Connections

According to information from the Research Institute of America, between 50 and 80 percent of manufacturers use independent sales representatives. That definitely makes it a business model defintely worth considering.

The First Decision to Make When Considering to Hire Independent Sales Agents

Before you decide whether you should try and recruit sales agents, you must determine how and where people traditionally buy your product or service. If you have a new product then you will need to conduct your own market research to figure this out. Knowing how your customers buy is a major step towards determining if it is appropriate to use a channel of sales agents.

On the other hand, if you conduct your research and determine that there are already sales agents in the field then you may determine it’s safe to proceed. Another question to consider is whether your business can support a single sales agent or multiple agents? If you have always sold through a direct sales force, an online store or a catalogue then you may not have the right structure in place to work with sales agents. Many business owners have failed because they were unable to train and support external sales agents.

Framework For Finding Independent Sales Agents (With Template)

    Why Hiring Independent Sales Agents Will Help Your Business Grow

    Working with independent sales agents instead of full time direct sales people has a number of benefits for your company.  I have laid out a list of the most common reasons companies establish alternate sales channels using agents.

    8 Reasons to Hire Independent Sales Agents

    1. No fixed costs:
      You don't pay your agents a salary, benefits or expenses. You just pay them commission.
    2. Existing relationship:
      Agents know your target market and should be connected to the contacts you are trying to reach. This gives you fast access to people who can make buying decisions. Consider how long it will take a direct sales person working for your company to develop the same relationship? This is especially true in a territory you don't currently cover.
    3. Tenure and commitment to the marketplace:
      Studies show that the average sales person will only stay with an employer for two years before they begin to look for a new job. Most independent agents have built their business in the same area or marketplace and are in it for the long term. They usually have made a lifetime commitment to the industry.
    4. Industry and territory knowledge:
      An agent can help the manufacturer or principal by understanding the local economy because of their local knowledge. These reps can also provide valuable feedback on competition and product changes.
    5. Sell or starve:
      Agents only make money when they are selling. They historically work more hours, earn larger incomes and don't waste time on non-productive sales activities. The key here is not to waste their time either.
    6. Piggy back effect:
      A direct sales person who does not have a relationship with a company must develop trust before they can begin the sale. An experienced agent already has that relationship. When they meet an existing client they can introduce your product easily while discussing other lines they already sell to the customer.
    7. Lower cost of sale:
      It costs a manufacturer or principal less to sell to consumers using sales agents rather than a direct sales force.
    8. Greater marketplace coverage andfat go to market strategy:
      A company can quickly expand into new territory.

    The Key To Success

    By providing great sales training tools and e-learning solutions you can ramp up your sales efforts quickly. In a few days you can have the agent channel selling your products!

    The success of your independent sales agent channel will depend on how well you prepare them for the challenges they are going to face. By implementing a comprehensive channel sales process you will have a stronger and more profitable selling team.

    Looking to Hire 100% Commission Only Sales Agents?
    Download our webinar on demand video recording “How to Find & Recruit Commission Only Sales Reps in 30 Days“. As one customer wrote: “I was able to connect with 12 sales agents in a territory we were looking to fill in less than 1 week.

    The Other Side of the Coin

    On the flip side, when you are working with sales agents you have to be willing to give up control. You also must be prepared to take action if your agents do not give your product the attention you expect. When they are in front of their customer they are in the driver's seat. Their success with your product and their relationship with you will determine how much of their selling time your product is going to receive. Help them make more money and they will bend over backwards to get your product into their customers' hands.

    The Bottom Line on Whether You Should Hire An Independent Sales Agent

    So what’s the answer? Should you hire an independent sales agent? Companies often contact me to discuss that. Specifically they ask whether a customer will be more receptive to a local sales agent or a direct sales person. 

    In most cases the answer is in favour of the sales agent. If the agent is located in the same city or region as the customer then they should have an advantage over the direct sales person who must travel into the territory to sell their products then periodically make a return trip weeks or even months later.

    The key to remember  is sales agents are looking for companies that are easy to do business with and can create a win-win relationship.

    Would you like more detailed information about establishing your own channel of sales agents? Then check out my eBook, How To Find, Recruit & Manage Independent Sales Agents.

    The book is a comprehensive guide on how to select, manage and motivate sales agents. It provides proven exercises, forms, and templates to equip you with the necessary tools to run you own successful sales agent program.

    After reading the book, Brian Tracy, Author of “Ultimate Sales Success” wrote, “This fast-moving, practical book, based on years of experience, shows you how to leverage and multiply the sales potential of your products and services, selling five and ten times as much as you ever thought possible.”

    Aim Higher!

    Robert J. Weese, B2B Sales Coach

    “When you lead a struggling sales division from the brink of closing to over $7.4 million dollars in annual sales you can be confident, Robert knows how to engage customers and build sales.”

    'We had been searching for sales agents using on line sales agents job boards and other sources for over two years. In less than 2 weeks Bob was able to connect us with 6 qualified candidates and we signed two immediately and are in discussions with two more.” 

    Looking to Hire 100% Commission Only Sales Agents?
    Download our webinar on demand video recording “How to Find & Recruit Commission Only Sales Reps in 30 Days“. As one customer wrote: “I was able to connect with 12 sales agents in a territory we were looking to fill in less than 1 week.

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