Independent sales reps, also known as manufacturers’ representatives or agents, can be a huge asset to companies who don’t have the resources or need for their own sales rep teams. Additionally, because independent sales reps work on a commission basis, they can sometimes help your sales more than salaried sales reps who don’t have an enormous added incentive to make sales. However, working with independent sales reps requires different methods. Here’s how to make sure your independent sales rep is equipped to do the best job for your company.
Make your expectations clear, but ask for their input
Negotiating the terms of a contract is necessary with anyone you hire. However, because sales reps aren’t exactly your employees - in fact, you don’t even exclusively “hire” them - you need need to make sure your independent sales reps understand your needs. Be honest about your expectations, but remember they are experts in the field, so ask them how you can help them do their job. Communicate with them how long a product typically takes to sell, typical volume level, and product cost and ask them for their feedback. They will appreciate the freedom to give their feedback while also meeting your expectations in a way that is the best for both of you.
Be very clear about exclusivity, but give them generous commission
Independent sales reps often represent multiple companies at once, and since they work in specific niches, it’s important to make sure they aren’t also representing your competition. You should expect your sales reps to have experience in your specific niche market, but ensure you make it clear while they work for you they are not selling for your direct competitors. Remember, money motivates. Since independent reps work on a commission basis, more effort is often given to the sales that will get them the most profit. Give a generous commission to garner more sales and encourage them to represent your product above the others.
Top quality sales reps work for top prices - but remember, you’re getting back more than just sales.
There’s a reason that you’re hiring an independent sales reps - they are not only experienced salespeople but have the contacts and network you need to get your product out in the market. Additionally, the feedback independent sales reps give you about how your product is being received by the market can give you valuable insights into your industry.
Give them the training they need to excel
An independent sales rep cannot sell well unless they have the tools they need to succeed. While part of an independent sales rep’s success relies on their efforts, another big part relies on the training you give them. Equip them with training in the technology your office uses and take advantage of other modern technologies that can help you keep track of their progress and keep in contact with them about important details. There are many great apps and software out today that can help you be in touch with your sales reps on and off the field.
Independent sales reps offer many benefits to companies, but make sure you understand how they operate differently than an in-office rep. As long as you are on the same page and see the partnership as a flexible collaboration, independent sales reps can be a great option. What’s your experience with independent sales reps? Do you have any advice to offer those considering working with one?