If you’re hoping to break into the world of independent selling, you may be wondering how to make the leap. One of the most important questions for beginner independent sales reps is where should you look for opportunities?
The good news is that you don’t need to start your career from scratch. As an independent, or manufacturer’s, sales rep, you can use all the sales experience you have gained over the years to find your sales niche and approach manufacturers in this specific sector. First, identify where your strengths are and what niche you would like to approach. After you have figured out what your target market is, here are some suggestions for the best places to find opportunities.
Start with trade associations
The best place to get started is by contacting relevant trade associations in your industry. Look online for local or global branches and ask them for leads to manufacturers. Trade associations are often the best place to start because they have accumulated plenty of industry-specific knowledge and make it available in one place.
Take over trade shows
Trade shows are one of the golden standards for meeting both manufacturers and customers. Find trade shows in your field and go prepared. Be ready to explain to manufacturers why you’re equipped to do the job, and even if you don’t have experience as a manufacturer’s rep yet, emphasize your past sales experience. Additionally, use trade shows as an opportunity to mine information about current issues in the marketplace, hot items, trends, and more. You can often get listings of manufacturers, other sales reps in the market, and an industry directory that features contact information, company size, and more. Trade shows are great places to get insider information while also networking.
In your spare time, go online
Meeting contacts at trade shows is a great way to build personal relationships in the industry, but there’s only so many you can attend at any given time. The internet is another hub for finding customers and work opportunities. There are many websites designed to help independent sales reps find viable clients. Additionally, networking on LinkedIn or searching for opportunities on Twitter offers 21st century ways to search for clients. The best part about looking online is you can do it entirely from the comfort of your home.
Don’t forget about good ol’ fashioned cold calling and networking
Research local manufacturers and contact them directly to ask who handles their sales. If they have an in-house sales team or are already working with a manufacturer, don’t be afraid to ask them for any other leads they may have. Additionally, beyond networking on LinkedIn, network in person! Go to industry events besides trade shows and use your current sales contacts to find out about other opportunities.
Hopefully, this gives you a good starting point for finding independent sales rep opportunities, but remember, the joy of being independent is that you have infinite room for opportunities. There is so much out there - it’s all up to your motivation and skills at selling yourself to get sales positions.