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Successfully On-boarding Sales Agents

Successfully On-boarding Sales Agents

You’ve worked hard creating a great product, you’ve finally managed to get a promising Sales Agent
signed up - time to hit the market!

Pause for a moment and think “Is everyone ready for the task ahead?”

The key question the Principal needs to ask himself is “What do I need to put in place to ensure we
give ourselves the best shot at making a success of our venture?”

Getting a new Sales Agent up to speed quickly is a pivotal factor in ensuring success for both the
Principal and the Agent. Making Sales and the resultant Commission is what drives Agents and
provides the Principal with a return for their time and effort.

On-boarding a Sales Agent is no different to recruiting sales employees – time spent here in an
effective manner is vital.

The first few months are the most critical to the performance, long-term success and retention of
the Agent, so it’s important to get your sales on-boarding process right.

We’ve detailed the main items to address under five distinct headings

  • Product Training
  • Company Processes
  • Communications
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Sales Materials

The detail then needs to be rolled into an Action Plan - a list of bullet points with brief notes is better
than no plan! Importantly the to-do list should have who participates and who is responsible for the
action. Although the Agent may need to interact with a number of your staff, the lead on getting the
Agent up to speed should ideally be the person to whom the Agent reports, that may be a Regional
Sales Manager through to the business owner in a small company.

Product Training

This element is the key to Agents making sales – successful Agents need to have a high degree of
product knowledge to sell the benefits to customers in an effective manner. “I’ll get back to you on
that” is not a great reply to a specific customer query!
Product training can take a variety of forms from viewing company sales literature through to
detailed discussion and demonstration with the company’s technical staff.

Company Processes

Agents need to know and understand the processes that they’ll engage with in order to interact
between the customer and the company.

Some typical processes are

  • Issuing quotes and estimates
  • New customer checks
  • Order taking and delivery
  • Issuing of credits or refunds
  • Complaints procedures
  • Technical queries

The appropriate telephone numbers and email addresses are essential for the effective running of
these processes.

A smooth customer experience helps to build the relationship between customer, Agent and
supplier.

Communications

In addition to the contact between the Agent and the company staff the communication between
the Agent and the Principal is critical to a successful relationship. Agents thrive on selling and often
regard time spent reporting as detracting from their ability to be customer facing.

Calling Agents out-with selling hours means a more relaxed conversation and time to cover all
outstanding issues. Quarterly structured meetings where the Agents can meet with you and relevant
staff are a great way of maintaining momentum and consolidating the partnership.

Discuss and agree the feedback and reporting you both feel is appropriate.

Marketing and Sales

In general the Agent should have a sound knowledge of the market and contacts within his
geographical area – after all this is a primary reason most Principals work with Agents.

If Agents are going to be selling to existing customers they need a list of those accounts and the
details of the relationship to date.

A clear pricing structure should be set in place including parameters for the Agent to operate within
in terms of discounts and incentives enabling the Agent to negotiate directly with the customer.

Sales Materials

For your Agents to be able to reach success you need to provide them with suitable Sales Materials.
Part of an effective on-boarding process is preparing your Sales Agent with materials such as leaflets,
brochures and technical specifications. 

All of these tasks require time on the part of the Agent and may also involve expenses incurred by
the Agent for travel and accommodation if the on-boarding runs over more than a day. The
reimbursement of some or all of the Agents costs will get the relationship of to a amical start and
reflect the Principal’s valuing the Agent’s time.

To summarise - the relationship between Agent and Principal is one of partnership where success is
closely linked to how effectively the two parties can work together with mutual respect and
common goals.

A structured on-boarding programme illustrates a commitment on the part of the Principal to
providing the Agent with the tools to make sales and most importantly - earn Commission. The
Agent in turn is investing his time in gaining the knowledge required to – make Sales.

Time to go out and attack the market!

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