Most company principals will know that using sales agents has become a cost saving way of getting a company product out into the big, wide world without the restrictions that come with employing an in-house sales force.

With a no sale no pay philosophy and little or no sales management costs, you may be forgiven thinking that it’s the simplest option for company principals, but it’s not a question of employing as many sales agents as possible on a commission only basis and hoping for the best.

You want your sales force to be effective. And a bad sales agent can do as much harm to your brand as a good one can successfully promote your company and sell your product.

What a sales agent should bring to the table

  • Motivation, professionalism and sales skill.
  • A ready network of possible new customers or clients.
  • Knowledge of the market they are dealing in.
  • His or her hard earned credibility within that market.
  • A commitment to your cause.

How to find and use your sales agent

Finding Sales Agents is not easy – there are far more company principals looking for agents than there are agents!

There are a number of routes to getting agents

  • Word of mouth – speak to contacts within your industry – inexpensive but difficult to get the coverage you may need.
  • Through trade associations – can be expensive
  • Recruitment agencies – expensive for start-ups and small businesses expanding.
  • On-line advertising – should be inexpensive but costs do vary considerably.

Obviously you will be using your sales agent to sell your product but you will also need to know what area they are covering and whether they are being given exclusive rights to sell your product in that region. If you have chosen the right sales agent they will have an in-depth knowledge of your industry and the network of contacts to match.

You need to be sure your product is going to be given the show time that you think it deserves. A sales agent who is acting for a larger number of principals is less likely to sell for you than one that is only beholding to a few.

How to retain the good sales agents

Depending on your industry, a sales agent may well have a number of products from different principals – after all, their raison d’être is to sell and make commission. Retaining a good sales agent depends on a number of factors, notably:

  • The quality and popularity of your product.
  • The personal working relationship you develop with the sales agent.
  • The commission you pay and the benefits you offer your agent when he or she sells your product.

There’s no doubt that retaining the services of a good sales agent can add value and power to your company’s selling ability, a cost effective way to get your product or service out there. For company principals, as with any business activity, the key to success is choosing the right person and building a strong relationship.

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