Dealing with independent sales reps has very large benefits. Independent reps can increase sales of your lines by giving them exposure to markets they might not see otherwise, and they can easily and quickly sell lines to customers with whom they have existing relationships These are just a few of the benefits you, as a principal, can see from using a sales rep to sell your line. However, you need to be sure your sales rep has everything they need to succeed to actually see any of these benefits. Sales reps do fail sometimes, and there are a lot of common reasons why they do.  Here’s the top of my list.

  1. Not clearly define your goals and objectives. You need to make sure any sales reps you decide to work with have a clear understanding of what results you expect them to produce, and any deadlines they need to meet. The best way for you to handle making these expectations known is with a Letter of Intent. Essentially, you need to detail a contract that will define at the very least the quantifiable results they need to produce and the date they need to happen by. You want your sales reps to have a clear understanding of these goals.
  2. Avoid is failure to communicate! It is incredibly important that you be in contact with your sales reps so they can keep you abreast of any issues that arise and can obtain any necessary information when they need it. If your rep cannot communicate with you, they cannot service your line optimally, which will usually have the result of causing the rep to focus on their other lines over yours. To avoid this, you need to make sure that not only do your sales reps have the means to contact you when they need to, but that you define definite times that you will communicate. Once again, this could be handled by means of a Letter of Intent. You should clearly indicate in the letter the dates your sales rep is expected to contact you so you can make sure everything is in order. These mandated communication sessions are necessary, as sometimes your sales rep will not actively contact you without it being required of them.
  3. Failure to provide what every sales rep expects: the ability to make money on their lines, and to be paid accordingly. In order to do this, you need to ensure first and foremost that your line is marketable. It may sound blunt to put it out there, but if a sales rep does not believe your line will sell, they won’t take it. You need to ensure your line is a finished product that is actually ready for sale, and is being targeted at the right markets. Sales reps can help you with this, but they need to be interested in the line to actually want to. Once this is covered, you need to make sure that you are handling commission rates appropriately. Basically, you need to make sure that you are paying an appropriate percentage of sales, be it on the gross profit or sales price. If your sales rep isn’t being paid enough commission on your lines, they won’t have motivation to sell them. Likewise if you pay too much, your company can lose money and often be severely hurt.

Well, this may not be exactly10 ways, but you get the point.

If you’d like to add your own, please comment on this article with your suggestion.