How to Become a Sales Rep: Is It Right for Me?

A question that inside sales rep employees ask themselves is, “How do I become an independent sales rep?” In constrained economic periods salaried sales jobs see bonuses disappear or commissions get cut. The thought that a sales person can make more money as an independent sales rep, rather than as an employee spurs the search for more profitable ways to sell.

sales rep careers

Obviously there isn’t a simple and straight-forward answer to going independent. There are clear benefits to becoming a contract or independent sales rep, but it isn’t a career path for everyone.

On the positive side, becoming an independent, commission-only sales rep is basically the pinnacle of any sales career.

This is true for a few simple reasons: the first, and most important to many people, is the high level of independence. You basically become your own boss. Because you don’t work for any given company, and carry many lines at once, you don’t have any boss other than yourself. You have people to answer to, but ultimately you decide the route that your professional life will take. With diversification, you protect yourself to a greater extent from cyclical economic downturns.

Being an independent rep with multiple lines is the sales equivalent of diversifying stock investments. If one line that you sell doesn’t succeed fully, you don’t go down with the ship. You have other options available to you, and you should be able to proceed with business without the obviously damaging effects of having one’s employer fail.

Independence from Being the Sales Rep for Only One Company

The other side of this coin is that since you sell more than one product, you make MORE MONEY. For example, as an independent rep not tied to one particular line, it becomes a no-brainer when you’re selling a computer to a customer, to also sell them printers, service plans and office accessories. It allows you to close multiple sales at one sales call. All the while, you provide your sellers with an incredibly valuable service – immediate penetration to potentially inaccessible vertical markets.

The most important benefit of being an independent rep is basically, if you are able to perform, the sky is the limit! Working on commission, a highly motivated and successful sales rep has enormous potential to make an incredible living. This is not a guarantee, there is always a risk. But again, if you are able to perform well, there is no effective limit to your income.

Being an Independent Sales Rep Isn’t For Everyone

This all sounds wonderful! Why wouldn’t you want to become a sales rep? Well, it isn’t for everyone. For one thing, you need to be 100 percent commitment to become an independent sales rep. This cannot be a holdover job while looking for something better. It needs to be a goal; a destination.

As a start-up sales rep, you might go six months or more without income on new lines. This isn’t a hard and fast rule by any means. However, after you find a line, it can take months to make your first sale. Then it can take 30 – 90 days to get paid after a sale. So build up income on your existing customer base to handle taking on your new lines. Plus a solid base of buyers ensures your potential new clients that you are working complementary lines and targeted buyers.

The biggest reason that becoming a sales rep may not work for you is if you don’t have relationships with buyers. This is the most valuable asset you offer to small business owners and sales managers. Again, you can penetrate markets to which the manufacturer or business has no exposure otherwise.

Your ability to bring a company’s service or product lines to customers with whom you already have a sales relationship is your asset. You can immediately begin to make sales for companies who search RepHunter everyday for sales reps.

If you can do this, you are a sales asset. You can leverage your experience and knowledge of people and markets gained as an employee to serve as your base to start taking on lines and adding to your customer base. Once you get going, keep improving your markets and line card until you are at that desired level of profitability.

How to Become an Independent Sales Rep

If making more money appeals to you, maybe it’s time to make that decision and create your free Sale Rep Profile! We advertise for you, bringing in companies from many industries who are specifically looking for full commission, independent sales reps. Plus, for more in-depth information, download our free download Getting Started With Independent Sales Representation with your profile!

Tags: , ,
Previous Post

What Are the Fundamental Needs to Rep New Lines?

Next Post

Top Ten Ways Independent Sales Reps Fail

Comments

    • Sue
    • September 16, 2016
    Reply

    I just accepted an independent rep position for a product used in the OR. My background is in healthcare, most recently providing a service to healthcare systems and I’ve done this for the last ten years. Prior, I sold products but as an employee. I have relationships within hospitals but not the exact contacts I would need to rep this line. I’m new to being independent and wanted to ask if you had any thoughts on being able to use my existing relationships as a springboard to get to the right physicians. Is that a close enough link to be successful in spite of the fact I don’t have the exact contacts?

      • jas
      • September 18, 2016
      Reply

      You can definitely use your existing relationships as a springboard. If they are not the right contact, since you have a relationship, use that to ask for a reference to the right person.

      We always recommend to those starting out as an independent to take advantage of their previous connections, as that is one of the best ways to get started.

      Good luck!

    • Dan
    • February 29, 2016
    Reply

    Jas,

    I am an American living in Seoul, Korea and I would like to become a independent sales rep. based in Korea selling product to the U.S. I do not have any experience in sales, however, I just graduated with a degree in International Trade. Who would you recommend I speak with to learn the essentials of trade, like finding the right buyers and how to approach them?

      • jas
      • February 29, 2016
      Reply

      I appreciate your enthusiasm for creating a business as an independent sales rep. In my experience, with the exception of online businesses, most sales reps handle a local territory that allows them to visit in person the buyers. So I am not sure how buyers would respond to a cold call coming from far outside their territory. My first impression is that they would be very suspicious.

      I am not saying that it cannot be done; just that it is outside my experience.

      An independent sales rep is a business. One of the main and important advantages they offer to the company that would pay your commission is that you have existing relationships with buyers and a track record of successful selling. It is thus a prerequisite for the new rep to have existing contacts and established success in sales in the industry. While not impossible, I think it would be extremely rare to get started as an independent without first having such experience.

      The normal way this experience is developed is by years of work in inside sales. That allows you to develop your skills as well as create the contacts described above, that you then carry into your independent business.

      I would recommend you talk to established sales reps, or even better, a rep agency or rep group, which is a company composed of several to many independent reps.

      Hope this helps.

    • Ray Emnace
    • May 29, 2013
    Reply

    I’m considering becoming a sales rep for this product – it’s a simple product targeted to the Catholic market. What is the best way to discuss and look at an incentive plan for me in selling this product; and what is the best way to track my upcoming sales?

      • jas
      • May 29, 2013
      Reply

      The best way would be to talk to other reps in that market to see what works for them. However, that method may not be available to you. As an alternative, you could check out the training tools for independent sales reps at RepHunter.

      Please look at the Sample Representation Agreement. This will give you an idea of a typical incentive program might contain. However this document is intended only as one possibility, which may not fit your requirements.

      You can also use RepHunter for free to search for new lines. Search on “church, religious” (without the quotes) to get started.

    • sarr jamal
    • March 23, 2013
    Reply

    Hi there,

    I’m in Belgium, i’m trying to become an independent sales rep. My hometown is actually the perfect ground for electronic, automobile parts items, and many more, however there exist Giant Companies for these, and i don’t have any clue about where and how to challenge them. I have access to manufacturers but I would like to get in contact with experts in the international sales rep arena for these products as I am having trouble with developing a strategy for success. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Regards

      • jas
      • March 23, 2013
      Reply

      It’s really great to see someone from Belgium asking in the blog. Unfortunately our expertise is United States based, and we are not confident that we could steer you properly for Belgium. We are not familiar with the legal and culture setting sufficiently to be aware of possible pitfalls. I am hoping that one of our other readers could jump in and give specific guidance.

      Having said that, if it were a US type of operation, we would note that regardless of “giant companies” in the sales channel, there is a vast array of small, startup companies making a product but without the skills and capability to take that product to their buyers. Accordingly there is much opportunity in the US for the Independent Sales Rep to find such small manufacturers, and to take product lines into the buyer. Please note that when I refer to “customer” and “buyer”, I am referring to another business in the distribution chain, not the end user, who is not directly in this picture.

      The most important part of this for you would be to develop relationships with the buyers. If you have past business experience, such as with an employer, you might have some contact with some of those buyers. Thus you could contact those buyers to see if they would be willing to listen to your presentation. In that presentation, you would have to make it clear why they should deal with you. For example, you might have access to small companies that your competitors do not have. Or you might be able to offer better product support or training to the customer.

      I hope you find my comments helpful.

    • Mike
    • November 6, 2012
    Reply

    I am in the U.S. and am trying to become an independent sales rep for a U.S company by selling a line of their U.S. pet products to customers in other countries, and would like to eventually add other products lines to my offering. I would like to get in contact with experts in the international sales rep arena for pet products as I am having trouble with developing a strategy for success. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

      • jas
      • November 6, 2012
      Reply

      I am hoping that other readers will chime in, as we do not have expertise in the international pet products arena.

      • jas
      • November 7, 2012
      Reply

      From Matt:

      I would search the internet for manufacturer reps (groups) in the pet industry. I would think that other reps in that industry might have some answers about the international route.

    • Chris
    • May 22, 2012
    Reply

    Brenda,

    I sell lines directed towards medical/pharma. How on earth do you combine climbing biking,kayaking and — medical? I am an outdoor junkie as well but selling the outside stuff on top of the medical stuff seems intuitively unmanageable.

      • jas
      • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      From Matt:

      “I would agree that seems unmanageable. It might be best to keep your career and hobbies separate in terms of what you sell. Unless you are up for an unusual amount of complication without compensation in your life, it seems best to keep to one industry”.

      • jas
      • May 22, 2012
      Reply

      I agree with what Matt says. Plus the medical/pharma rep typically calls on doctors with the idea not to sell to the doctor, but to convince the doctor to prescribe. Seems you have a big separation there, and either you are doing one or the other.

    • jas
    • May 16, 2012
    Reply

    From Brenda @clary145:

    Make sure you have done some soul searching to see what he wants to sell. If you don’t have the passion for the market or the product, chances are you won’t succeed long term. Me, I could never sell to boutiques, because I am just not into clothes. However, give me climbing gear, kayaks, bikes etc, or medical stuff —- yippee!

    • Claribel Roman
    • May 16, 2012
    Reply

    I work full a life insurance company as a recruiter. I want to advance my career and become a sales rep. My company has been very succesfull since they provide all your leads. Our agents here get paid very well off of commission. I know i will be a great representative but i want to know absolutely everything all of the ins and outs of being an independent sales representative, so that i can make the right decision and succeed instead of failing. Can you give me any advise.

      • jas
      • May 16, 2012
      Reply

      @clary145: my initial suggestion would be that you should go to RepHunter.com and get a free membership. That way you will have access to our Training Tools page, where you can find out about Independent Sales Reps.

    • TSHEPO MOKOENA
    • May 8, 2012
    Reply

    I NEED TO START WORKING PART TIME JOB IN SALES REPRESENTATIVE. IM A FIRST YEAR STUDENT AT TSHWANE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AND I WANT TO GAIN MORE EXPERIENCE IN WORKING WITH SALES.PLEASE CAN YOU ADVICE ME ON HOW TO START WORKING IN THIS FIELD.

      • jas
      • May 8, 2012
      Reply

      @Tshepo mokoena: blog.rephunter.net and http://www.rephunter.net are dedicated to Independent Sales Representatives. Becoming an Independent Sales Rep is not a job; it is a business. We do not deal with sales employment on our websites but rather the business of independent sales. Therefore, we do not have a lot to offer you directly if you are looking for a job.

      However, we are allowing your post to be published in the hopes that perhaps someone will respond to you in a more helpful way.

    • jas
    • September 19, 2011
    Reply

    Please check out my website RepHunter at https://www.rephunter.net – you can search for free for new lines in all industries and territories.

    Be sure to search on your customers, not just your product lines! And if you contact any manufacturers or suppliers, make sure that they understand you would be an export opportunity for them.

    Please feel free to create a profile at no cost to you. You can then take advantage our our training tools as well as conduct unlimited free searches.

  1. Reply

    We are cameroon based enterprise operating in real estate promotion ,car and tractor rentals and construction.
    we wish to represent any foreign manufacturer in the promotion and sale of their products wthin our well established network.
    How can we be connected to interested manufacturers or suppliers looking for such partnership?
    Thanks.

    • jas
    • December 13, 2010
    Reply

    We responded to you directly via email about a month ago. I will post the essence of our response here in with the hope that you receive it.

    Unfortunately we can not answer your question. You will need to determine the manufacturers and products that you represent based on your industry expertise as a sales rep, which of course we cannot determine.

    So, I would start by asking yourself what industry are you most familiar. Where ever you have experience that should determine the industry that you want to represent.

    We hope this helps.

    • Erasto Kasuguru
    • November 12, 2010
    Reply

    I need to start a sales representative office for one manufacturer in my country. Please can you advice me on that where to start and what products will be in my advantages

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.